At the end of the day, there are only two decisions that need to be made - backup point guard and backup power forward.
Really though, I do think it's at least a little more complicated than that. Thanks to Reggie Bullock. I was skeptical about Bullock's chances to make an impact last season, despite some clearly beneficial skills. But he was so damn good down the stretch, he forced his way onto the floor.
Stan Van Gundy seems to prefer a 9 man rotation. If Bullock once again forces his way onto the court, might that change the need for a backup 4 with Morris and Harris taking care of the minutes there?
Anyways, I'll get to those. On with it.
Non-guaranteed and options:
Joel Anthony - team option for $2,500,000 - Walk
Lorenzo Brown - non-guaranteed $1,015,696 - Walk
Spencer Dinwiddie - non-guaranteed $980,431 - Keep
Darrun Hilliard - partially guaranteed $874,060 - Keep
So I'm thinking that the player we take for backup four needs to have some bulk rather than more of a true stretch four so as to compliment Harris/Morris, which means he'll be able to help out at center. That eliminates the need for Joel as the third center.
Pick 18 for Delon Wright
My top targets for backup point guard are Patrick Beverely, Delon Wright/Corey Joseph, and Seth Curry as the safety option. With Mike D'Antoni taking over for the Rockets, Beverely doesn't really fit the mold of a D'Antoni point guard. All the shakeups happening there, maybe the Pistons could swoop in and steal Beverely.
But I feel like the Raps are a better bet. The Raptors have a different problem from the Pistons, in that they're too loaded in the backcourt with Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright, DeMar DeRozan (assuming he's re-signed), and Norman Powell.
The Raptors have too much talent, the Pistons don't have any. But the Pistons have a draft pick they don't need. And the Raps are thin in their frontcourt, particularly power forward. With where the Raptors picks are placed, they could win the draft this year. They could finish one game out from leading the Eastern Conference in wins while also having a brilliant young zoo crew. A haul of Marquese Chriss, Denzel Valentine, and Zhou Qi; or Deyonta Davis, Timothe Luwawu, and Petr Cornelie; or Skal Labissiere, Furkan Korkmaz, and Diamond Stone. They can target instant impact, build for the future, plug gaps. It's not a great draft and it's one where talent seems to line up all of the wrong ways. The Raptors could walk out of it the only happy team on draft day with this trade.
And if they like Wright better than Joseph, cool, give us Joseph. Zero fucks given. Both awesome players, one of whom the Raptors don't need. And Joseph is actually the same age and even more proven.
The Pistons could also just hold pat and use the pick to address point guard, but I'm not crazy about the options available for them. Using a first round pick for a position where the starting job is thoroughly blocked, well, that's the type of thing that led to us getting Reggie Jackson for a song. Plus the prospects just don't excite me.
-I like Wade Baldwin's combo potential, but he seems Dinwiddie-y to me.
-Demetrius Jackson will be 22 when the season starts, doesn't have great size, and wasn't remarkably productive.
-I like Ulis' potential, but he was awful as a freshman. I'm betting he needs a season or two to figure out how he fits in with the NBA. Which is fine, that's normal for rookies. But the Pistons need a plus backup point guard now.
Delon Wright wouldn't require any development. He's ready for NBA minutes at a high level. He already offered up a 54 percent true shooting percentage with 16 points, 5 assists (with 2/1 turnover ratio), 6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per 36 in limited minutes last season. His numbers were nearly identical in the D-League, suggesting it's not a small sample size issue. And he's 24 years old. He's percolating, just needs poured. Plus he's 6'6, a 6'8 wingspan - he can help at shooting guard. He's about the same size as Reggie Bullock. There's a path on the Pistons where he gets 25 plus minutes per game, even as early as next year. I think that would be awful good value out of the 18 pick.
For the third string point guard job, give Dinwiddie, Brown, and someone like Russ Smith the opportunity to fight for that final roster spot. I've always liked Dinwiddie and the talents he brings to the table. He's had so many chances to win roster spots that if he can't win this one, he doesn't deserve to based on some tantalizing aspects. Winner wins.
Jodie Meeks for Kyle O'Quinn
The Knicks shooting guards signed for next season are Arron Afflalo and null. The Knicks were so weak at the two this season that Sasha Vujacic played 908 minutes after having accumulated just 10 NBA minutes in the four seasons prior. But they have plenty of big men with Porzingis, Robin Lopez, and Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Williams also spending time at four. So like in Orlando, O'Quinn was squeezed out of the rotation in New York despite being a productive player.
I also like the option of Terrence Jones with his inevitable divorce from Houston coming up, but O'Quinn is my preference thanks to his bargain contract, consistency, and his passing ability - which has always been good and got even better last season. He's not the three point threat stretch three at this point, despite hoisting more three point attempts in the past two years. But he's excellent from outside of 10 feet, shooting 48 percent for his career from 10-16 feet and 41 percent from 16 feet to the three point line. Also, he's a solid free throw shooter, giving the Pistons another option at center for when teams resort to hacking.
The other nice thing about KOQ is that you're not obliged to give him minutes. Spending on a free agent here, what do you do if Bullock does thoroughly deserve minutes again? You're left either having your new free agent ride the bench, which doesn't look great to the fella signing the paychecks, or just not playing Bullock because his salary has fewer digits. O'Quinn is under contract for about $4 million per year, which seems less of a big deal if he doesn't make it onto the court every night. Saving face isn't the best reason for making decisions, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be considered. Remember Josh Smith starting in the last game before he was waived? Yeah.
Pick 49 - Aleksandar Vezenkov
Vezenkov has fallen off the radar after not getting a ton of minutes for one of the top teams in the ACB, but he still put up 17/7 in the Greek league last season as a 19 year old. As a 6'9 combo forward who can shoot the hell out of the ball and put it on on the floor a bit, man, he just looks so much like a SVG guy. Draft him, stash him, let him get some more ACB work next season, then he could be able to fight for Marcus Morris' role in a year or two.
Even though 4 points and 2 rebounds aren't very exciting numbers, keep in mind that Vezenkov was a rotation player for a team that went 29-5 this season. Guys like Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja went in the lottery last season after getting limited ACB minutes, I think Vezenkov could be a great value as a second round flyer.
Sign Andre Drummond to max contract, Anthony Tolliver to 2 year, $5 million with second year team option. Steve Blake gets camp invite in case if the youngsters chasing the third string job all look unplayable. I'd like to fill the final two roster spots (with Venekov being stashed) with another wing and a big.
Big: Daniel Orton. Orton has spent time in the organization with Grand Rapids and has flashed some nice potential as a scorer/rim protector in the D-League. He's 25, so not the highest upside lottery ticket, but he also shouldn't be a trainwreck if he was forced onto the floor. Perhaps most importantly, he has shot over 70 percent from the free throw line in 2,000 D-League minutes. That's a skill that any big man we're bringing along to develop behind Drummond is probably going to need to have. He can spend more time in Grand Rapids as a potential eventual Baynes replacement.
Wing: With some solid youth in Johnson, Bullock, and Hilliard, I feel like this person needs to be a veteran presence guy. I'm going to go with Mike Miller. Denver has three first round picks this season, so they're unlikely to have the roster room to bring him back - and at 36 years old, he's indicated he's still interested in playing another season. His last two seasons have been a decline, which is worrisome, but it's also limited minutes. Typically he's a pretty reliable 40%+ three point shooter, which is nice for a break-in-case-of-emergency option. He's also hailed as a great locker room guy, the most important element since the hope would be for him to never need to see the floor. It's tempting to go with a lottery ticket youngster here, but really, how many youngsters do you need on the wing?
So that's a lot of words to basically say I pick Delon Wright and KOQ for the backup point guard and power forward spots.