There's part of me that feels like we can fix this thing easily. Trade Andre Drummond while he still has some trade value, shift around a few roles, call it a day.
But I think there's a bit more to do from the Pistons' side of things to get where they need to be, plus several good opportunities to improve. So let's get to it.
Non-guaranteed and options:
Aron Baynes: player option $6,500,000 - opts out
Darrun Hilliard: team option $1,014,750 - keep
Drummond to Phoenix; Johnson, Dragan Bender, Brandon Knight, and 2018 Pistons 1st to Indiana; Paul George to Pistons
Yes, George only has a year left. Yes, folks assume he'll leave to the Lakers. It's still worth it. The Lakers suck and the Pistons will be able to make the best offer. The most money and a better team, that's where George will sign. You don't get many chances to have a shot at a top 15 player on your team. To pass that up out of fear he might leave is foolish. George is leaving Indiana because Larry Bird was a terrible executive and he knew the front office there would never lead to a championship. Is Magic Johnson some brilliant general manager? I don't think so. Winning and the most money will beat less money and playing for a 25 win team in Los Angeles. And even if it doesn't, it's worth the risk to at least have a realistic chance on a player like Paul George being a Piston.
The theory of Andre Drummond fits in great alongside the core of Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, and Marquess Chriss - and they give up little to get him. They're also primed to add a talented young point guard to add to the core. Whether it's Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, or Dennis Smith, that's a solid looking core.
Before Paul George openly said he wouldn't sign back with Indiana, I was looking at Detroit having to part with their 12 pick to Phoenix with them sending their 3 pick to Indiana. Their leverage just got a lot lower, which gives Detroit all the more reason to chase him. But in this deal, Indiana still gets some talented youth and a pick. This is the best you're going to do with most of the league assuming he's heading to the Lakers.
Marcus Morris and Jon Leuer for Bismack Biyombo and 25th pick
I think Biyombo may be the best buy low candidate in the league thanks to Rob Hennigan's awfulness as a general manager. Orlando doesn't want to pay a backup center $17 million. This gets them out of that deal, balances their roster, and adds some depth. Biyombo's the type of defense-first, rebounding, rim running center that I like. And he was brilliant when he had the chance to start in Toronto. Enes Kanter on a similar deal (perhaps without the pick back) is another option if you'd rather have an offense-first guy.
Jackson for Rubio
This deal came up at the trade deadline and I was initially meh. I've changed my mind. Rubio is obviously a far superior defensive player and distributor than Jackson and actually has become a more efficient scorer too - 53 percent true shooting percentage over the past two years to 52 percent for Jackson. I'm fine with holding on Jackson, but if Minnesota wants to dump Rubio we might as well take them up on it. Rubio is the superior player in pretty much every facet except creating his own shot. Though this is the spot where I'd accept you preferring Kanter's offense over Biyombo's defense.
12: Zach Collins
I would be tempted to take him with the second pick for the Pistons. That he may drop to 12 is a coup.
25: Jawun Evans
I'm looking for the best available point guard or wing prospect with this pick. Evans is the best bet. He contributes in a variety of ways and would probably be a lottery pick if he was just a few inches taller. I don't get why folks assign so much weight to height for point guard prospects. The best point guards are all 5'9 to 6'3. Is there even a decent full time point guard in the league taller than 6'4?
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (RFA): 4 year, $98,419,538 deal, fifth year player option
With Drummond's deal off the books, I'm much less nervous about paying KCP.
Reggie Bullock (RFA): 3 year, $12,000,000
Giving him a rotation spot and he might wind up being the best value in the league.
Beno Udrih: Walk
Kris Jenkins: $815,615 undrafted free agent
I feel like with the depth of this draft, there are going to be some really good UFAs. Jenkins has a unique build for the team and can shoot.
Adreian Payne: $815,615 league minimum
Minnesota didn't pick up his final year option, never really got much of a chance after his rookie season. He can push Henry Ellenson to improve as the stretch four option.
Rubio, KCP, George, Harris, Biyombo
Ish, Bullock, Boban
Evans, Gbinije, Hilliard, Jenkins, Ellenson, Payne, Collins
George and Harris can take care of extra power forward with Ellenson and Collins fighting for minutes to make that unnecessary. Hilliard is the next man up on the wing if Bullock struggles or gets hurt.
It's more changes than I expected to make, but you have improvements in true shooting percentage and defensively at every new rotation spot.
Will they miss Drummond's rebounding? I don't think so. Biyombo was a 20.8 percent rebound percentage guy in Toronto and George brings in 3-4 more rebounds per game than Morris.
I don't love having two non-scorers in the starting lineup, but hey, that just means more touches for George, Harris, and KCP. But also you're left with lockdown defenders at every position but power forward when Harris is there. I'll take that. What do you say?