For the Detroit Pistons NBA Free Agency is going to be like their own version of A Quiet Place. Nary a peep will be uttered, every creak and crack will sound deafening, and fans will be left with an uneasy pit in their stomach at best or completely hopeless at worst.
Judging by recent history, however, it’s when the team makes a bunch of noise that truly Bad Things happen. Detroit is going on a decade-plus of bungling free agency so bad that it sets the franchise back years.
The Pistons have no money to spend in free agency this year. the Pistons not being able to do anything is probably the most exciting offseason devleopment for this fan base since 2008.
Follow me on a perilous journey, if you dare.
Nov. 4, 2008
The Pistons shock the NBA by trading Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess for Allen Iverson. The team makes noise about how excited they are to have The Answer, but, really, it’s about offloading salary and retooling on the fly via free agency to remain competitive.
July 8, 2009
The Pistons sign two of the *shudder* top free agents on the market — Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva for a combined $85 million over five years.
June 26, 2012
The Gordon and Villanueva signings are an unmitigated disaster and Joe Dumars, in an effort to save his job and turn the fortunes of the franchise around, trades Ben Gordon and a first-round pick to the Charlotte Bobcats for expiring deals. The whole premise was to open up cap space the following season so the team could ... retool on the fly via free agency and become competitive.
July 6, 2013
The Pistons use their new-found largess to hand over the biggest contract in the franchise’s history to JOSH SMITH. I can’t even. Free Agency in Detroit, ladies and gentlemen.
July 14, 2014
Stan Van Gundy has the reigns now, and he takes a mostly cautious approach to free agency. But he just can’t help himself and comes to terms with Jodie Meeks on a three-year, $19 million deal. Injuries plague Meeks and he is eventually traded to Orlando.
July 22, 2015
The Pistons cut ties with Smith, who is awul, making his team awful and making fans actively scream out for him not to shoot 3-pointers. I REALLY can’t even. In the team’s infinite wisdom, the decision is made to not simply cut Smith but to stretch him using a new tool in the recently passed CBA. This means his salary obligation is stretched for double the remaining years on his contract plus one. So instead of paying him approximately $15 million in 2015 and 2016, he is paid $5.4 million until 2020. Yup, he’s still getting paid. This was all done to open up the maximum amount of cap space to use in free agency. Of course.
July 8, 2016 - July 12, 2016
Van Gundy finally has that free agent war chest he wanted — the flexibility that was worth spending what amounts to the taxpayer mid-level exception on your cap for five years for the pleasure of having Josh Smith not play for your team. And what does Van Gundy use it all on?
Boban played 464 minutes in Detroit before getting traded away to the Clippers. Leuer has played 83 games in two seasons in Detroit and he was really good for about 35 of them. Collectively, the trio were given $81 million contracts.
July 6, 2017
Van Gundy’s last free agent folly was Langston Galloway for three years and $21 million. In truth, I like Galloway as a high-volume 3-point sniper at the off guard position. You know who didn’t like him? Stan Van Gundy. The whole point of having a coach and a president be the same person was that the coach could get players he actually wanted and use them. Looks like president Van Gundy didn’t talk to coach Van Gundy about this one.
The Pistons are capped out and nudging up against the luxury tax. The team still has needs — a backup point guard who can shoot to battle Smith, little offensive depth on the wings, but no money to address needs.
The best-case scenario is that the free agent market is so tepid that the team can bring back Anthony Tolliver at forward. If not maybe James Ennis can return. Otherwise it is sign a league minimum guy and pray for a breakout.
If the team gets really lucky, and they are aggressive, maybe they can trade the expiring Ish contract and the non-guaranteed Eric Moreland deal to a team that wants to maximize 2019 cap space, and the Pistons can get a real player with multiple years left.
But one thing is for certain, as far as free agency is concerned — nobody is walking through that door.
And that’s probably for the best.