The Detroit Pistons last played a competitive basketball game March 11. That’s 215 days as of this publication. The game was a 124-106 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the team’s fifth loss in a row and 12 in its final 13 games.
There is no definitive date for when a new season will resume, but there are plenty of important milestones we have a reasonable expectation of when they will take place from the NBA Draft to free agency and more. Here is the definitive offseason roadmap for Detroit Pistons fans.
Sept. 28 to Oct. 16 — NBA Draft Combine
Concluding shortly will be the first phase of the NBA Draft Combine. This includes videoconference interviews with NBA prospects. The next phase, which is slated to last until mid-November are on-court programs for measurements, strength and agility testing, and streamed ‘pro day’ events for prospects.
There is also an expanded NBA tool called “Combine HQ,” which is an interactive online platform with scouting information gathered during the on-court portion of this year’s combine, tools to compare players, including from prior draft years and current NBA players, detailed shot charts and statistic.
Oct. 16-Nov. 16 — NBA Draft Prospect Interviews
The NBA is allowing limited in-person interviews between prospects and NBA teams, according to Shams Charania. The in-person meetings consist of medical evaluations, workouts and interviews. Teams are allowed two visits per player and are limited to 10 prospect interviews.
Mid-November — Salary Cap, Player Options, Escrow, Free Agency, etc.
Before players can sign contracts and teams can use draft picks, all teams will need to have a much firmer sense of the NBA landscape, and that means before the NBA Draft, the league will need to hammer out details on what the salary cap number will be and when player options will trigger, how the league will deal with the revenue shortfall and all the other bean counter considerations. While this is not a feature the NBA has publicized in great detail, it has put a firm date on the NBA Draft, which means they had a deadline they need to meet.
Nov. 18 — NBA Draft
The NBA Draft will be held Nov. 18 and will air on ESPN. The Pistons hold the No. 7 overall pick and zero second rounders. This is the date the Pistons will surely draft its next superstar.
Nov. 26-ish — Player options, qualifying offers
In a typical season, player and team options must be determined roughly two days before the beginning of free agency. While I think free agency will hit on Dec. 1, the league has hinted they might want it slightly sooner. So we will go with about Nov. 26 for team options.
That means that by Nov. 26, the Pistons will have definitively made a decision on whether they want to give Thon Maker a qualifying offer and making him a restricted free agent, or if they want to move on and make him unrestricted. Maker’s qualifying offer would be $4.8 million, and I doubt he would attract more than that on the free agent market. My guess is the team lets him walk despite having only a handful of people under contract.
The team also has a team option on Svi Mykhailiuk that it will surely exercise, and Tony Snell has a player option I’m sure he will pick up. Bruce Brown’s salary is not guaranteed, but the PIstons will live with that bargain for as long as it can, and Khyri Thomas’ deal is also non-guaranteed, but I’ll be curious whether the team wants to invest more time in the young guard’s development.
Nov. 28-ish to Dec. 1-ish — NBA Free Agency
Typically, the NBA Draft is held in late June and NBA Free Agency begins on July 1. The league has stated that they would like to begin free agency before the beginning of December, which means they are looking at a similar window that would follow the Nov. 18 draft.
The Pistons will have a lot of holes to fill on its rotation, but only has one major objective in free agency and that is to re-sign young(ish) big man Christian Wood to a long-term deal. After that, the Pistons will maybe try to flip a veteran or two (Snell, Derrick Rose) for additional assets and the team will be open to using it’s gargantuan cap space to absorb another team’s bad contract in exchange for young players and picks.
Otherwise, it will be a focus on young players with upside and perhaps a “gritty” placeholder veteran or two. Brandon Knight, John Henson and Langston Galloway will all be free agents and I imagine only Galloway has a small chance of returning (though I hope he finds greener pastures elsewhere).
December? January? March? — New season begins
There will be pressure on the NBA to announce plans for next season as soon as possible, but the league will have every reason to delay a decision as long as possible. The league and its players don’t seem to have the appetite for another bubble experience, and owners want butts in seats to generate some revenue. The more pressure there is to allow fans to attend games, the more likely the start of the season is pushed perhaps even into March. If it doesn’t seem like mitigation efforts are working and a vaccine won’t be widely available, the owners might relent and begin a season sooner in front of empty arenas.
The players, at least those that played long into the playoffs, will also likely hope for a bit of an actual offseason to recuperate, so I am guessing the league doesn’t start until February. But we shall see.