In the conversations going on about whether to take Cade Cunningham (#JustTakeCade) or trade down for more assets, one other decision keeps popping up in my mind that the Pistons will have to make this summer. I figured since the comment sections about Cade are hitting 1000+ comments in a few days, it would be better to drop the thought here instead of bogging things down further.
Clearly, the decision at the top of the draft is the most important one Troy Weaver will make this offseason. I have a thought about what the next most important decision will be though, and am curious to get your take on it.
Decisions in the pipeline include:
-What do you do with the three picks in the 2nd round of the draft?
-What do you do with the Restricted Free Agents this summer? (Dennis Smith Jr., Saben Lee, Hamidou Diallo)
-What do you do with the Unrestricted Free Agents this summer? (Frank Jackson, Wayne Ellington)
-What do you do with the Non-Guaranteed contracts this summer? (Cory Joseph 12.6/2.4 guaranteed, Rodney McGruder 5/0 guaranteed, Tyler Cook 1.7/0 guaranteed)
In my opinion, the 2nd most important decision Weaver makes will be the one about Cory Joseph.
Joseph is probably slightly overpaid, but it's not by as much as I originally thought. His salary ranked somewhere around 25th-30th for point guards in the NBA, depending on who you consider a PG. While Joseph is not a starting caliber point guard, he is getting paid starter money. His rank will likely drop further down the list into the 30s after this offseason when some players get a scheduled raise (eg: Markelle Fultz) and other get new deals entirely.
Joseph's salary all by itself isn't necessarily a reason to cut ties with him. As a player, he brought some good attributes to the position for the Pistons in the last half of the season, leading some (including me) to worry about his good play messing up the "tank". Based on his play and his salary, I honestly wouldn't mind keeping him around for one more season to be the veteran guard on the team.
In spite of his performance, Joseph's non-guaranteed contract is too big of an opportunity to pass up. His contract is an attractive asset to two types of teams:
1) Teams that are trying to stay under the luxury tax as their existing players' salaries rise.
2) Teams that are trying to create more cap space to sign players in free agency.
Because of this, I don't think Weaver should keep Joseph on the roster going into next year. He should be looking to trade Joseph to a team that needs the salary relief, and looking to either upgrade the talent at Joseph's position with the trade or acquire an asset along with a guaranteed salary.
If Weaver wants an even better exchange, he could add in McGruder and/or Cook to the trade, creating the opportunity for a team to shed almost $20 million for the price of $2.4 million.
(Note: The deadline to guarantee McGruder's contract appears to be today, 7/15, according to spotrac.com. If he's going to trade McGruder, it would have to be today.)
Maybe there isn't a trade out there that fits well. One could argue that Troy shouldn't be trading Joseph's salary if it means taking back a contract with multiple years left on it. If that's the case, I still think Weaver should shed Joseph's contract and either upgrade the position in free agency or replace him with a less pricey option if possible. I'll admit that with the way contracts are rising it might not be possible to replace Joseph this way, though Weaver did find Plumlee and Wright at fair prices last summer.
I haven't gone through the league to look at rosters and determine which teams might be motivated to trade for Joseph's NG contract, nor looked through the free agents for which might be a better/cheaper fit. I figured we just had 20+ commenters who participated in the RMMD that may have a better handle on that than me, so I'd love to discuss your ideas in the comments.
(I couldn't insert an actual poll. Are these not part of FanPosts anymore? Am I just one of those adults in the GEICO commercials who is becoming his parents? Anyways..)
What do YOU think is the second most important decision the Pistons make this summer?
What should be done with Cory Joseph?