Miles Bridges checks plenty of boxes. A native of Flint, Michigan, a former star player for Michigan State, oh, and he is really good at basketball.
The 24-year-old forward also entering restricted free agency, and it’s no surprise that some Detroit Pistons fans are salivating at the idea of Bridges joining their favorite team.
But would Charlotte really let Bridges, who is coming off of a breakout season averaging 20 point, 7 rebound, and 3.8 assists, go? That remains to be seen, but reports indicate that the Hornets may not be willing to give him a max contract.
REPORT: The Hornets are not currently offering Miles Bridges a max contract.— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) June 27, 2022
(via @WindhorstESPN) pic.twitter.com/IkoOeabdGB
Ok so there’s a big difference between “not currently offering a max contract” and “not willing to offer a max contract.”
As a restricted free agent, the Hornets have right of first refusal when it comes to Bridges. That is to say, if the Hornets offer a max contract to Bridges now, they will have only bid against themselves. Instead, the Hornets are comfortable making what it feels is a competitive offer and seeing if Bridges can bring a more significant deal to the table from another team.
The only risk the Hornets incur by deploying this strategy is upsetting Bridges, but a great things for hurt feelings is the balm of a contract worth north of $120 million.
Still, it is somewhat interesting that the Hornets reportedly haven’t yet ponied up a max offer. It could be a sign that the team doesn’t think he is a max player, or it could be indicative of a relationship that’s already souring. While there’s not been much news on that front, Bridges did take “Charlotte Hornets” out of his bio on Twitter. Maybe that means something. Maybe it doesn’t.
Either way, where Bridges plays next season is ultimately up to Charlotte. If he is able to get a better offer from another team and the Hornets don’t match, Charlotte loses him for nothing. I can’t see that being an acceptable outcome for Charlotte, but stranger things have happened, and if the team really doesn’t feel that he is a max player, there may be more buyer’s remorse than if they had decided to let him walk.
So let’s say that Bridges does get a better offer and the Hornets aren’t willing to match. Would it make sense for the Pistons to be the team that makes that offer?
There’s been a lot of good PR for the Pistons this offseason. They landed arguably the guard with the highest upside in the draft in Jaden Ivey, and they also added one of the most athletic big men in Jalen Duren.
Ivey also has strong ties to Detroit with his mom, dad, and grandfather all having played sports in Detroit.
Adding another local star to the fold would accentuate an already encouraging offseason.
As good as Bridges is, however, his fit on this current squad isn’t ideal.
The problem with adding Miles Bridges to Detroit— Sean Corp (@sean_corp) June 27, 2022
Miles Bridges: More than half his shots come within 10 feet.
Jalen Duren: Two-thirds of shots within 10 feet
Jaden Ivey: 60% of shots within 10 feet
As Sean Corp tweeted yesterday, Bridges game is predicated on getting to the paint and drawing fouls. Bridges took almost six threes a game last season and only knocked down 33.1% of his attempts.
In a rotation that figures to rely heavily on Isaiah Stewart, Duren, Ivey, and Killian Hayes, there’s not a lot of shooters to capitalize on the explosive skillset that this team suddenly has in abundance.
On the other hand, there’s a lot of question marks in the aforementioned list of players. We don’t know yet what the Pistons have in the rookies, and Hayes as a viable NBA player is still very much theoretical as he enters year three of his career.
Should the Pistons really gamble on these players to develop when there’s a guy with obvious ties to Detroit that is already the better NBA player? Who knows if any of these guys ever match Bridges production.
Pay Bridges, or gamble on your young core—it’s a risk either way. That said, taking on Bridges is a gamble that will cost the Pistons north of $100 million.
Currently, it’s hard to see Charlotte letting Bridges go without getting anything in return. It’s unlikely the Pistons are willing to fork over a max or near max deal for Bridges, and his fit with Detroit’s core players isn’t great.
If the Pistons pursue Bridges I wouldn’t fault them — sometimes you grab talent and sort out the rest later. It would also be hard not to get excited about adding a player of his potential. At 24, he may just be scratching the surface. I’m just not sure it’s the best move for the Pistons, and I think I think Detroit may be better off seeing what they have with their current core and spreading some of their money around to veterans who compliment their current core better.
What do you think?