What the Pistons Will Do This Summer
Leading up to the NBA trading deadline on February 20th, Detroit Pistons fans were at odds as to which player(s) should be traded. Some believed forward/center Greg Monroe was expendable, since he would demand a maximum contract this summer. Others thought that the experiment of Josh Smith at small forward was over and he should be shipped out, especially since a number of comparable small forwards could be considered lame ducks this season. Still others knew the huge holes the Pistons had at shooting guard and backup point guard, so the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, and possibly Jonas Jerebko could combine for a guard upgrade without negatively affecting our present starting lineup.
It appears Detroit not making any move, may lead some to the conclusion that they have a hidden agenda. In this article, we will expose possible angles the Piston administration, whoever is pulling the strings, may take.
Status of the NBA
This summer is arguably the best draft since 2003, which Pistons fans know all too well, when Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were up for grabs. A quick look appears to show that all of the top 10 players to be drafted are 19 years of age and under. Will there be an age change prior to this draft that keeps many from entering?
This is also the summer that the above prize players of 2003 have the option to change uniforms and get a pay raise. This may be as dramatic as “The Decision”. Many teams are looking to make cap space available for such a move, while others have expiring contracts and have to decide if they will sign or upgrade through the draft or free agent signings. Eleven teams (Cleveland, New Orleans, Utah, Phoenix, Dallas, Charlotte, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and LA Lakers) have committed contract money between $16M (Utah) to $47M (New Orleans). That is a little more than a third.
Current Status of the Pistons
The GM, Joe Dumars, is most likely a lame…duck. The owner, Tom Gores, has high expectations and seems to be about as impatient as the fans on getting a winning team as soon as possible. The team has an interim head coach, who no one really knows, except that he loses his voice from yelling during games. Realistically, the Pistons have committed around $38M for next year, since they will likely continue with Josh Harrellson, with Jerebko probable to sign elsewhere for more playing time. Many of the Piston players are on their rookie contracts (Kyle Singler, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gigi Datome, Peyton Siva, and Tony Mitchell). Monroe, Stuckey, Jerebko, and Villanueva are free agents or player options. Will Bynum, Harrellson, and Brandon Jennings have reasonable contracts. Chauncey Billups may decide to retire and drift into the Piston head office. This leaves Smith, who is arguably overpaid.
Re-sign Greg Monroe
One issue the Pistons administration will need to figure out is if they will re-sign Monroe. He wants a maximum contract, but it is doubtful he will get it from the Pistons. Another team may be a different story. If the Pistons re-sign Monroe, they would most likely have only around $10M (give or take) left to fill the roster and sign our draft picks. How would this assist this team, since this $10M would also have to be used if we are to sign Stuckey, or someone to take his place?
Pull a “Ben Wallace for Grant Hill” Deal
This action is typically also known as a “sign and trade”. With all the teams wanting to make room for potential big name free agents, it is highly likely that there will be some teams who are let down. This would be a great opportunity for our GM (notice how I didn’t say Dumars?) to either have someone sign and trade for Josh Smith, or turn the tables and sign and trade Monroe to another team. Here are a couple possibilities:
Sign Monroe and Trade for Kevin Love
This makes a lot of sense for both teams. Love wants out of Minnesota and the Timberwolves would enjoy pairing a younger Monroe with someone four years older in Nikola Pekovic. The Pistons would love (see what I did there?) to place Kevin Love as a big “stretch 4”. He would be able to play down low, but the Pistons would gain his sharp-shooting 3-point shot to assist in spreading the floor. The Minnesota Timberwolves would rather trade Love to someone in another conference, so that he doesn’t come back and haunt them in later years. The Pistons would be a prime location.
Trade Josh Smith for a Sign and Trade Luol Deng
The Cleveland Cavs would savor the chance to get a potential all-star in Josh Smith, in exchange for someone who just wants off the team. Why didn’t this happen at the trade deadline? There was no guarantee that Deng would re-sign with the Pistons. Then they would be free and clear with no small forward and backup power forward, while their present power forward is also a free agent. Pretty messy stuff. Deng would have to agree to this, of course, which I believe he would.
These are just two examples, but the options are endless.
Trade Josh Smith Outright
No one saw Joe Dumars trading Brandon Knight and getting back Brandon Jennings last summer. Maybe there will be another discussion about dogs and another trade takes place. (It sounds like Ersan Ilyasova desires to get out of Milwaukee…the same place Dumars’ ol’ buddy John Hammonds is…but that would mean that Dumars is still our GM). If the Pistons trade Josh Smith, will they trade Smith for a small forward, or will Kyle Singler stay a starter by switching over from shooting guard to where he is more suited for in small forward? Again, there are many teams who would be opening their pocket book for a big name to come to their team. Before they end up empty-handed they may consider a trade for Josh Smith.
Trade a Piston for Draft Pick on Draft Night
These are always scary. At this point, under Dumars’ tenure, he has only traded or exchanged a recently drafted player or a future draft pick. Some executives have perfected this art, however, it would be a huge lucky streak if the Pistons were to pull something off that was highly successful in this manner. This year’s draft is supposed to be very deep, so I doubt that would put the Pistons in a good negotiating position to pull something off on draft night.
Many scenarios could happen, but doing nothing is NOT one of them. Many have speculated that Dumars’ days are numbered and a higher profile GM and coach (like Phil Jackson) may make a huge difference in what the Pistons can do this coming summer, given all of the potential players who may be around. The Pistons have some good pieces, however, they will need to make the right moves at the right time. This could end in a very good way, or it could continue to be disastrous. Keep your fingers crossed!
It’s Your Turn…
Which angle do you see the Pistons playing?
Can we keep Smith and Sign Monroe?
Who do you see moving, Smith or Monroe?
Share your thoughts!