Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 1 priority with players currently on the roster?
Dan Feldman: Trying to trade Josh Smith. Because he’s closer to Andre Drummond in age, Greg Monroe is a better fit than smith with franchise player Andre Drummond – regardless of how their on-court skills complement him. And because this season showed all three can’t play together, that means Smith must go. I know that won’t be easy with his contract, but I won’t be seeking much, and Smith’s contract gets better by the day as it gets closer to expiring. I won’t sacrifice assets to dump Smith and would stagger minutes between the bigs if it were necessary to keep him, but trading him is the preference.
Brady Fredericksen: Figure out whether Josh Smith or Greg Monroe are going to be paired with Andre Drummond for the foreseeable future. There is a lot, like A LOT, that this team needs to be where it wants to be, but until there’s some sort of direction with the dysfunctional front court, it’s going to be hard to make decisions elsewhere. Monroe and Smith have both had down years this season — albeit due to completely different things — but they both cannot stay. I don’t care if we clone Phil Jackson, add some stem cells from Red Auerbach and have Gregg Popovich spit on it all before finally throwing in a little Vince Lombardi for good measure; there’s no coach making those three players work as a cohesive unit.
Tim Thielke: Try to find decent value in trade for one of the big three. The trio has vastly under-performed. I believe any pair out of it, though, can form an effective front line. Some of that talent, though, has to be moved to the perimeter. I think the simplest option would be Eric Gordon for Smith.
2. If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 2 priority with players currently on the roster?
Dan Feldman: Declining the team option on Chauncey Billups. I love what Billups brought in his prime, but those days are long gone. There’s just no way to justify him occupying a roster spot for $2.5 million anymore. This is a relatively simple move, but it has to be done before July begins, so it ranks highly on the priority list.
Brady Fredericksen: Handle the Monroe’s free agency smartly. My previous answer dictates this one, but no matter what the Pistons decide on Monroe, they need to make sure they get something from him in the future. Whether that’s actual Monroe production or production from the players signed-and-traded for him, who knows. I think it’ll be very difficult to find a good sign and trade for him, mainly because if team’s are looking to sign a young big to (presumably) a max contract, they either have no inclination to give away a quality young wing player or have no quality young players to trade and are just throwing crazy money at Monroe ala Charlotte with Al Jefferson this summer.
Tim Thielke: Let the market dictate the price of Monroe. The Pistons’ worst case scenario (unless they choose to further screw themselves) is Monroe getting a max offer. That would put his contract very slightly higher than what Smith makes. If another team does so, the Pistons will probably be best off trying to sign and trade Monroe to that team unless they’ve already worked out a trade for another big.
The longer Monroe goes without being offered a deal, the lower his price tag drops. But if a GM offered $12 million per year early on, he won’t be able to adjust that to $10.5 million per just because the market stiffed him; so not tipping your hand is key.
3.If you were to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons’ general manager, what would be your No. 3 priority with players currently on the roster?
Dan Feldman: Re-signing Greg Monroe at market value. I’m definitely willing to pay him max money – at least the maximum he can get on an offer sheet with another team. But he’ll have to sign an offer sheet to get it. Otherwise, I’m negotiating to get him for less. Plus, the longer Monroe goes before signing – either with me or an offer sheet that I’ll match – the longer I’ll have extra cap flexibility, because Monroe’s cap hold is less than his likely starting salary. I definitely want Monroe back, and I’ll match any offer, but I won’t rush to overpay him.
Brady Fredericksen: Make a decision on Brandon Jennings. The NBA’s a point guard’s league right now, and the Pistons have never been able to replace Chauncey Billups. Jennings has flashes of really good play, but he’s been around for five years. In five years he’s been the same player, and he’s continued that after a change of scenery with the Pistons. Again, this comes down to Drummond. Every player the Pistons look at going forward needs to be thought of with him in mind. How do they complement Drummond? How can they make Drummond better and how can Drummond make them better?
Tim Thielke: Let Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Chauncey Billups, and Peyton Siva walk. Try to convince Jonas Jerebko to opt out of his player option. Look into dumping Jerebko, Will Bynum or Luigi Datome if it can be done without giving anything up. Middling, non-core players are a waste of valuable cap space. Those are the guys you find to fill out the roster after you’ve spent up to the cap. Get as many stars (who fit together) as possible, then pick up guys on minimum deals and with cap exceptions as needed.