What re-tooling could look like for the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons Luke Kennard. (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Luke Kennard. (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Detroit Pistons
Fred VanVleet drives against the Detroit Pistons, who are interested in him in free agency. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

A second star

Andre Drummond may not be the star power the new Pistons regime sees fitting alongside Griffin. Reading the tea leaves: they don’t.

Amidst trade rumors, Drummond appears to be on his way out and the Pistons want a first-round pick or young asset for him. Seven teams are reported to have interest in him but nothing seems imminent. Teams are hesitant to attach a young asset because he’s likely to choose free agency this summer, which he’s stated he’s excited for. He’s the top unrestricted free agent, provided Anthony Davis makes good on his wishes to re-sign with the Lakers.

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If the Pistons are looking to maximize cap space, they could trade him to avoid a surprise opt-in to the $28.8 million player option Drummond holds for the 2020-21 season. But as Drummond looks more frustrated, it seems likely he leaves Detroit despite week-old remarks that he wants to stay.

In other rumors, the Pistons have been attached to point guards, which is a position that they don’t have much invested in. They’ve reportedly had interest in pairing Frank Ntilikina with fellow Frenchman in Doumbouya. There were also reports that coach Dwane Casey could reunite with Toronto Raptors point guard in Fred VanVleet.

As of now, the Pistons have $51 million in guaranteed money returning next season, leaving roughly $60 million in spending money. That includes potential options for players like Markieff Morris. With Drummond being the marquee unrestricted free agent, the Pistons can prepare an aggressive offer for a restricted free agent.

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While attention has been on the point guard position, the Pistons could make strong offers for Brandon Ingram, Bogdan Bogdanovic or Dillon Brooks – arguably the three-best available restricted free agents. But it seems likely the Pelicans would match any offer for Ingram, their prized possession from the Davis trade, and overpaying for Bogdanovic or Brooks doesn’t seem like a play that would benefit the Pistons over the long haul.

VanVleet, 26, would bring star power, having grown up with the Raptors and being a critical part of the 2019 NBA Championship team and to their success this season. He’s averaging 18 points, 7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. A two-way guard with potential is something the Pistons have lacked for a long time.

If the Pistons were to whiff on VanVleet, they could scour the trade market. Trading for Kyle Lowry, who is signed through 2020-21, could be a one-year run. Or, perhaps, the Pistons go for a two-guard such as Jrue Holiday or Bradley Beal, though that would require trading valuable young talent that is developing in Casey’s system now.

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So the best route could be to sign a veteran point guard to a two-year deal to be freed up alongside Griffin. Goran Dragic, 33, averages 16.6 points and 5.3 assists per game in five-plus seasons with the Miami Heat. Jeff Teague, 31, averages 13.4 points and 7.2 assists per game over the last three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, though he’s been bothered by injuries.

It isn’t an easy path for the Pistons in finding that second star this summer, but if they add any of the aforementioned names, they’ll still have money to fill out their roster.