With a relatively underwhelming free agent class looming in the summer of 2020, should the Detroit Pistons stick with what they already have?
After trading away Andre Drummond at the February 6th deadline, the Detroit Pistons have some uncertainty in the future at the center position.
Both Christian Wood and Thon Maker are expected to play a majority of the center minutes, but beyond this season there’s currently no clear answer on whether or not that will continue to be the case through next season.
John Henson, who was acquired from Cleveland in the Drummond deal has been splitting time with Maker and Wood at center.
Both Henson and Wood will become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Maker will be restricted, so any team that attempts to pry him way from Detroit could be met with a matching offer, keeping him with the Pistons.
The upcoming free agent pool is – relative to next years’ and years’ passed – underwhelming. A large majority of the centers that are going to hit the market are more or less tied to the teams that they’re currently with.
Meaning that in almost no scenario would the Pistons be able to pull talent away from another franchise without overpaying them, which in a rebuilding state isn’t at all optimal.
So unless they land another center in the upcoming NBA Draft, the market is going to be relatively thin.
It’s possible that Detroit could shift Wood to a full-time center instead of splitting minutes between there and at power forward, which could eliminate the necessity to have three centers on your team.
This way the Pistons could just focus on paying both Wood and Maker and let Henson walk, so they can utilize the cap space elsewhere.
However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Detroit to A.) have a contingency plan in place in the event that Wood or Maker get into foul trouble or get injured. B.) have a veteran presence at the center position to help maximize their development.
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If this is the route that the front office chooses, then fans can expect Henson would be one of the first candidates on the list.
In his two games played for Detroit this season Henson is averaging 9.5 points per game along with 6.0 rebounds on 90 percent shooting. These are sustainable numbers (minus the field goal percentage) given the Pistons’ circumstances.
As it was previously mentioned, he’s in the final year of his contract. He signed a 4 year $48 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016, and has since been moved to his third team in that four year span.
The issue with re-signing him would come from a numbers standpoint. His current contract is back-loaded so there’s a chance that no matter where he signs, if it’s another four year deal, that could once again be the case.
He’s making $8.7 million this season, and that may be what the annual value of his contract is moving forward, as opposed to the $11.2 million he made in the first year of this contract.
The Pistons will have a good chunk of their current salary coming off the books this summer (including Josh Smith) so they could afford to pay Henson if they so choose.
A deal somewhere in the range of 3 years $25 million brings great value for all parties involved. He could be a cost efficient option that will benefit the slow moving process of a rebuild.