The Detroit Pistons are heading into one of their more important offseason’s in recent memory. What should they prioritize?
The Detroit Pistons are in a unique spot going into this unprecedented off season. They’re one of six teams with significant cap space, sitting somewhere around $30 million depending on the final cap number, which makes them a free agency threat for the first time in years.
I know what you’re thinking; “No superstar will sign in Detroit”. Sure, you’re probably right, but this free agency class isn’t about superstars, it’s about young players who may come grow with Detroit if you slightly overpay them.
I’ve been adamant on using the Piston’s abundance of cap space in the trade market, but there is still some possible great value to be had in this generally underwhelming free agency class. Here’s my off season free agency priority list:
2. Brandon Ingram (Throw the bag and see what happens)
3. Malik Beasley (Throw part of a bag and see what happens)
4. Harry Giles
5. Sign veterans to 1 year deals to fill out the roster
1. Christian Wood
The absolute biggest priority is to keep Christian Wood in Detroit long term. It’s not often that you find an all star level talent for essentially free (picking him up on a waiver claim last summer), so whatever it takes, you keep him around.
The Pistons have his early bird rights which means that if they sign him for the MLE (around $9.7 million), he only counts for a very small number against their cap space. THAT would be an incredible value for everyone.
There’s a chance that his play this past season might earn him more than that on the open market, but either way, you pay that man and keep him around. Worst case, you pay a little more than you want to keep the brightest spot in your season around long term.
Additionally, you can go over the cap to sign Christian Wood, so if you have other moves, either trades or signings, you need to make first, you can still retain Wood.
2. Brandon Ingram
The next 2 steps are where things get interesting. The Pistons are one of only a few teams with significant cap space (projected $30M), which means they could be a major player in the restricted free agency game.
With a restricted free agent, the current team has the ability to match ANY offer sheet that another team agrees to with the player.
Looking at a player like Brandon Ingram (arguably the best free agent in this class assuming Anthony Davis opts into his player option), you’d assume the Pelicans match any offer, but you never really know how much money a team is willing to commit to someone until they do, especially with COVID-19 likely impacting the revenue stream.
The Pistons could, and should jump in and give Brandon Ingram the most money possible, with a contract structure built to put some pressure on the Pelicans. Would the Pelicans match a max contract sheet Ingram? Probably, but if they don’t, the Pistons could walk away with a budding young star in Brandon Ingram.
For a team with money, this is worth the risk.
3. Malik Beasley
Next up is the new Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley. Beasley was buried on the Nuggets bench behind more proven wings for the last year, but flourished once he was traded to Minnesota and given a bigger role.
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In 14 games with the Timberwolves, he’s averaged 20.7 points per game on 43 percent three-point shooting. He’s an athletic guard who can score, and the Pistons have been short on those for a long time.
Like Ingram, he’s a restricted free agent and you’d assume the Timberwolves match any reasonable offer. The Pistons could give the Timberwolves a tough decision to make by offering Beasley a bit more than he’s worth though.
He’s 23 years old and like Ingram and Wood I believe he’s worth a slight overpay to get him on your team. With the Minnesota likely drafting Anthony Edwards with the number one pick, that could reduce their desire to match a large offer sheet for Malik Beasley who plays the same position.
4. Harry Giles
Next is the most puzzling possibility. It’s puzzling because Harry Giles should be a restricted free agent this summer, which would give the Kings the ability to match any offer. However, for whatever reason the Kings decided against that back in November, which means Harry Giles is free to go where he chooses.
A young big with loads of potential. If he can stay healthy, he can be a really nice piece to add to the Pistons developing young core, and he shouldn’t cost a whole ton.
5. Signing veterans to fill out the roster
The final piece of the puzzle is retaining cap flexibility going forward. Using the remaining cap space should be reserved for one year deals. Grab guys who will help the locker room and guide this young team. One year deals gives you two things:
1. Veterans on expiring contracts are always in demand come trade deadline time. Teams that are in the playoff hunt are more likely to give up an asset to grab a contributing veteran on an expiring deal. You can include them in trades in-season to bring back assets and take on long term money a team wants to rid itself of.
2. You have that cap space to use next summer, where teams are going to be desperately trying to clear cap space. Again, you use that space in trades to acquire assets in exchange for taking in long term, unwanted money.
In summary, I see only two options for this summer’s free agency. Either use the money on young players with potential, or use that money to sign veterans on one year deals. The Pistons have money for the first time in years, it’s on them to use it wisely.