Did Detroit Pistons really overpay for Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant?

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 05: Jerami Grant #9 of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 05: Jerami Grant #9 of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Mason Plumlee
Sep 26, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Mason Plumlee (7) chases for a rebound. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Did Detroit overpay for Mason Plumlee?

The instant reaction on Social Media to the Detroit Pistons giving Mason Plumlee a three-year, $25 million contract was not exactly positive when the news broke Friday night.

Now that there have been a lot more signings, and the Pistons roster situation is a little bit clearer, it might be time to revisit how the contract looks.

The two main objections to the signing seem to be: 1. The center spot is not a position of need for the Pistons. 2. You are giving a lot of money to Mason Plumlee.

As to the first point, at the time of the signing, center Dewayne Dedmon was expected to be on the team. He had been part of the Tony Snell trade with Atlanta.

Dedmon was eventually released, and the remaining money on his contract stretched over five years for salary cap relief.

Then, Tony Bradley (picked up in a trade with Utah) was traded on Sunday afternoon to the Philadelphia 76ers for guard Zhaire Smith.

At the moment (and we know it could change any hour), the Pistons have at center Plumlee, first-round pick Isaiah Stewart  and free agent signee Jahlil Okafor (who they got for the minimum).

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Looking at those names, are the Pistons really that deep at center?

Stewart is a 20-year-old rookie and Okafor has not been a regular in a lineup since his rookie year with the 76ers (who won 10 games that season).

Weaver promised to keep the Pistons competitive during the ‘retooling’. On opening night, December 22, of those four, who would give Detroit a better chance of winning?

Plumlee, 30, who in seven years in the NBA, has a career averages of 8.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists with a 57.8% shooting percentage. He is a fine passer for a big man, but is not an outside shooting threat.

Stewart, Bradley and Okafor are all young.  All three were also first-round picks, so they have shown potential . Any of them could develop into legitimate NBA starting centers, eventually.

But, for Game 1, Plumlee is head and shoulders above them, figuratively, as a player and deserves to be the starting center.

As for the amount of cash Detroit parked up and dumped on his lawn, that can be debated.

The general consensus could be summed up by the FanSided NBA evaluation:

"“Plumlee will serve in the same role as he did with the Denver Nuggets, and that’s as an overpaid backup center. Why are they committing $25 million to a backup center?”"

First thing to know is, Plumlee is actually taking a pay cut.

The 6-11 center is coming off a three-year deal with Denver that paid him $41 million, according to Spotrac.com.

So Plumlee is going from being paid an average of $13,666,000 a year, down to $8,333,000 for Detroit.

It is true that Plumlee has not been a regular starting center since he was in Portland four years ago. In the Nuggets historic playoff run in the Bubble (first team to rally from 3-1 deficits, two series in a row), Plumlee did not exactly play a key role. He averaged 11 minutes, 2.6 points and 3.3 rebounds.

As for his defense ….. well:

Not optimum in a big moment to get picked off like that.

But compared to other centers signed in free agency, Plumlee does not appear to be wildly overpaid.

According to Spotrac, both Jae Crowder, a sub for title-contending teams and Derrick Favors, usually a starting power forward, each are making about $4 million total more than Plumlee.

Tristan Thompson, former starting center for Cleveland’s championship team, is making about $1 million a year on average more with Boston on a two-year contract, than Plumlee.

Assuming it will take a couple of years for the Pistons to turn into Eastern Conference contenders, Plumlee, who turns 31 in March, will most likely at that point not be one of its main players.

For Plumlee, the incentive to sign with the Pistons is increased playing time  and, most likely, a bigger paycheck.

For Detroit, it appears general manager Troy Weaver is using Plumlee as a stopgap until he sees if any of his young centers develop enough to become a starter for a contending team.

Plumlee is also a movable contract in a couple years Weaver may need in a trade.

So, is Mason Plumlee overpaid? Yeah, a little.