While Blake Griffin has physically moved on from the Detroit Pistons, most of his massive contract still counts on his former team’s salary cap. This does limit the moves general manager Troy Weaver can make in the off-season.
When teams finish with the second-worst record in the NBA, usually words like ‘sweeping change’ and ‘ready to make big moves’ are used in the post-season press conferences by team management.
However, the day after the season, general manager Troy Weaver was more muted in his comments. He phrased things for the Pistons as ‘not many roster spots available’ and ‘improving in-house.
A team that just went 20-52 basically standing pat is an unusual strategy. However, there are two unusual factors involving the Pistons:
- Detroit just went through a massive roster overhaul. Only one player from last year’s team, Sekou Doumbouya, survived to the end of the season. Many of the newcomers were promising young players.
- The Pistons salary cap situation for next season is not optimum.
Usually teams that are bad have gobs of salary cap space. No point in paying players a lot of money when you are not winning.
But the Detroit Pistons are in that weird situation of losing lots of games, and not having a lot of cap space.
(all salary cap info courtesy Spotrac.com)
Counting everything, guaranteed contracts, dead money and cap holds, the Pistons are about $31 million OVER next season’s projected salary cap of around $112 million.
This is not a talent evaluation of who should stay or go. It’s a consideration of the financial implications of who does stay or go. Also, discovering what is at this point, totally outside of the Pistons control.
So how did Detroit get in this situation? Breaking it down, the answer is pretty simple: The Ghost of Blake Griffin’s contract still haunts the Pistons.