It wasn’t long ago that the Detroit Pistons had one of the worst payroll situations in the entire NBA.
Troy Weaver has managed to transform the roster in just two years, getting rid of the poor value deals that were holding the Pistons back.
The Pistons’ cap sheet is clean, they still have a little cap space to play with and will once again go into next offseason potentially having the most cap space in the NBA.
It doesn’t really matter until there is a winning product on the court, as plenty of teams have turned great payroll situations into bad ones, but the Detroit Pistons are set up financially to have long-term success.
The Detroit Pistons don’t have a single bad contract
Most NBA fans wouldn’t be able to guess who the Pistons’ highest-paid player is going into next season.
That player is bench forward/center Kelly Olynyk, who will be making $12.8 million next season with a non-guaranteed year after that.
They don’t have a single guy on the payroll that you’d look at and say “wow, that guy is getting vastly overpaid.” You can quibble about Marvin Bagley III’s contract being slightly too high (who cares?) but it’s still a value deal for a role player and potentially a steal if he becomes more.
Cade Cunningham is the 3rd-highest paid player, a guy who could be a superstar before his rookie extension, and the next two spots are Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, two fairly-priced role players whose contracts turn into team options next season.
The only real knocks will be the dead money going to DeAndre Jordan, Dewayne Dedmon and Kemba Walker’s buyout, but none of that will have a real impact past next season. (I still don’t understand the Dedmon thing but it goes for $2.8 million for two additional seasons).
Everyone else is on a rookie deal or a decent value short-term contract that doesn’t go beyond next season.
The Pistons don’t have any max contracts…yet
Detroit doesn’t have anyone on a max deal, which is obviously one of the reasons that they only won 23 games last season.
Getting the right guys on these deals is what is important, and so far the Pistons have a few guys who look like they will be candidates.
I think Cade Cunningham is a no-brainer given what we’ve seen so far, and I don’t think it’s crazy to think Jaden Ivey will eventually be one of those guys as well.
Saddiq Bey is a strong possibility, though he’ll have to play more consistently to get it, Isaiah Stewart is more likely to get solid role player money, and it’s far too early to project about Jalen Duren.
The Pistons are set up to have to max stars in Cade and Ivey, two premium role players in Bey and Stewart and a wild card in Duren who could be either or somewhere in between.
That means they should still have future cap space to pursue a third star at the time when this group is ready to compete for the playoffs, and they’ll have a number of ways to get him via trade or free agency.
The Pistons have a chance to have a roster with the right balance of role players and stars that would allow them to have the sustained success we’ve all been waiting for. None of this matters until we see it on the court, as contracts don’t win basketball games, but Detroit is finally in a position to get back to the top of the NBA.