Understanding the Detroit Pistons position with Marvin Bagley III
GM Troy Weaver admitted he made a mistake not giving coach Dwane Casey an athletic big man at the start of the season. He corrected that error on February 10 when, as part of a four-team trade, Detroit got Bagley III from the Sacramento Kings.
As most NBA fans know, Bagley, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound center/forward, was the second overall pick in the draft in 2018. The Kings passed on Trae Young, Luka Doncic and Jaren Jackson Jr to select the Duke big man.
Bagley was decent for Sacramento, averaging 14.6 points and 7.5 his first three seasons. But the shadow of whom Sacramento passed on to take him, began to sour things between Bagley and the club. With none of the coaches or management who picked him still there, Bagley saw his role diminish this past season.
It was definitely time for Bagley to get a fresh start, and Detroit got him for very little (couple of low second-round picks, plus Trey Lyles and Josh Jackson), as the Kings obviously were looking to move on.
Bagley immediately established a chemistry with Cade Cunningham. He becoming a lob threat gave the Pistons an offensive option they had not had previously. Bagley went back up to his normal numbers with Detroit, 14.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, and with a career-best 55-percent shooting percentage.
After the season, Bagley expressed his desire to return to the Pistons:
Cap hold meant Pistons had to move fast on Bagley
One quirk in Bagley’s contract made Detroit have to prioritize signing Bagley.
Although Detroit only had to offer him a $7.2 million qualifying offer, because he had been a No. 2 overall pick in the draft, his cap hold was a massive $28 million.
Until the Pistons signed Bagley to a new contract, or renounced his rights (which they did not want to do), he counted as $28 million on their books. They really could not make any moves with Bagley’s cap hold sucking up most of their salary cap space.
With the other NBA teams knowing of Detroit’s interest in bringing back Bagley, and the fact the Pistons had much more cap space than almost any other team, it is not really surprising Bagley did not get much outside interest.
The cash-flush Pistons could match any offer since he was a restricted free agent, so why bother?
With free agency starting July 1, general manager Troy Weaver was facing a a bit of a deadline. He needed to get Bagley’s contract done to get that cap hold removed. The signing was made public June 30.
With Bagley in the bag, Weaver was then free to do the wheeling and dealing he is known for.
So was Bagley really that outrageously overpaid? Now that most of the free agent season is complete, let look at how his contract ranks.