The Detroit Pistons are about to face serious financial challenges

Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons / Luke Hales/GettyImages

When Troy Weaver took over as GM of the Detroit Pistons, his immediate mission was clear.

Get rid of bad contracts (he only really had one) and dead weight and start to rebuild from the ground up, tanking for high draft picks and hopefully adding the elite talent that would be the foundation of the Pistons' future.

We can debate whether he's achieved that last part, but he has given the Detroit Pistons financial flexibility, as they might have the cleanest cap sheet in the NBA after deadline trades that sent their highest-paid player packing.

Going into next season, the Pistons' highest-paid player will be Isaiah Stewart at $15 million and Cade Cunningham will be the only other Piston making over $10 million.

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But rookie contracts don't last forever, so the Pistons' roster is about to get a lot more expensive and there will be pressure on them to finally start winning.

The Cade Cunningham max contract and the Detroit Pistons' cap space

Cade Cunningham will be eligible for a max extension this summer that will push him into some big numbers financially:

Second contracts are all about potential, as many of the players coming off their rookie deals are nowhere near their peak as athletes or players and that includes Cunningham, who has missed a lot of games and has yet to enjoy anything close to a winning season.

That salary is going to put immediate pressure on Weaver (if he's still around) to start building a team in earnest, as they will lose some of the flexibility he is always talking about. There will also be pressure on Cade Cunningham to start winning games, as that second deal is when players should really start to produce.

The Pistons will have a decision to make on free agent Simone Fontecchio, who has been a nice addition. But they have to be careful here, as Fontecchio is 28 years old and probably shouldn't be a starter on a team that is fighting for the playoffs. He wasn't good enough to start in Utah and the Pistons need to approach his salary with that in mind. He's a role player who is what he is at this point in his career, so they can't go crazy and overpay him.

Detroit also has a decision to make on the team option for Evan Fournier, though that should be an easy call, as there is no way on Earth he is worth $19 million. They should cut ties with him, though could pick up that option if they want a bigger expiring contract to use in a trade. That shouldn't happen unless the Pistons already have a trade set up and need his salary, but I see this as a remote long shot.

The rest of the roster will still be cheap, but that won't last long either, as both Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren will be eligible for their extensions next summer and then Ausar Thompson behind them the following year.

This is the challenge of building around players who are all on similar timelines financially, as they are all going to get a bump in salary at around the same time, which makes it hard to keep them all and still have enough cap space to fill out the rest of the roster with impact players, especially if they are paying a combined $30 million per year to Stewart and Fontecchio.

And this is before you get to this summer, when the Pistons hope to land an impact player via free agency or trade. Slot in another guy making $30 million a year and this starts to get tricky with extensions for Ivey and Duren looming. If you think those two are max guys (I do not), then you are talking about having four players making big bucks, three of whom have never won a thing at the NBA level.

This is going to take some savvy maneuvering and perhaps a trade of one of the Core Four, especially if they don't show the type of progress they need to next season, the kind that would make the Detroit Pistons want to invest heavily in their future.