The Detroit Pistons are sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, so it's hard not to think about a brighter future.
While the Pistons clearly have some nice young players in Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson and Jaden Ivey, there are questions about how they all fit, and how they are going to get the right team around them to make a leap some time soon.
With potentially 7-8 open roster spots after this season, the Pistons could have a much different roster soon and will need some veteran talent to fill it out. They can't take on more salary dumps for second-round picks, but need to use their cap space to add impact talent.
With few options in 2024 free agency, the Pistons could turn to the trade market, or they could try to reunite with a familiar face.
Should the Pistons pursue Tobias Harris in free agency?
Tobias Harris is arguably the best unrestricted free agent on the market next summer, so he's going to get paid by someone. Detroit will likely have the cap space to go after him and there are some solid arguments for doing so.
Harris has been the definition of reliable over his career, as he rarely misses games. He played all 82 in his last full season in Detroit and has played 80, 82, 72, 62 (shortened season), 73 and 74 games since, so he has no history of injuries and you can pencil him into the lineup every night, something the Pistons desperately need after the catastrophic injuries they've had to their veterans.
And when Harris is out there, he's a bucket, as he's averaged 16.3 per game for his career and has always been good for around that number. He's getting 19 per game this season while shooting 54 percent overall from the field.
Harris a professional NBA player through and through, a great veteran presence, a stable scoring option and most importantly, he plays every night. These are qualities the Pistons need in their next wave of veterans.
The problems with Tobias Harris
But there are some issues.
The first is that he'll be 32 years old next summer and will likely still command a hefty contract. I don't know if he'll get a max deal, but it will be close, so someone is going to be paying max money for less-than-prime years from Harris. It's possible he'll do a shorter deal with a larger annual value, but it's going to cost whoever signs him. He'd undoubtedly be the highest-paid Piston next season, and when you put it that way it sounds like a disaster.
There's also a question of fit, as Harris doesn't take a ton of 3-point shots and does most of his work in the mid-range and upper paint, the same spots Cade Cunningham likes to operate. Harris has never shot even six per game from long range and is only averaging 3.4 attempts per game this season. Harris knows how to get buckets and you have to guard him, so it's hard to argue that he'd make the spacing worse, but it would be a concern.
There's also the fact that Harris may want no part of a reunion with the worst team in the NBA, as he is firmly in the ring-chasing stage of his career and has already made plenty of money. He's more likely to take a little less to stay with Philly or join another contender. Like Monty Williams, the Pistons would probably have to make him an offer he couldn't refuse, which may not be the smartest financial move and one they could end up regretting.
The Pistons need veterans who can play moving forward and Harris fits the description, but there are a lot of questions that would have to be answered before a reunion is anything more than a long shot.