The Detroit Pistons entered last offseason with a bunch of cap space and plenty of needs.
The free-agent group wasn't laden with stars, so Troy Weaver decided to punt $30 million in cap space into the expiring contracts of Joe Harris and Monte Morris. Morris has yet to play a single minute for Detroit (and may not) and Joe Harris played seven games (averaging 3 points per) before joining Morris on the injury list.
For the third straight offseason, Weaver used his cap space for salary dumps instead of trying to sign players who could help his team compete and it shows. While the other rebuilds are improving or even thriving, the Pistons have miraculously gotten worse.
Defenders of this strategy say that there were no impact free agents the Pistons could have signed, that this is another "development" year, or is it an "evaluation" year, I can't remember anymore. They claim that spending big money in free agency wouldn't have been prudent given where the team is in their rebuild.
These folks (who ALWAYS defend Troy Weaver) are partially right. There were free agents the Pistons rightfully avoided, but there were also several who have been home runs for their current teams and almost certainly would have helped Detroit. You can argue whether the financial obligation was worth it, but you can't argue with the results, which is that the Pistons have the worst record in the league and are on the verge of setting the all-time franchise record for consecutive losses in a season.
Let's start with the flops the Pistons rightfully stayed away from and then get to some of the guys they missed on in retrospect.
Veteran free-agent flops
Seth Curry and Joe Ingles
The Pistons needed veteran shooters but passed on pursuing Seth Curry, who has been one of the best 3-point shooters in the league over his career. He signed a modest 2-year/$8 million deal with Dallas, the second of which is not guaranteed.
So far, he's averaging just three points per game on a career-low 26 percent from long range. He's been relegated to mop-up duty for Dallas, though he'd probably be in the starting lineup for Detroit the way things are going.
Same for Ingles, who has been better than Curry and is actually playing bench minutes for the Magic. He's a good veteran leader, but $11 million per season is a lot for a guy who scores four points per game and isn't knocking down 3's at his career rate.
The Pistons did well to avoid these two, though they've been better than the two veterans Detroit did use their cap space on, so I suppose I'd rather have Ingles for one year than Joe Harris. Troy Weaver will probably trade for Ingles next offseason and collect another second-round pick.