The Detroit Pistons were slated to be big players in the free agent market. They were scheduled to have the most cap space available this off season due to terminating contracts. The contracts that expired belonged to Rasheed Wallace, Allen Iverson, Antonio McDyess, and Walter Hermann.
Kwame Brown had a player option worth $4 million this season and wisely decided to take it. His value on the open market would not be anywhere near what he will earn this season.
As it stands, Kwame Brown is the only “bad” contract the Pistons are holding. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince still hold large contracts, roughly $20 million worth of the payroll belongs to them.
Prior to the draft the Pistons were involved in a three way trade that sent Amir Johnson to the Bucks in exchange for Fabricio Oberto. Oberto was then waved in a cap clearing move.
The Pistons had four draft picks but traded one of them away. The remaining players, Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers, and Jonas Jerebko. Chase Budinger was drafted and traded away for a future second round pick and cash.
All three remaining players are forwards, be it small or power forwards. Daye could turn into a center with some significant weight gain.
After the draft, the Pistons turned their attention to the free agency market. The market was set to open at midnight on July 1, 2009 and talks could begin at that time. Earlier in the day the Pistons made significant headlines when they fired first year coach Michael Curry. The firing was met with mixed reviews and much speculation about candidates for the job. No coach was named immediately and they entered free agency without a coach.
After Milwaukee failed to make a qualifying offer to power forward Charlie Villenueva, which came as a surprise, he became a free agent and quickly moved to the top of the list along with Chicago Bull’s shooting guard Ben Gordon. Both player visited Detroit and walked out with verbal agreements.
The players will be officially signed on July 08, 2009 and the salary for Gordon looks to be in the $11 million per year range with slight raises each year, while the salary for Villenueva is expected to be around $7 million per year with slight raises each year. It is reported that they each agreed to 5 year deals.
The Pistons now have a crowd at the guard position. It is widely anticipated that Joe Dumars will look to move Richard Hamilton in exchange for a center. The Pistons have many options. Trade exceptions would allow the Pistons to trade Hamilton for a larger salary to acquire a top caliber big post presence. Hamilton still has solid value, scoring nearly 19 points per game despite reduced minutes. He is a difficult defensive assignment as well and his movement creates opportunity for other players offensively.
Some of the current rumors include Tyson Chandler, a center for the New Orleans Hornets, and Carlos Boozer, a power forward from the Jazz. Chandler is the more likely candidate to be shopped but the emergence of Paul Millsap, in Boozers’ absence, have made it more possible that his expiring contract is expendable. Amare Stoudemire and David Lee are still options as well. Stoudemire would cause Detroit to go over the cap but the trade exception would allow it. David Lee would have to be part of a sign and trade with the Knicks. It would be a difficult move for the Pistons to pull off because New York is looking for (CONTINUED FROM BLEACHER REPORT) expiring contracts and cap room in 2010. Richard Hamilton’s contract may be more than the Knicks wish to take on.
A more likely scenario for a trade would involve an expiring contract, in the Pistons case it would be Kwame Brown. One persistent rumor is that the Utah Jazz are looking to trade Carlos Boozer, whose name has been linked with the Pistons all off season, in exchange for Richard Hamilton. This trade is highly unlikely. The trade of Boozer would be to relieve cap space and move Utah out of the luxury tax. The Jazz would need to clear around $9 million, in my estimation, in order to sign Millsap and avoid the luxury tax.
A three way deal is the only way a trade for Boozer seems likely. The Jazz need a solid player with a low salary, the Pistons get Boozer, and another team gets Richard Hamilton. That’s the only realistic scenario that I see fitting.
David Lee is a similar situation. A sign and trade offer may only net the Knicks draft picks or a modest player with a small contract. Jason Maxiell, Arron Aflalo, or Will Bynum are possible offerings as is future draft picks.Kwame Brown’s expiring contract is possible but not likely. He does not fit what the Knicks are trying to do. Jason Maxiell makes the most sense here.
The salary cap affects everyone. The Pistons have some money to work with in a trade. They are most likely to use up the cap space they have by signing a free agent or by making a trade of Richard Hamilton to a comparable or larger contract forward.
Tyson Chandler is probably the most likely candidate. He makes almost the same as Hamilton and is always on the trading block it seems.
The coaching vacancy seems to be Avery Johnson’s to lose. Joe was said to be meeting with him over the weekend and many expect an announcement soon that he is the next coach. If he does not take the job then things get very interesting. The list of available coaches is less than impressive this year.
As it stands the Detroit Pistons opening day roster looks something like this:
PG Rodney Stuckey
SG Ben Gordon
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Charlie Villenueva
C Kwame Brown
PG Will Bynum
SG Richard Hamilton
SG Arron Aflalo
F Austin Daye
F DaJuan Summers
F Jonas Jerebko
F Jason Maxiell
F Walter Sharpe
One other thing to consider, if the Pistons trade Hamilton for an expiring contract they should have lots of money available to sign a top free agent next season.