I went to bed early on Day 1 of the NBA Free Agency. Rookie mistake, sorry. I had a good reason you would never know.
But when I went to bed, the Pistons had just finished bringing Josh Jackson home. They hadn’t dealt a stack to Jeremy Grant yet, they hadn’t put in Delon Wright to back up, they hadn’t activated every Detroit Pistons fan with Josh Smith’s flashbacks, and they were still using Stretch Provision.
However, falling asleep when I did, strangely helps me put the whole list in context this morning. Although the individual movements extend beyond the intestinal reaction, the whole thing is not as bad as some of the reactions I read this morning made me believe.
This team looks a lot different than we all thought they would. Overall, however, these important points for building lists are still quite true:
This list is not of playoff quality
This is the most important. This list is not good enough to make the playoffs, even in the Eastern Conference (which, a warning to spoilers, will be tighter this year), even if we return completely healthy, the caliber of all NBA Blake Griffin.
Blake Griffin could be as good as he was in 201
If this is not a playoff team – and it is not – then this is a lottery team. And the lottery is more forgiving to “winners” than it once was. I will remind everyone (again) that the first two selections in the NBA draft for 2019 are New Orleans (out of season with 33 wins) and Memphis (out of season with 33 wins). The Charlotte Hornets had about 35 wins last season and were awarded the top 3 in the lottery (And with that choice in the top 3, they got the player most people said was the best talent in the project).
Teams have much less incentive to build a roster designed to win 19 games, so the Pistons didn’t. Troy Weaver said he would not preside over the recovery and although I think he could have escaped the fans’ appetite, he did not.
This list is full of marketable assets
The list is full of various types of assets, most of which are movable as individual figures.
Are you trying to trade a lot of salary? The pistons are Blake Griffin and Jeremy Grant. (My big Jerami Grant Take is that if the Western Conference finalist Denver Nuggets was willing to offer him the same deal as Detroit – which was reported by members of the Denver media – then maybe he’s not as overpaid as everyone thinks.)
Are you trying to make a medium deal? What about Delon Wright? How about Mason Plumlee? What about Derrick Rose? How about any of these guys plus Zanan Musa to get in the $ 12 million range? All of these players make similar money over a period of years, I’m sure Detroit has something you’ll like.
Just want a little cheap refill? The pistons have Josh Jackson and Jahlil Okafor at the veteran minimum. Tony Bradley makes less than $ 4 million and was / is a very useful backup center.
It used to be difficult for pistons to make deals because they paid boys like Reggie Jackson more than anyone else wanted. The teams couldn’t take Reggie Jackson’s cheap pilot because you had to invest about $ 15 million in the trade to get it. Now, if you want to make a deal with Detroit, they have the flexibility to offer you good contract values.
This list is well built for life after Blake
Some true claims: Blake Griffin owes $ 74 million over the next two years. He plays the same position as the last signing of a great free agent of the Pistons and their selection for the first round in 2019. The last time we saw Blake Griffin after a long recovery from injury, he was a star player and in the NBA.
These statements lead many of us, myself included, to believe that Blake Griffin will not be a pusher forever. And if you wave a magic wand and turn Blake Griffin into an unusable pile of contracts and motives, rotation without him makes a ton more sense:
|Position||Point Guard||Shooting guard||Small forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Starter||Derrick Rose||All Mykhailiuk||Save Dumboy||Jeremy Grant||Mason Plumi|
|Bench||Killian Hayes||Delon Wright||Josh Jackson||Sadik Bay||Tony Bradley|
|Depth||Delon Wright||Zanan Musa||Sadik Bay||Jahlil Okafor|
(You trade with Derrick Rose and things get even clearer, but I think that’s less likely right now.)
Blake Griffin is the most talented player on the Detroit Pistons list. His presence is the only thing that makes people think that this team is something remote that is close to the competition. Finding a place for Blake (who can just “wait until the teams see him healthy”) is the last piece of the puzzle. Replace it with an extra salary and a first-round pick, and the image most fans had in their heads of a Pistons recovering team snapped into place.
This team needs to defend, play hard and move in transition (when the kids play), but be talented most nights. They have precious few sources of consistent shooting, even if you think Saddiq Bey will enter the league with a 38% three-point shooter. They added another shot, but most of that addition came from the Chief Defender.
In the end, Troy Weaver said he would build a team that would compete every night, and he has done so far. This is not the same as building a team that will win every night, which the Pistons definitely are not.