Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 Pistons roster situation

Graduate school has completed, so I'll finally be able to write (semi-)consistently here again. Apologies for the absence.
I've made a huge mistake

With the season finally over and the prospect of a lottery pick, the Pistons' 2014 depth chart comes in for some analysis. With a number of big contracts coming off the books, both free agency and the draft could see significant shifts in the team makeup. There are some edge cases on the roster (Billups, Jerebko) which I'll go into, but a preliminary 2014 depth chart should look something approximating this:

Brandon Jennings Kyle Singler Josh Smith Greg Monroe* Andre Drummond
Will Bynum KCP Luigi Datome Jonas Jerebko* Josh Harrellson
Peyton Siva Tony Mitchell
Chanucey Billups*

The big names that come off the books are Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, neither of which will re-sign with the team. Charlie V probably drops out of the league altogether and Stuckey will sign with someone looking for veteran bench scoring. The combined impact of their departures comes out to $17 million, which can be spent re-signing Greg Monroe, bringing in free agents, or some combination of the two.

With two open roster spots and potentially a first-round pick, the Pistons could bring in one free agent if all things hold this offseason Fortunately, there's probably more wiggle room here than on first blush.

Fringe cases
Greg Monroe. Monroe is a restricted free agent this summer, and all signs point to the Pistons matching any offer sheet he receives, meaning he'll be consuming about $15 million of the Pistons' cap room next season. I've been staunchly on the Trade Monroe bandwagon since the signing of Josh Smith, who pairs better with Drummond's skillset and who is a natural power forward, but the organization seems intent on keep Monroe for the time being. Rumblings are that the Pistons will try to shop Smith, though, who remains untradeable at this point. I have thoughts about Monroe's status with the team that I'll tackle in a later post, but for now, we'll leave him on the depth chart.

Chauncey Billups. Signing Billups was always a mistake. Signing him to a two-year deal was lunacy. After playing in only 19 games this season--and posting a 5.31 PER in his limited time--Billups' worst-case scenario came true. He has now played in only 71 games over the last three seasons and has proven that he can no longer play at an NBA level. All signs point to Billups retiring this offseason and taking a front-office job with the Pistons. This should give the Pistons another roster spot and an additional $2.5 million to play around with this offseason.

Jonas Jerebko. Of the three fringe cases, Jerebko is the most difficult to project. Holding a player option for $4.5 million for the upcoming season, some analysts believe he'll leave the team for more playing time elsewhere. Having watched Jerebko play, it seems more likely he takes the checks where he can get them and sticks around Detroit. If he does forego the final year of his contract, that affords the Pistons yet another roster spot and $4.5 million next season.


If all things go well this offseason (Billups retires and Jerebko turns down his option), the Pistons will have just over $35 million in committed contracts prior to re-signing Monroe. Further, the depth chart will shake out like this:

Brandon Jennings Kyle Singler Josh Smith Greg Monroe* Andre Drummond
Will Bynum KCP Luigi Datome Tony MitchellJosh Harrellson
Peyton Siva

Signing Monroe to a max deal (~$60 million over four years) would put the Pistons in a good position to sign a few free agents to help fill out the roster. With only $50 million in committed contracts and the NBA salary cap projected to be at $62.9 million (the luxury hold is projected at $75.7 million), bringing in two or three quality veterans is not unreasonable. Add in a lottery pick and the Pistons' young core could start approaching its potential.

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