Much has happened since the last Detroit Pistons mailbag.
The NBA has concrete plans to resume the season in Orlando. Those plans do not include the Pistons, who will stay home. The Pistons are looking for a new general manager. They’re looking for a new assistant GM, too.
Yet questions remain. The offseason won’t begin for months. We won’t know where their lottery pick falls until August. And of course, hires need to be made.
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We got a lot of good questions in this week’s mailbag. Big thanks to everyone who submitted one.
I wrote a story on the GM search on Monday, so I’ll keep this one short. Troy Weaver, a well-respected assistant GM for the Thunder, is the favorite for the job. Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes and Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson are also finalists, but Weaver has been coveted by the Pistons since the current regime took over in 2018. It seems likely that one of the three will be hired by the end of the month.
Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony shakes hands with his former coach and Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver before the game at the Pepsi Center on Oct. 19, 2010, in Denver. (Photo: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE, US PRESSWIRE)
I won’t place odds on the likelihood that Chauncey Billups or Tayshaun Prince are hired. But between the two, Prince’s odds are probably greater. Unlike Billups, Prince has front-office experience. He’s quickly risen in the Memphis Grizzlies’ front office within the last three years, and he’s on Detroit’s list of potential candidates. The Pistons are not opposed to a reunion with Billups, but in the past, Billups has only expressed interest in being hired as a general manager.
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It partially depends on where the pick falls. This is expected to be a weak draft, so if the Pistons fall to eighth, despite having the fifth-best odds, maybe it would make sense to move the pick if the right deal comes along.
The Pistons are ready to rebuild, though, and trading the pick wouldn’t fit a rebuild unless they’re getting a good, future-minded package in return. I think the chances of the Pistons trading up or down within this draft are greater than them trading completely out of it. But this largely comes down to the outcome of the lottery and how other teams value the pick.
I don’t think the Pistons should make draft decisions this year based on the 2021 draft.
Next year’s draft is expected to be stronger. Cunningham and Green appear to be the top two prospects in their class and could be generational talents. Suggs is projected to be a lottery pick. But we don’t know how they’ll look against college or G League competition.
We also don’t know if Detroit will be in position to draft them. As it stands now, they’ll need a top-three pick to have a shot at one of them. Even if the Pistons finish with the worst record in the NBA next season, that would still come with a 60% chance of falling out of the top three.
If the best available player on Detroit’s 2020 draft board is a point guard, they should take a point guard. If they’re lucky enough to land a high pick in 2021 and the best-available player is also a point guard, then that’s a good problem to have and something they’ll have to figure out. But they shouldn’t pass on a player they believe in this year because they might get a better player next year. The Pistons need talent, period.
This idea got surprising traction on social media, but unfortunately I don’t think would fit my job description.
My general goals this offseason would be the following:
Retain Christian Wood. If the Pistons get him for less than $10 million, or whatever the NBA’s average salary is, that would be perfect. Detroit has Wood’s Early Bird Rights, meaning that if he’s signed to a contract worth less than the league’s average salary, his cap hit would be minimal. But even if he goes above that figure and his full salary counts against the cap, Detroit should bring him back. My limit? I’d go up to an average of $15 million per year over four years.
Detroit Pistons’ Christian Wood drives past Denver Nuggets’ Will Barton on Feb. 25, 2020, in Denver. (Photo: David Zalubowski, AP)
Trade Derrick Rose. This would obviously depend on the market for him, but an argument can be made that his value will never be higher than it is now. This decision could hinge on whether the Pistons sign a veteran point guard. Rose was a good influence last season, and it could be even more beneficial to have his guidance if the Pistons draft a point guard.
Sign Anthony Davis after he declines his player option with the Lakers. One can hope, right?
All things considered, I’m doing OK. Thank you for asking. My family and friends are healthy, and that’s what’s most important right now.
The day I accepted the offer to cover the Pistons ended up being the same day the NBA suspended the season, so my first two-ish months have been much different compared to what I expected. It’s odd to think that I could be a year into the job before stepping foot inside of Little Caesars Arena to cover a game for the Free Press. But the transition has gone smoothly, and I’m thankful for that.
But it’s been incredible to see that, in the midst of an international pandemic, thousands of people across the world have mustered the courage to put on mask and protest. Through one lens, it’s good that sports had to take a break. People are now being forced to pay attention.
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