It’s the sort of thing that you would expect to happen to Detroit. The Pistons entered into last night’s Draft lottery with an 82.4 percent chance of keeping their pick, but the ping-pong balls bounced against them. Joe Dumars may now have left the organization, but this was one of his many poor decisions, still lingering, coming back to bite the Pistons new Head Coach/President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy.
The Pistons owed Charlotte a pick as part of the Ben Gordon and Corey Maggette deal from 2012. In a desperate attempt to offload the colossal contract that he personally signed Gordon to, Joe Dumars traded Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Corey Maggette and his expiring deal. Although, that sounds very prudent, the problem comes with the sweetener of first round picks that Dumars offered to seal the deal.
The New York Knicks are often goaded for the manner in which they trade away draft picks as if they are oblivious to their value, but in this case, Detroit fall into that same bracket. Dumars bundled Gordon with a first round pick that was lottery protected last year, top eight protected this year, and top one protected next year. When the Cleveland Cavaliers jumped into the top three last night, pushing the Pistons to the ninth spot, the pick became Charlotte’s on their first official day back under the Hornets name.
This can only be seen as a colossal blow to a team in desperate need of reconstruction. Based on that 82.4 percent chance, there’s no doubt than Van Gundy would already have had certain team needs, and even players in mind to help bolster his roster. Instead Van Gundy’s attention now must turn to free agency. With the contracts of Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva and Greg Monroe having expired, Detroit do have some cap space this summer, but they also have big decisions to make.
Van Gundy has hinted that he wants to re-sign Greg Monroe, but that won’t be as straight forward as it sounds. Monroe is likely due a nice pay day, as a solid and proven young big man, and that complicates the decision making process considerably. With the Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Monroe front court experiment failing to work last season, do the Pistons want to commit to it into the future?
The obvious move would be to trade away Josh Smith, and keep the two younger players on cheaper contracts. Smith’s stock is currently at it’s lowest point in years though, and his contract is by far the least appealing on the Pistons squad. Very little is known at this stage about how Van Gundy views this log jam, but it would seem clear that the Pistons are in need of scoring wing players.
Over the coming couple of months, expect to hear the names of Gordon Hayward, Lance Stephenson and Eric Bledsoe linked with the Pistons. The chances of Detroit having the funds to compete for these players will depend on whether they re-sign Monroe though. If that turns out to be Van Gundy’s plan, he may have to get creative in the trade market.
What’s clear now, and will probably grow clearer as the summer progresses, is just how much the Pistons could have done with that pick at this point in time. Many people have referred to this as being a seven man Draft class, remarking that there was no franchise changer going to be on the board for Detroit at the ninth spot anyway, but considering that Andre Drummond was a ninth pick only two years ago, that’s hard to buy into.
Van Gundy has had his first taste of the ineptitudes that have damaged the Pistons franchise since their title win in 2004, and my bet would be that he will ensure to take a different path in building his team.
Tags: Detroit Pistons