The Detroit Pistons are in the market for just about everything this coming offseason, and Aron Baynes is a bargain piece they should target in free agency.
The Detroit Pistons are in the market for pretty much everything you can ask for in the coming offseason. They need talented and capable ball-handlers, reliable defenders, scorers, finishers and rim protectors, and maybe somebody who can do more than one of these things.
Plenty of these qualifications will be expensive big-ticket free agents, and the Pistons probably aren’t trying to take any home run swings in free agency this year. Or next year. Whenever free agency is for the 2020-21 offseason.
One free-agent-to-be who checks off one of these boxes, (as well as solid volume 3-point shooting) is Aron Baynes, and he would make a wonderful target for the Pistons in free agency.
Baynes is no stranger to Detroit Basketball. He had a two-year stint between 2015 and 2017 as a then-controversial early signing of the Stan Van Gundy administration and averaged 5.6 and 4.5 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game as a Piston.
In his time in the Motor City, he was primarily used as a prototypical backup big man, used with little more imagination than just as a warm body in relief of Andre Drummond when he went to the bench. After he left Detroit in free agency for the Boston Celtics, he experienced a reinvention the likes of which then-31-year-old career backup centers generally never do.
Aron Baynes’ late-career renaissance
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens embraced Baynes’ solid defensive capabilities but empowered him to take his game to the perimeter. While Van Gundy would have surely blanched at the idea of Baynes shooting threes (he shot two in Detroit, and without going back to check the film we can assume they were late-clock desperation shots), Stevens welcomed it.
In his first season with the Celtics, Baynes went 3-for-21. While that might have been enough for most coaches to cancel the experiment, he doubled down and Baynes shot 21-of-61 in his second season in Boston. After getting traded to the Phoenix Suns, head coach Monty Williams decided to triple and quadruple down on what Stevens started.
During the 2019-20 season in Phoenix, Aron Baynes shot 59-of-168 from 3-point range, a career-best 35.1 percent clip. 44.1 percent of his field goal attempts came from behind the arc, and his presence suddenly became something that NBA defenses had to bear in mind in the half-court.
As for the Detroit Pistons going into 2020-21, not much is known about what the rotation will look like. Blake Griffin is certain to be in town, and signing Justin Patton was just about the first thing new general manager Troy Weaver did after joining the Pistons. Christian Wood is a free agent but the Pistons are sure to do what it takes (within reason) to bring him back next season.
Thon Maker is also a free agent, and time will tell what the Pistons plan to do with him in the offseason.
Baynes is probably the best defender of this group right off the bat, and going into his age-34 season during a pandemic and the ensuing financial hardships, the price will likely not be unaffordable for a team like the Pistons with some money to spend. It’s not the sexiest thing the Detroit Pistons can buy this offseason, but Aron Baynes should absolutely be a target in free agency.