September 24, 2022

Miles Bridges checks a lot of boxes. Originally from Flint, Michigan, former star player at Michigan State, oh, and he’s really good at basketball.

The 24-year-old forward is also entering restricted free agency, and it’s no surprise some Detroit Pistons fans are salivating at the thought of Bridges joining their favorite team.

But would Charlotte really let Bridges, who is coming off a stellar season averaging 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3.8 assists, go? That remains to be seen, but reports indicate the Hornets may not be willing to give him a max contract.

Ok, so there’s a big difference between “not currently offering a max contract” and “don’t want to offer a max contract”.

As a restricted free agent, the Hornets have the right of first refusal when it comes to bridges. That is, if the Hornets offer Bridges a max contract now, they will only have bid against themselves. Instead, the Hornets are comfortable making what they think is a competitive offer and seeing if Bridges can bring a bigger deal to another team’s table.

The only risk the Hornets run in deploying this strategy is upsetting Bridges, but a good thing for hurt feelings is the balm of a contract worth more than $120 million.

Still, it’s somewhat interesting that the Hornets haven’t come up with a maximum offer yet. It could be a sign that the team doesn’t think he’s a maximum player, or it could be a sign of a relationship that’s already souring. Although there hasn’t been much news on that front, Bridges has removed “Charlotte Hornets” from her bio on Twitter. Maybe that means something. Maybe not.

Either way, where Bridges plays next season will ultimately come down to Charlotte. If he manages to get a better offer from another team and the Hornets don’t match, Charlotte loses him for nothing. I don’t see that as an acceptable outcome for Charlotte, but stranger things have happened, and if the team really doesn’t think he’s a max player, there may be more buyer’s remorse than if he had decided to let him walk. .

So let’s say Bridges gets a better offer and the Hornets aren’t willing to match. Would it make sense for the Pistons to be the team making this offer?

There’s been a lot of good PR for the Pistons this offseason. They clinched guard with arguably the highest upside in the draft in Jaden Ivey, and they also added one of the most athletic big men in Jalen Duren.

Ivey also has strong ties to Detroit, with his mother, father, and grandfather all having played sports in Detroit.

Adding another local star to the fold would accentuate an already encouraging offseason.

As good as Bridges is, his place in the current squad isn’t ideal.

As Sean Corp tweeted yesterday, the Bridges game is all about getting painting and drawing fouls. Bridges had nearly six threes per game last season and knocked down just 33.1% of his attempts.

In a rotation that relies heavily on Isaiah Stewart, Duren, Ivey and Killian Hayes, there aren’t many shooters to capitalize on the explosive skills this team suddenly has in abundance.

On the other hand, there are a lot of question marks in the aforementioned roster. We don’t yet know what the Pistons have in rookies, and Hayes as a viable NBA player is still very moot as he enters the third year of his career.

Should the Pistons really bet on these players to grow when there’s a guy with obvious Detroit ties who is already the best player in the NBA? Who knows if any of these guys fit Bridges’ production.

Pay decks or bet on your young core – it’s a risk anyway. That said, facing Bridges is a gamble that will cost the Pistons north $100 million.

Currently, it’s hard to see Charlotte letting Bridges go without getting anything in return. The Pistons are unlikely to be ready to make a maximum or near-maximum deal for Bridges, and his fit with Detroit’s key players isn’t great.

If the Pistons were chasing Bridges, I wouldn’t blame them — sometimes you grab talent and sort out the rest later. It would also be hard not to get excited about adding a player of his potential. At 24, he may just be scratching the surface. I’m just not sure that’s the best move for the Pistons, and I think Detroit might be better off seeing what they have with their current core and spreading some of their money around veterans who better complement their current core.

What do you think?