After months of rumors and speculation, the NBA’s free agency period kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. ET. While the trading frenzy has yet to begin, Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver hasn’t let that stop him from rolling and trading in the trade market. In the space of a week, Weaver has already made big changes to the clubhouse, introducing five (six including Gabriele Procida) new faces to the Motor City via the draft and trades.
Just a few days ago, Detroit had by far the biggest cap space in the league, but following a slew of deals, the front office will enter Free Agency armed with an estimate. $22.9 million.
Last night, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer and NBA Insider Mark Stein dropped some nuggets of information regarding the Pistons on the NBA Free Agency Day broadcast via Spotify Live. Before we jump into the Detroit-related player rumours, I thought it worth noting that Fischer had this to say in an interesting way; “[the] The Pistons will try to push themselves into the play-in tournament next year” – take what you like from that statement.
Victor Oladipo will choose Detroit or Washington
Following a number of unfortunate injuries, Oladipo is not the explosive combo that burst onto the scene in 2013. Over the past two years, the 30-year-old has struggled to adjust to life as a rotation player. However, upon his return from injury in March, Oladipo seemed to be finding his way averaging 12.4 points in 21 minutes per night. Perhaps the most surprising element of his comeback was his new long shot, connecting on an impressive 41.7% outside looks.
In his most recent article for Bleacher Report, Fischer had this excerpt regarding Oladipo’s connection to Motor City:
Victor Oladipo is not expected to return to the Heat and reportedly has interests from Washington, Denver and Detroit, within the MLE taxpayer’s salary range.
He later added on the NBA Free Agency Day show that the race for Oladipo’s services was “in Detroit and Washington for Victor Oladipo.” However, from what Fischer has heard, wizards are currently the preferred destination. By adding Oladipo, Detroit would continue its quest to surround the young core with savvy veterans. From a rotation perspective, it becomes hard to imagine all three of Cunningham, Hayes and Ivey playing major minutes with Alec Burks and Oladipo on the roster. But, I’m at the point where I’m going to worry about predicting player minutes at the end of July.
Pistons are Payton II favorites if he doesn’t return to Warriors
After spending years on the fringes of the NBA, Gary Payton II finally found his calling with NBA champion Golden State Warriors. With the Warriors, the Washington native’s strengths on defense were amplified, while Curry and Thompson’s shooting gravity helped mitigate his weaknesses as a jump shooter.
Like his father, Payton II is one of the best in the league at locking up opposing ball handlers. The 29-year-old is equally effective as an off-ball disrupter, averaging 1.8 interceptions in just 18 minutes of action per night.
Fischer detailed in his post yesterday:
Golden State hopes to retain Gary Payton II, sources said, but a suitor who offers the full middle tier could release him.
Additional addition to the NBA Free Agency Day show:
If the numbers are close, he will return to the Warriors… Detroit and Charlotte are teams to watch”
While the Warriors certainly aren’t shy about splashing the cash, it looks like Detroit could upset the defensive star with a multi-year offer of around $8-10 million a year. Like Oladipo, it’s hard to imagine a world where Dwane Casey is able to provide rotation minutes for all of Cunningham, Ivey, Hayes and Payton II. However, it certainly helps to bring a guy with championship experience to Detroit’s young roster.
Marvin Bagley III back in Detroit on multi-year deal
It seems almost certain that the big four-year-old, Marvin Bagley III, will return to the Pistons for the next two seasons. Somewhat surprisingly, there has been speculation that the Duke product will sign a contract worth north of $10 million annually. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wrote in his NBA Free-Agency Intel article:
Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III is set to return to Detroit on a deal north of $10 million in average annual value, potentially in a structure similar to Kelly Oubre Jr.’s two-year deal with Charlotte the last summer.
Arriving in Detroit after the trade deadline, Bagley was a bright spot for the Pistons. He formed a dynamic pick-and-roll combination with Cade Cunningham, averaging 14.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in a mostly reserve role. While the big man rotation is currently a mess, it’s nice to see Bagley III rewarded for his solid play with the team a season ago.