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NBA Insider Lends Insight Into Pistons’ Offseason Plans

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, potential Detroit Pistons offseason target

While the Detroit Pistons are projected to have more spending power than any team in the NBA this offseason with $60.5 million in cap space, don’t expect them to approach the upcoming free agency period dead set on using it all.

Per HoopsHype insider Michael Scotto, “Plan A is not to go the Houston route and spend all the cap space money they have in free agency.”

Pistons Avoiding Rockets’ Route

Entering the offseason with about $70 in cap space, the Houston Rockets signed veterans Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks to hefty contracts, expecting their veteran savvy and defensive reputation to lead them into playoff contention. After winning 42 games combined the previous two seasons, Houston was frankly desperate heading into free agency. Nonetheless, they did target players with a great on-court reputation and who fit their team needs, including Brook Lopez.

The Rockets won 41 games last season, a 19-game increase from their 2022-23 campaign. However, while VanVleet and Brooks certainly helped them win games, the largest factor in their success was 2024 Most Improved Player finalist, Alperen Sengun. Towards the end of the season, third-year guard Jalen Green was the driving force in their string finish.

VanVleet, never known for his overall efficiency, had the lowest field goal percentage in the rotation (.416). Brought in to stabilize their halfcourt offense, he was more of a game manager than playmaker. This wasn’t necessarily a problem but for $40.8 million —his salary in 2023-24 —it’s not ideal.

Brooks started the season particularly well, though there was some redundancy between him and second-year forward Tari Eason. However, after shooting a sparkling 39.9 percent from 3 heading into the All-Star Break, he made just 29.6 percent of his 3s after it. Signing a four-year, $86 million contract with the Rockets, he hasn’t met expectations either.

Though the Rockets finished the season with at least a .500 record for the first time since 2019-2o, they missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year. That was another disappointment for Houston, especially as they had to overcome nearly insurmountable odds just to sniff a chance at the postseason.

The Pistons Are Worse Off

The Pistons are in a similarly desperate situation.

Detroit has won fewer than 24 games for five consecutive seasons. Even worse, they’re coming off the worst season in franchise history with a 14-68 record. Yet like the Rockets, the Pistons have several promising young players, namely 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.

However, they’ve put themselves in a worse position than they should be in as their core doesn’t fit together properly.

Cunningham and 2022 No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey are an even worse backcourt fit than Atlanta Hawks guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, who will almost certainly be broken up this offseason. Two lead guards with streaky shooting and questionable defense, they play better apart than do together.

Ausar Thompson and Jalen Duren step on each other’s toes, both needing to occupy the dunker’s spot to be at their best. Thompson, a potential point-forward down the line, has his talent further undermined by the Pistons’ need to put the ball in Cunningham and Ivey’s hands.

In an effort to rectify at least part of this issue, “there’s a possibility Detroit will look to sign a free agent like Tobias Harris or Miles Bridges, two guys that will certainly be on their radar heading into the offseason…”

Signing either forward could mean Ivey or Thompson heading to the bench. Ivey, a more potent scorer than Thompson, is the more likely candidate. Thompson’s backcourt defense also gives him the edge over Ivey.

Trade on the Horizon?

After the Pistons go after Harris or Bridges, Scotto says that Detroit could “then use the remaining cap space to potentially acquire a player in a trade.”

Detroit could use said cap space to absorb contracts that teams could be keen to be rid of. If so, Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela to Portland Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon are possibilities.

Last offseason, the Hawks were willing to move Capela in a salary dump. Though the soon-to-be 30-year-old seems to have lost a step athletic, he’s still a more reliable shot-blocker than Duren. Though injury-prone, Brogdon has made 39.1 percent of his 3s over the course of his career at 6-foot-4 and nearly 230 pounds. He’s also a respectable perimeter defender when healthy due to his anticipation, footwork, and toughness.

The acquisition of Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine remains a possibility, as the Bulls are still trying to move him.

A natural jump shooter than figures to play off of Cunningham better than Ivey could, there’s a simple reason for making the deal. Yet, as it’s a move that will likely require the Pistons to part with a young piece, there’s not a high probability of Detroit getting the All-Star wing. Especially considering LaVine’s injury history, poor perimeter defense, and age (29).

The Last Word on the Pistons Offseason Plans

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby should be their top offseason target. If the Knicks don’t want to pay what’s sure to be a high price for Anunoby, they should be able to acquire the 3-and-D wing in a sign-and-trade. Just 26 years old, Anunoby fits the Pistons’ timeline as perfectly as their needs.

Since 2020, Anunoby’s averaged 14.8 points and 1.5 steals per game, shooting 38.3 percent from 3. A lockdown perimeter defender, the only concern with signing him is that he’s played 50 or fewer games in three of the last four seasons.


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