Pistons

Detroit Will Never Forget About Dre

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After months of speculation, the Detroit Pistons accepted the market for franchise stalwart Andre Drummond.  Reports had circulated for a while that offers were few and far between.  Given the pending player option of $28.8 million and the overall undervaluing of centers in the league, this should not come as much surprise.  Still, many fans, including myself, were stunned that the following deal was accepted.

 

This reflects reported value of Drummond in the market dating back to when Atlanta offered a similar pupu platter in January.   Some sections of the fan base were fine with accepting anything that was offered just so the option was not declined and watch Drummond leave for nothing.  Knight and Henson are expiring dollars the Pistons will fill out the roster with.  Unfortunately, that second round pick does not convey until 2023 and is the lesser of Golden State and Cleveland’s second rounder that season.  Before figuring out where the Pistons go from here in a Drummond-less world and why the rest of the veterans are still on the roster, there is one burning question.  Why?

Figuring Out Why

Once moving past the emotional fan-based reaction, there is some sense to the move the Pistons made.  Before we get into explaining why, one thing needs to be debunked.  Anyone who claims Stefanski did not do his due diligence and just took what was available clearly was not paying attention.  Money matters and plenty of teams do not want to pay Andre Drummond roughly double the amount they would pay Clint Capela.  All reports indicate that the Pistons talked to Atlanta, Dallas, Toronto, Boston, Cleveland, New York and the LA Clippers at a minimum.

The Pistons have chosen a direction and that is the ultimate why.  As Ed Stefanski said the day after the trade deadline, it is time for a rebuild.  This was likely to be the case with all the injuries this year anyway.  Committing to a direction makes sense and is refreshing for a team that has tried to play it down the middle for a decade.  Bringing in contracts that you know are expiring will lead the Pistons to a projected $42 million in cap space this summer.  If Tony Snell and Markieff Morris turn down their player options to pursue winning elsewhere, that can jump to nearly $58 million.

This is not about who they are going to sign this summer.  The Pistons will be looking to take on bad contracts via trade with assets attached.  This signals that they are looking to build around the young core of Christian Wood (UFA this summer), Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Sekou Doumbouya and this year’s first round pick.  Watching what Memphis was able to do in just paying Andre Iguodola not to be there shows how this can work out in a perfect world.  It may be painful to watch, but the logic is there.

And Why Not Any Other Veterans

So if the Pistons are ready to start the youth movement, why not move on from their expiring veterans?  Well, the beat reporters got some answers out of Stefanski on that as well.  The picks just were not available.  It seems that the market was pretty cool on Langston Galloway and Markieff Morris.

Cooling off from his scorching start, Galloway has always been slightly underrated around the league, but his shooting could help any team.  There are indications that the Pistons may want to re-sign him this summer as a veteran presence, and this makes a lot of sense.  He is such a positive influence in the locker room and one skill valuable in a veteran on the court is shooting, as he can space the floor for the young guys as they figure it out.  Morris has dealt with various ailments this year, and his value likely suffered beyond that.

Reggie Jackson buyout rumors surfaced immediately after the deadline, so some may ask why there was no trade.  Making the salaries work on his expiring $15.6 million is the likely culprit.  Now the longest-tenured Piston did his best to debunk this after the first post trade deadline game, but it makes a lot of sense.  Teams like the Clippers are looking for point guard depth and he is close with Paul George.  Despite how much he has polarized the fan base, sending Jackson off to compete feels right for a guy who has never given less than 100 percent to this team.

The final veteran to mention is Tim Frazier, who struggled to find his footing with this team and was waived to make a needed roster spot.  His time in the Motor City was uneventful and we wish him luck wherever he lands next.

Never Forget About Dre

Andre Drummond never got what he deserved in Detroit, and it is a shame.  He played for the team for eight years and was polarizing throughout. The truth of the matter is Andre Drummond is the best rebounder of a generation.

He is a two-time all-star with hopefully more appearances in the future.  Drummond has already led the league in rebounds three times and is on his way to a fourth rebounding title.  He has improved every season despite the team failing to build around him in any successful manner.  After his rookie campaign he has never missed more than four games in a season.  To look at his stats correctly we will remove that season.  He has averaged a double-double every season.   His floor was 13.5 points per game and 13.2 rebounds per game.

His biggest failures are the team offering him a contract that other centers do not get.  Then, they struggled to put pieces around him.  Drummond is not a perfect player by any stretch.  While improved, he still shoots under 60% from the free throw line.  He lets emotions dictate his play too often, but emotions are tough to contain with only one winning season.  Drummond is the number one offensive rebounder in franchise history by more than 400, second in defensive and total rebounds.  He is fifth in career steals and third in career blocks.

Finally, he is the rare star-caliber player who truly wanted to play in Detroit.  He was proud of being a Piston and representing the city of Detroit.  Even if Detroit never fully embraced him, he embraced them.   Piston games will not feel the same without him raising the roof.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Moving on, the future for the Pistons is in a weird place.  Christian Wood will be the focal point of the rest of the season as he looks to earn a long-term contract.  Reports came out that contenders made offers for him, including Houston and Boston.  Detroit will look to sign him up to the contract he has earned, but the competition will be stiff.  In his first post-Drummond game, he showed exactly why the interest is there.  He posted a line of 27 points, 12 rebounds and five assists with 56% shooting from the floor.  Wood is a modern big man who can stretch to the three-point line.  He needs to develop defensively, but the potential is there.

Similarly, Thon Maker is looking to earn a new contract somewhere this offseason and will likely be starting for the Pistons for the rest of this year.  His time in the Motor City is probably counting down, but any flashes are fun to watch.  Coach Casey has made it clear he has not liked the consistent effort levels that Sekou Doumbouya, Louis King and Jordan Bone have shown and they will have to earn their minutes.  All three have varying amounts of potential, but their coach is making them earn it, which I am personally a fan of.  Casey knows how to develop young players well and he should be trusted to bring them along.

Getting Kennard and Mykhailiuk back healthy is important for the full-on youth movement.  A lineup of Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard, Svi Mykailiuk, Sekou Doumbouya and Christian Wood will be fun to watch even if it is not successful off the bat.  If the Pistons can jump in the lottery and add a top-tier talent, even in a weaker draft, the rebuild will be on full time.  Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin will provide veteran leadership as long as they remain on the team.  Lots of losses are on the horizon.  The Pistons are not currently selling that they are putting out a winning product.  They are selling hope.  Hope rings eternal with the young lineup mentioned above.

Personally, I hope that Andre Drummond gets out of Cleveland before long and latches on somewhere with a winner.  Andre Drummond deserves to get recognition on a winner.  The Big Penguin will always hold a fond place in my heart, one of the few good young guys on the team for a decade.

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About Corey Rausch

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