Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Look at the Pistons' Free Agent Options

Photo from Getty Images

Detroit Pistons beat writer A. Sherrod Blakely recently posted an article examining some of the potential free agent signees for the Pistons. Detroit is essentially going into the free agent market armed only with the $5.36 million mid-level exception, which they can use either on one player or split it among multiple players. In my opinion, this would be the year for Joe Dumars to try to sign an impact player with the MLE. Going into the free agency period, only three teams (Memphis, Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles Clippers) had enough cap space to sign an elite free agent, and the Clippers have already used their cap space to sign PG Baron Davis. This leaves several free agents who are essentially forced to sign for the mid-level or re-sign with their current team, so the quality of players available at a cheap price is greater this year than most years. Here is my take on the players Blakely brought up in his article, plus a couple others that have been mentioned as possible Piston targets:

G/F James Posey - The versatile swingman is one of the hottest names on the market this year after playing an important role in the Boston Celtics' championship run. He is a great perimeter defender who can spread the defense with his ability to knock down the open three. However, he will be 32 next season, and his solid postseason for the Celtics has ensured that he will demand a multi-year deal starting around the MLE. At his age, he may not be worth committing that much money for that long, and it is unlikely that the Pistons would attempt to outbid the Celtics for his services anyway. Unless Detroit can somehow lock him into a short-term deal, I'd prefer they stay away from him.

G/F Michael Finley - Detroit made a run at Finley before he ultimately signed with San Antonio in 2006. He is very much in the mold of Posey, a good shooter who can defend both guards and forwards. He is also going to be 35 next season, and his skills have been on the decline ever since he signed with the Spurs. Dumars probably won't pursue him unless he strikes out on younger, more productive free agents first.

F James Jones - Jones is somewhat of an enigma, a 6'8", 225 pound forward who spends all his time on the perimeter. He is a career .399 three point shooter, and shot an impressive .444 last season for Portland. However, more than half of his career shots have come from outside the arc, and he actually made a higher percentage of his threes than his two-point attempts last season. He would be a serviceable replacement for the departed Jarvis Hayes, but I think Detroit could do better.

G Ricky Davis - I have no idea where Blakely got this name from, or whether he was just speculating, but I really hope Detroit has no interest in Davis. This is a guy who once took a shot at his own basket so he could get a rebound for a triple-double. Davis is one of the most talented guys on the market, but the ultimate me-first player doesn't fit in with the Pistons team philosophy. Pass.

G/F Josh Childress - Getting the 26 year-old Childress could prove difficult, since he is a restricted free agent and Atlanta has the right to match any offer he receives. If the Pistons can pry him away from the Hawks, however, it would be a major coup for Joe Dumars. Childress is a very efficient offensive player, finishing sixth in the NBA last year with a .571 field goal percentage. He is also a very good offensive rebounder and a solid perimeter defender. I would be very happy to have Childress backing up Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, and Detroit should make every effort to sign him.

G/F Mickael Pietrus - Once billed as the "French Jordan", Pietrus has had a hard time cracking Don Nelson's lineup with Golden State. At 26, he is still young, but he is running out of time to develop a refined skill game. He is incredibly athletic, and can knock down threes, but he cannot create for himself off the dribble. If Pietrus can play within himself, I wouldn't mind seeing him in a Piston uniform, as his athleticism and ability to finish in transition would both be huge assets to Detroit off the bench.

F Corey Maggette - By far the most intriguing player on this list, Maggette appears to be the odd man out on the Clippers after they signed Davis. He averaged 22.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last year, and is great at creating his own shot on the drive. Detroit has sorely lacked a player who can create for himself with any consistency, and Maggette is one of the league's best at getting to the basket, where he can either finish or get to the line. Maggette has expressed interest in getting to a team with a legitimate shot at a title, and the Celtics, Spurs, Cavaliers and Magic have all been rumored to have interest in signing him. There will be no bidding war, since all these teams can offer is the MLE, so it appears Maggette will choose whichever team can offer him the best combination of playing time and championship potential. If Detroit can sign Maggette, they will, and it would immediately vault them to the forefront of the championship picture.

Update: Two other names that have popped up on the Pistons' rader (you may recognize one of them):

G C.J. Miles - Miles is the youngest player the Pistons are considering, a 20 year-old shooting guard who jumped to the NBA straight out of high school. He is a good three point shooter (.390 in limited action last year), and at his age he has the potential to grow into a solid rotation player. However, it is hard to imagine him contributing too much next year, and I would like to see the Pistons grab a players who can help win a title right away.

G Carlos Delfino - According to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, the Pistons have shown interest in potentially bringing back the Argentinian swingman who backed up Prince for three seasons before spending last year in Toronto. He is a restricted free agent, but Toronto has a surplus of guards and would probably not match an offer. The question, then, is whether or not the Pistons should take him back. Although he set career highs in pretty much every offensive category last season, Delfino is still limited by his poor shooting. Although he shot .382 from three, he only had a .397 field goal percentage. He is a solid defender and a decent deep shooter, but I would be wary of bringing him back over Jones, Pietrus, Childress, or obviously Maggette.

Pistons' Dumars plans to be careful in free agency (MLive)
Pistons, Cavs Latest Teams Rumored to Have Interest in Corey Maggette (AOL Fanhouse)
Pistons consider a Carlos Delfino return (Detroit Free Press)

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