The Pistons have two of the NBA’s most promising big men, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and they’ve cleared more than $20 million in cap space this summer. They’re definitely in position to make a jump to the playoffs, which is what general manager Joe Dumars probably needs in the final season of his contract, if all goes well.
But the plan hit a snag when so many of the top available free agents ended up being power forwards and centers.
The Pistons are pursuing Andre Iguodala, but it sounds like it will be difficult to outbid the Nuggets. Josh Smith can play small forward, and he’s reportedly Detroit’s top target, but he’s a better power forward. Otherwise, the many of the best remaining free agents – Dwight Howard (not going to Detroit, anyway), Andrew Bynum and Paul Millsap – won’t work with Drummond and Monroe.
So, rather than overpay middling perimeter players in free agency, the Pistons might try to trade for a, in the eyes of some, more prestigious guard or small forward. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
the Pistons were among the first teams to reach out to the Celtics and express interest in acquiring Rondo, the All-Star point guard who is coming off an ACL injury, league sources told CBSSports.com. Having already made lucrative pitches to free agents Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala, Pistons president Joe Dumars also has registered interest in Raptors forward Rudy Gay, one source said.
The Pistons could use their cap room to take one the Celtics’ bad contracts (Gerald Wallace and maybe Courtney Lee), so Detroit would have to give up fewer positive assets for Rondo. Still, Monroe would likely have to be involved for Boston to have interest, though trading Monroe wouldn’t be as detrimental if the Pistons sign Smith. Of course, that’s also predicated on Danny Ainge changing from his public stance of keeping Rondo.
Gay himself has negative value, and that trade just sounds like Dumars asking for trouble. The Pistons reportedly tried to get Gay before Toronto did, but with Masai Ujiri now running the Raptors, Gay could be on the block again. Gay might become the go-to wing scorer the Pistons think they need, but he’s inefficient and wildly overpaid.
There are no perfect options for Detroit this summer, and a more patient route would probably be ideal. But with Dumars’ job on the line, I doubt that happens.
The Pistons are clearly trying to upgrade their talent this offseason, and, for better or worse, Rondo and/or Gay would accomplish that.