NEW YORK — The Pistons beat the Knicks by 22 points on the final night of the regular season, but with only ping pong balls in play for what essentially was little more than an exhibition contest, talk of what may become of Detroit’s roster in the future dominated the pregame conversation.
Greg Monroe and Reggie Jackson are the team’s two most prominent free agents, and Stan Van Gundy, who has the title of president in addition to the one he holds as head coach, says he’d like to see both of them return next season — if the price is right.
“We want Greg back, we want Reggie back,” Van Gundy said during his customary pregame availability session. “Again, they all have decisions to make in the whole thing. Our decision process will obviously be what to offer and all of that, but we want those guys back. And then we’ve got to talk about all of our other guys, too.”
Technically, only Monroe has the ability to leave without any organizational interference. He played out this season on a one-year deal specifically to secure that right, after being unable to come to terms on a long-term deal as a restricted free agent last summer.
Jackson, though — who was acquired from the Thunder at the trade deadline — is in the same situation Monroe was a season ago. If the Pistons truly want him back, they can make that happen by simply matching any offer he receives.
But as Van Gundy intimated, it won’t be that simple.
“We would like to bring back guys and have some continuity, but part of it will come down to budget — I don’t mean for this year, but going forward. How much money do you want to lock in now compared to what you need to add to the roster, what’s best, all of that. A lot of considerations.”
Van Gundy praised the way Monroe has handled his situation all season long, and truly believes he hasn’t yet given his future very much thought. He pointed out that even if the two sides were ready to sit down and negotiate, they couldn’t, because the NBA prohibits all free agents from negotiating new deals before July 1.
But the Pistons have some thinking to do before then, in terms of sorting out exactly how they want to build their team moving forward, and how much future salary cap space they want to potentially tie up by signing two very good players. With their season officially over, Van Gundy is prepared to take on that challenge.
“I think (general manager) Jeff Bower and our assistant GMs are ready to have that discussion, so I’ll get involved with that in the next couple of weeks, actually,” he said.