Andre Drummond is the Pistons’ franchise player.
Owner Tom Gores called the center a “max player” as soon as last season ended. President/coach Stan Van Gundy has consistently praised Drummond.
So, with Drummond eligible for a contract extension this offseason, the Pistons had one clear goal:
Convince Drummond NOT to sign an extension.
Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:
If this happened for the reasons they wanted, this is potentially a nice victory for the Pistons.
They can give Drummond a max contract in free agency that’s worth exactly as much as an extension would have paid, projected to be worth about $120 million.
The key difference: Drummond’s cap hold will be just $8,180,228 as a free agent. The Pistons can sign other free agents and then exceed the cap to re-sign him. If he’d signed a max extension now, his cap number would be his 2016-17 salary, projected to be nearly $21 million.
This will get the Pistons nearly $13 million more in cap space next summer.
Drummond is taking a risk, but I bet the Pistons promised him a max contract next summer.
The Pistons are taking a risk, too. Drummond could bolt sooner by not signing an extension. But the Pistons shouldn’t fear that too much.
Drummond will be a restricted free agent, allowing the Pistons to match any offer sheet. If they extend a maximum qualifying offer, he can’t sign an offer sheet for less than three seasons (not counting option years).
So, if the Pistons are absolutely set on keeping him, the soonest Drummond could leave while making a maximum salary until then is 2019. The only way he could leave in 2017 is to accept the one-year, $4,433,683 qualifying offer. Would he really do that if $120 million is on the table? He couldn’t leave at all in 2016.
The Pistons have two years to convince Drummond to re-sign, and one of those years, he’ll be a restricted free agent. Considering it seems he’s already on board with staying, they’d really have to screw it up not to re-sign him long-term.
Delaying this extension is a technicality, one that should benefit the Pistons – including their franchise player, who’s more likely to have a better supporting cast in the years to come.