Pistons’ owner Gores willing to pay tax to lock up Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

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Detroit’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made our list of top five guys likely to get an extension to his rookie contract this summer. The main reason — Stan Van Gundy likes him. He fits what SVG wants to do — Caldwell-Pope is a quality defender who averaged 14.5 points per game last season (although not efficiently).

The question is money — the Pistons have the fourth highest payroll in the NBA this season and have a lot of that money locked up for future years. Pay Caldwell-Pope and the Pistons could pay the tax.

Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press asked owner Tom Gores how he feels about that.

“Look, if we weren’t building a core, there’s really no point in paying the luxury tax. Because we are building a core, would I do it? Yeah, absolutely. This is a tremendous team. If you go down the line, player by player, and especially our young folks, these are real players. You look at KCP as a very diverse player. He keeps working at his game and you look at his improvement and just like anybody else, he will improve in other areas. Part of Stan’s coaching philosophy obviously is defense. So you say go into the luxury tax for nothing, then that would be silly because then we’re putting the franchise behind. But given that we have such a good core, if that’s what it took, and we feel we’ve made such progress this year, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it because we want to keep getting better.”

That the owner is willing to pay to win should make Pistons’ fans happy. If you read the entire Q&A, you can also see how badly Goes wants to win. It’s all part of the bright future in the Motor City.

As for an extension, I’m not sold KCP is a max player, if the two sides reach a deal it would be for a little under the max. The question is can the two sides agree on a number?

If not, next summer Caldwell-Pope becomes a restricted free agent and one another team could try to poach (especially if his progress continues). For the Pistons, do they want to risk letting the market set his value? For Caldwell-Pope, does he want to take the risk (injury and other) of betting on himself and turning down a good deal to plan on a better one down the line? Some players, Jimmy Butler for example, have made that bet and succeeded, but if Caldwell-Pope wants to stay in Detroit, he’ll need to think about all the options.