Cap Space Aplenty I: The Detroit Pistons
The NBA free agency period starts up at 12:01 ET July 1st, and it will be a bidding war for many of the best free agents with the salary cap going up big time for 2016-17. The salary cap went up from $70 million last year to $94 million for 2016-17, an increase of about 34%.
With that in mind, the Pistons current payroll sits around $66 million according to Hoopshype. Andre Drummond is a restricted free agent and many expect him to get a max deal from the Pistons (est. $24 million/yr). This severely limits the Pistons options in free agency assuming they don't want to pay luxury tax for going over the cap, though this may be inevitable.
ESPN reports that the Pistons are allowed to go over the cap to keep Drummond due to owning his Bird Rights.
Despite drafting a big forward in Henry Ellenson and acquiring depth big man Cameron Bairstow in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, the Pistons could look to add a big man to fully flesh out the power forward position. The Pistons also need a backup point guard after Steve Blake became an unrestricted free agent and Spencer Dinwiddie went to the Bulls in the Bairstow trade.
Let's take a look at possible options for the Pistons in free agency.
The Big Men
PF Ryan Anderson (New Orleans, pictured). Stan Van Gundy has history with Anderson when the two were together on the Magic. In Van Gundy's last year with the Magic, Anderson started in all 61 games he appeared in with 16 points and seven boards a game plus a 43% field goal percentage.
PF Al Horford (Atlanta). There will be no shortage of demand for Horford and the Pistons signing him might be a pipe dream more than anything. However there is something to be said about the possibility of coming back to Michigan where he went to high school. He would immediately fill the starting four spot and allow Marcus Morris to shift back as a small forward. He would come with a massive price tag though.
PF Mirza Teltovic (Phoenix). At 6'9" he's among the shorter options at the power forward spot however he has good mobility and a quick shot that can really help space the floor for SVG. Teltovic fits into a deep power forward class, a team like the Pistons could really take a shine to him while the rest of the NBA focuses on the biggest fish from the group.
PG Raymond Felton (Dallas). A bad season from an efficiency stand point coming off the bench in Dallas (9 points in 27 minutes per game). He hasn't been a starter since his time in New York (2013-14 season), and it is very likely he'll be relegated to a backup role again somewhere. The Pistons would be a solid landing spot.
PG DJ Augustin (Denver). Augustin has previous experience with Detroit (54 games in 2014-15), and his career high in points came as a Piston. He finished out the season strong with Denver but he may be faced with the option of being a starter on a bad team or a backup on a decent team. Previous SVG experience would certainly be something to lean on in a free agent pitch.
PG Ramon Sessions (Washington). Seemingly a career backup point guard, he's played for eight teams since his NBA career started in 2007-08 season. He's experienced, though he's never started more than 38 games in a season. So long as Reggie Jackson continues his dominance being the starter, it would be a solid depth signing that Jackson would appreciate with virtually no competition for his spot even if he were to miss time.
PG Lorenzo Brown (Detroit). Brown signed multiple 10-day contracts to end the 2015-16 season and while he is not the most attractive option to bring in this spot, he would be cheap and he has knowledge of the offense, or at least as much as he could retain from the bench in his brief time with Detroit last year.
The Pistons could also look to shooting guards to give them help on the perimeter, guys like Dion Waiters and Austin Rivers could be looking to fill into role players after mediocre seasons.
Again all of this is mostly dependent on the deal Drummond is set to get. Chances are you will see some signings to fill needs and then some salary shedding later from Detroit to give Drummond a max deal.
There are three Pistons on the roster who have team options for 2016-17 that could provide some salary shedding easily. Joel Anthony ($2.5M), Cameron Bairstow ($980K), and Darrun Hilliard ($875K).
Either way, the Pistons look primed to use the plethora of cap space they will be granted in 2016-17.