- Ben Gordon ($12,400,000)
- Rodney Stuckey ($8,500,000)
- Charlie Villanueva ($8,060,000)
- Tayshaun Prince ($6,764,045)
- Jonas Jerebko ($4,500,000)
- Will Bynum ($3,250,000)
- Greg Monroe ($3,217,680)
- Austin Daye ($2,958,077)
- Brandon Knight ($2,678,640)
- (Richard Hamilton – $6,069,767)
- Jason Maxiell ($5,000,000, Player)
Free Agents (Cap Holds)
- 1st Round (Pending lottery; 1.7% chance at first overall pick)
- 2nd Round (39th overall)
- 2nd Round (44th overall)
- Guaranteed Salary (including options): $63,398,209
- Non-Guaranteed Salary, Cap Holds: $6,142,550
- Total (not including draft picks): $69,540,759
On February 1st, the Pistons were a 4-20 team, a mere half-game ahead of the lowly Bobcats and seemingly headed for a high lottery pick. The squad that played .500 ball (21-21) over the rest of the season is closer to what GM Joe Dumars and the front office expects to see from the Pistons in 2012/13.
With nine players on guaranteed deals, and Jason Maxiell a decent bet to pick up his $5MM player option and return, the Pistons' roster for next season figures to look similar to 2011/12's team. And if the Pistons of the second half show up, a mostly-unchanged roster isn't necessarily a bad thing. Young players like Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe continue to develop into strong NBA regulars, and the Pistons figure to add another lottery pick to the roster this summer.
Even with a free agent splash unlikely, the Pistons will face decisions on whether to be active on the trade market or use their amnesty provision. Dumars figures to explore every possible trade avenue, with Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Will Bynum, and Austin Daye among the players that could be discussed. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva won't have trade value, but are candidates to be amnestied if the Pistons want to clear some cap room.
Of course, teams generally only make use of the amnesty provision for extremely unpalatable contracts or if they need to clear room to make another move. With Richard Hamilton's buyout still on their books, Maxiell potentially opting in, and a ninth overall pick adding another $2MM or so to the payroll, the Pistons' 2012/13 salary will likely exceed $65MM even before the team fills out its last few roster spots. Amnestying Gordon or Villanueva wouldn't create the necessary cap space to affect the team's free agent plans, so I wouldn't expect either player to be released unless Detroit is worried about hitting the luxury tax threshold.
All but assured a top-ten draft pick, the Pistons are in a good position to add size in June. Power forward is the draft's deepest position and the Pistons' greatest need. Even if Detroit stays put in the lottery and picks ninth, intriguing big men like Perry Jones III, Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson could be available. While Dumars has indicated the team may just select the best available player, there's a good chance that player could be a big man anyway.
With limited cap flexibility, the Pistons won't be a player for major free agents this summer, but they have enough trade assets to still have an eventful offseason. Expecting a playoff berth for Detroit next season may be a little too optimistic, unless the team can find a significant upgrade in the draft or on the trade market. But the squad that started 2011/12 by losing 20 of 24 games should be a distant memory when next season gets underway.