Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team's offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.
Trades and Claims
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
There are few quick fixes for perennial lottery teams, and this past offseason for the Pistons serves as primary evidence. The team's most significant move was probably the trade that sent Ben Gordon's contract, which includes a $13.2MM player option for 2013/14 he will almost certainly pick up, to the Bobcats for Corey Maggette, who'll be off the books by next summer. Still, it's a deal that isn't likely to do much for the Pistons this season, when it amounts to swapping one overpriced wing player for another.
The drafting of Andre Drummond was also done with an eye cast beyond the horizon. Drummond, who turned 19 in August, is a raw talent, and the team has displayed restraint against the urge to rush his development despite their immediate need for more production, limiting him to 15.4 minutes per game despite his 23.6 PER. Teams at the top of the draft were scared off by Drummond's lack of production at Connecticut, but the Pistons snatched him up at No. 9, content to wait for him to continue to learn and, they hope, eventually fulfill his potential as the perfect complement to Greg Monroe inside, giving the team a rare combination of talented big men in a small-ball era.
If Drummond pans out, the Pistons will have come away remarkably well from a stretch of three consecutive seasons in the no man's land of the middle of the lottery, where they've picked seventh, eighth and ninth the last three years, respectively. That would soothe the sting of parting with the protected first-round pick in the Gordon/Maggette trade, one that seems likely to head to Charlotte in either 2014 or 2015. The inclusion of the pick in that deal suggests that president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and company expect by the team to have improved by then. The protection only covers the top pick in 2015, and it becomes unprotected in 2016, so a downturn in fortunes could be extra painful.
The team is getting surprising play from Kyle Singler, the 33rd pick in the 2011 draft who spent last season in Europe. Vyacheslav Kravtsov, an undrafted signee from the Ukraine, hasn't seen the floor in the regular season, but the Pistons were reportedly pleased with his work in camp. The onus is on coach Lawrence Frank and his staff to develop a hidden gem or two to compensate for the lack of high lottery picks and established stars.
The Pistons also took no-risk fliers on a pair of wayward lottery picks, inviting Jonny Flynn and Terrence Williams to camp on non-guaranteed deals. The team already had 15 guaranteed contracts, forcing Flynn and Williams to be especially impressive to earn a spot on the regular season roster. They weren't, and wound up getting cut, but the moves demonstrated one more avenue Dumars is pursuing to try to bring talent aboard.
The bittersweet backstory to the offseason was the closed door the team showed to center Ben Wallace, one of the last remaining links to the 2004 championship team. He said he wanted to retire last season and changed his mind over the summer. With 15 guaranteed deals, the Pistons no longer had room for the 38-year-old, and the Pistons reportedly didn't extend him a training camp invite to avoid the indignity of having to cut him. Wallace hasn't latched on with anyone else.
The final judgment on the offseason won't come anytime this season. Handcuffed by their regrettable signings of Gordon and Charlie Villanueva three years ago, there wasn't much more they could do this summer. The Pistons see this year as one of development for its young players, and aren't panicking after a slow start. The Gordon/Maggette deal was a step in the right direction, since it will give the team more than $10MM in cap room a year sooner than it would have otherwise freed up. As long as the first-round pick in that trade doesn't come back to bite them, this verdict on offseason will likely come down to Drummond's eventual impact, and the Pistons can only hope the early returns are indicative of the final result.
Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors contributed to this post.