The Pistons might have interest in someone like Al Horford to offset a lack of leadership, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press hears (Twitter link). Brandon Jennings pointed to a leadership void after Thursday’s blowout loss to the Pelicans, saying that he and fellow point guard Reggie Jackson should give their teammates more direction, as Ellis writes in a full story. It’s unclear whether the Pistons are indeed eyeing the Hawks big man or if the idea would be to pursue him via trade or after his contract expires at season’s end. Horford is No. 5 in the latest Hoops Rumors 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings.
A free agent pitch would appear more likely than a trade, since the Hawks would no doubt be reluctant to break up a team that’s just two games behind second place in the Eastern Conference with a deal that sends out a player they reportedly view as a building block for now and the future. Horford is a longtime client of the Wasserman Media Group, the firm that was home to super agent Arn Tellem before he left this past summer to become vice chairman of Palace Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Pistons. The former third overall pick dumped the Wasserman agency for Bill Duffy of BDA Sports after Tellem’s departure but quickly backtracked and rejoined Wasserman. Jason Glushon of Wasserman is Horford’s primary representative, according to RealGM.
The Pistons are reportedly keen on acquiring a power forward who would bump Ersan Ilyasova to the bench and plan to target Ryan Anderson and Donatas Motiejunas this summer. Horford, who turns 30 in June, has swung between power forward and center for much of his career. He’s added a 3-point shot to his game this season, nailing 32.6% of his 129 attempts. That’s a modest percentage, but the sudden addition of this component to Horford’s game (he’s taken more 3-pointers this year than his first eight seasons put together) makes him more of a fit for Stan Van Gundy‘s preferred one-in, four-out style.
Van Gundy clearly wasn’t pleased with his players after Thursday’s game, describing the performance as “deplorable” and saying the Pistons “look like a team that is firmly committed to trying to be mediocre,” as Ellis relays. Jennings pointed to the leadership role he assumed in the wake of Van Gundy’s decision to waive Josh Smith last season, Ellis notes, though that was when Jennings was the starting point guard, a job Jackson holds now.
“We’ll say things here and there, but mostly it’s just coach talking and it has to come from the players and we have to police ourselves,” Jennings said, according to Ellis. “Guys get into it, guys tell how they feel. We don’t have any of that. Maybe it needs to be done. Just let it out and let’s go on from there.”
The Pistons are 23-20, tied with the Heat for sixth place in the East. Detroit has only about $48MM in guaranteed salary committed against a projected $89MM cap for next season, but that doesn’t include $8MM in non-guaranteed salary for Ilyasova, whom the Pistons reportedly intend to keep, and a cap hold of about $8.180MM for Andre Drummond. That would give the Pistons roughly $64MM in commitments, not counting other, smaller cap holds, which would make it a tight squeeze to fit in Horford. He’s eligible for a projected $24.9MM maximum salary.