The Detroit Pistons, despite some past misdeeds, have cap space. The team technically has just over $20 million in projected cap space, space it can use before figuring out what it wants to do with scoring forward Greg Monroe, who is a restricted free agent this summer. That’s space that the team can utilize to attempt to find some sort of spacing, some sort of passing element, some sort of drink-stirrer that can help break up what was possibly the league’s most-stagnant offense in 2013-14.
So, on Tuesday, the Pistons agreed to terms with … Jodie Meeks for three-years and $19.5 million?
Well, I suppose this summer was always going to be a players’ market.
Meeks is not a bad player, but three years seems like a stretch. This is likely the influence of what is a weak free agent class beyond the massive names at the top of the heap (LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Ramon Sessions). With Joe Dumars out of the picture in Detroit, and Dumars favorite Rodney Stuckey likely to move on as a free agent , the team will need help at the shooting guard slot, and Meeks (who turns 27 later this summer) is a solid enough place-holder.
At above the league’s average salary, for three guaranteed years? It’s not the biggest gamble, and the Pistons have a clear cap picture this summer even with millstones like Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings on board, but the move does seem like one they could slightly regret. Especially with Monroe and center Andre Drummond set to demand contract extensions this year and next.
This is how the summer of 2014 will turn out, though. Teams have been hoarding cap space for this offseason for years now, in the hopes that they could entice Kobe Bryant (who signed a contract extension last fall) or LeBron or Bosh or Carmelo away from home. Detroit wasn’t set to be one of those teams, knowing Dumars he would have hung onto Stuckey and possibly … well, signed someone like Jodie Meeks.
The first free agent signing of the Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower era was never going to be a knockout, even with all that cap space, because the new Pistons president/coach and general manager are still figuring out if they can actually make on-court hay with what Dumars left them. The team may decide that it needs that cap space this summer to possibly take on more immediate salary as a way to unload Smith and/or Jennings in favor of long term help, and let’s not forget that Meeks fills a need. And for only three seasons, working through his prime.
That third season, in 2016-17, won’t be looked at as a Josh Smith-sized millstone. Will it be looked at as a small impediment, or the contract that puts Detroit over the luxury tax edge?
It’s a minor worry, but a legitimate one. Before that hits, though, the Pistons have signed the type of shooter and scorer they need to a league-average price. For now, it’s nothing to fret over.
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