Miami transformed itself into a superstar’s paradise through free agency last summer. The Pistons won’t be able to remake themselves like the Heat, who play at The Palace on Wednesday night, but free agency will have a profound effect on their roster this offseason.
Team president of basketball operations Joe Dumars will have to make free agent decisions on 40 percent of his roster. The most prominent name on the list is starting forward Tayshaun Prince, but there are a handful of others who could also head into the market.
Prince, Tracy McGrady and Chris Wilcox will become unrestricted free agents, while Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko and DaJuan Summers will be restricted free agents. Dumars is on record as saying he’d like to retain Prince if the price is right. But Prince wants to test the free-agent waters and it’s more likely that Dumars will pursue a sign-and-trade agreement with the club that wants him.
Dumars’ decisions on McGrady and Stuckey will hinge on which player he’d rather retain at point guard. McGrady, who signed a one-year contract at the veteran’s minimum salary last summer, was surprisingly thrust into that role midway through the season with generally positive results. Stuckey has been shuttled between the point and shooting guard spots, much to his dismay. Stuckey hasn’t developed into their franchise player or team leader, but unless he receives an overly generous offer sheet, the club is inclined to keep him.
Though Jerebko hasn’t played this season because of an Achilles tendon tear, he’s near the top of Dumars’ priority list. The front office loves Jerebko’s game and work ethic and is eager to see how the second-year power forward will mesh with rookie Greg Monroe, who has arguably been the team’s Most Valuable Player this season.
Wilcox has played well of late but wouldn’t be viewed as anything more than an insurance policy, depending how the rest of the offseason unfolds. Summers, a little-used small forward, would only return if Prince leaves and a potential rotation spot opens up.
Dumars will also look to improve the team, particularly his frontcourt, by signing another team’s free agent. He should have enough financial flexibility to pursue a high-profile big man such as Dallas’ Tyson Chandler and New Orleans’ Zach Randolph.
HAWKS 104, PISTONS 96: The Hawks used a balanced attack to shoot 52.9 percent from the field and end the Pistons’ two-game streak Sunday afternoon. The Pistons lost their seventh straight road game even though their reserves outscored Atlanta’s bench, 57-24.
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