By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – If the Detroit Pistons hit a home run in free agency, it will not be because they swung for the fences, Pistons team president and head coach Stan Van Gundy said last Tuesday — a week before free agency began.
The Pistons have about $13.5 million in cap space, the coach said, but the team does not plan to spend it all in one place.
“We don’t have max money,” Van Gundy said. “We have too many needs to go out, even at $13.5 million, with what’s on the list. We think spending that kind of money on one guy and leaving all the other things for minimum guys, based on who’s on the list, we think that would be a mistake, and that the better approach for us is taking three or four spots we want to fill, trying to spread the money around, certainly more money in certain areas, but trying to spread the money around and see if we can improve three or four areas a little bit rather than improving one area a lot.”
What Detroit does in free agency will revolve to some extent around restricted free agent forward Greg Monroe, whom Van Gundy said the team values highly, though it remains to be seen whether the Pistons re-sign him, match an offer from another team to keep him, trade him or let him walk. Monroe and his agent David Falk are expected to seek a max contract.
With Monroe’s future still up in the air, Van Gundy said the Pistons just have to know what players they like at all positions. Van Gundy and the rest of the front office have already analyzed the market, discussing which players would consume more of half Detroit’s available cap space, whether the Pistons would be willing to pay that much for any of those players and also ruling out players that the team does not want no matter how cheaply they would come.
Van Gundy expects that media and fans will not be doing cartwheels in excitement over Detroit’s free agency signings, but he is okay with what might be termed “boring” acquisitions, as long as the those additions make the team better.
The main focus for the Pistons will be what Van Gundy calls “value guys” — those who play with heart and fill a specific need for the team. After a rough 2013-2014 season that got worse as it wound down, high character is high on the list of requirements for potential new Pistons.
“Our team needs an energy infusion,” Van Gundy said. “Hopefully some of it will come from our returning guys deciding to put more energy into the game, but we need an energy infusion … When you get down to guys in those salary ranges, you’re not going to get the multi-talented guys that can do everything … What you’re looking for is those high character guys with specific skills who play specific roles on your team that are needed to make us better.
“The analogy I’ve used is we’re not going to hit a home run, but if we can get three singles, or two singles and a double and drive in a couple runs, we’ll be okay,” Van Gundy added. “I think it’s important. I think we can improve some things on our team, I think we’re pretty specific about what we’re looking for and we’ll go out and pursue those guys. Then you need a little bit of luck, too, you really do.”
Detroit finished last season 20th in field goal percentage and 29th in three-point field goal percentage, so getting a player or two who specializes in shooting could be a priority. A few guys who might fit the bill are Anthony Morrow of the New Orleans Pelicans, Jodie Meeks of the Los Angeles Lakers and C.J. Miles of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Miles shot 39.3 percent from beyond the arc in 2013-2014, Meeks made 40.1 percent of his 3-pointers and Morrow bested nearly everyone by draining 45.1 percent of his long-range shots. Last season Miles made $2.2 million, Meeks earned $1.5 million and Morrow made $1.1 million, according to spotrac.com. All three have played in the NBA for at least five seasons.