Yeah, I know guys, it has been a rough season.
The Detroit Pistons—aside from the surprising play of gifted rookie big man Andre Drummond—have been a tough team to watch this year.
Rather than dwelling on another seemingly lost season, let's take a look at some reasons for optimism.
The Pistons will be heading into this off-season armed with two fantastic weapons.
One, they will have another fantastic lottery pick in their hands and available assets to trade should they want another one.
This figures to be a fairly deep draft on the wings, which is where the Pistons need to improve the most (keep an eye out for my draft profile articles, of which there are already three).
Two, they will be well under the salary cap.
If the information available is correct, the team should have somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-$30 million in cap space. That is dependent upon whether or not Charlie Villanueva uses his player option to stay and whether or not Rodney Stuckey remains with the team given that his contract is only partially guaranteed.
Provided the salary cap remains in the $60 million range, you are looking at a likely $25 million in space, give or take a million or two.
We are going to focus on smart ways for the Pistons to use this money.
First off, let's just cross a few names off of the list.
With the exception of Paul, it's just as well since they aren't good fits for this team. But those guys are either going to re-sign with their current teams, or they are going to be signed by a big market team in a sexier locale.
So here are the reasonable targets for the Detroit Pistons this summer that the team should be scouting going forward.
Alright, let me get this out of the way. I love Tony Allen's game.
But that's just me, I love glue guys that play defense. I really enjoy a lockdown defender that makes life difficult for opponents.
Allen is perhaps the best perimeter defender in the league right now.
Offensively, he doesn't offer much. He has a solid mid-range game, but an awful three-pointer. Allen is not a dynamic player on the offensive side of the ball.
But, he is very athletic and can finish with flair. He also is great in transition, utilizing his excellent ability to grab steals to start the break and often finish it.
Signing someone like Allen sends a message to the team and the fans that this team is committed to defense. They would finally have someone that could stay in front of guys like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
However, it is tricky figuring out exactly where he fits with this team due mainly to the fact that nobody knows what the team thinks about Brandon Knight going forward.
Do they think Knight is a future point guard or shooting guard?
Physically, he is built to be a point guard, the concern is if he can develop the court vision and passing ability to become a good one.
Personally, I would dangle Knight before the draft and see if he brings back a lottery pick.
If Knight stays on as a shooting guard and the team signs a point guard to go along with him, Allen becomes much more difficult to get.
Would he agree to sign with a bad team and come off the bench? Probably not.
Besides, an expensive sixth man is a luxury this team can't afford.
Look for Allen to sign for about double his current $3.3 million salary for about four years unless he gives the Memphis Grizzlies a hometown bargain.
Corey Brewer would be a tremendous pickup for the Pistons.
Like Allen, Brewer is an athletic wing player that thrives at defense on the perimeter.
Also like Allen, Brewer is fantastic at playing the passing lanes and is a dynamic finisher.
He is an elite athlete and plays above the rim. Brewer would be a fantastic fit for the young and athletic Pistons, especially in the transition game.
Brewer also suffers from the same problem that Allen has in his game, a consistently poor outside jump shot.
Brewer's isn't quite as bad as Allen's, but he is a career 29.7 percent shooter from downtown.
The idea of Brewer and Drummond both running the court on a fast-break makes me salivate.
Brewer also could be a real option here. He is only making $3.3 million this year and is a reserve with the Denver Nuggets. The idea of a hefty raise and a starting job could be enough for the swingman to forget how ugly Detroit can be in the winter.
I think Brewer will be commanding somewhere in the neighborhood of Ersan Ilyasova money, something like $7-$8 million per year and a four year deal.
If the Pistons could get him to sign for only three, I would pull the trigger quickly.
Alright, so this one is kind of a gimme.
Since debuting with the Pistons, Calderon has added a new dimension to this team that was sorely missing over the past few years.
The infusion of a pass-first point guard with range has been fun to watch.
That being said, he is going to have to take a considerable pay cut from his current $10 million contract.
He is 31, and a terrible defender, which should give the Pistons some sort of discount.
But then again, this team has been wretched during his stay here, so why would he want to stick around?
The key with Calderon will be what the Pistons decide to do in the draft.
If they draft a point guard like Michigan's Trey Burke, they likely will opt to not re-sign Calderon.
If they decide to draft a dynamic shooting guard like Indiana's Victor Oladipo, then they will likely move Knight back to the point guard spot and not re-sign Calderon.
Either way, the Pistons certainly will be scouting Calderon heavily and hoping that a more reasonable contract—$6-$8 million per year for three seasons—is on the table.
Some fans may be wondering what ever happened to DeJuan Blair.
After having a fantastic rookie season in San Antonio and following it up with a couple more solid seasons, Blair lost his starting position and his value has halted.
He is a solid interior defender, great rebounder and has surprising athleticism.
In a lot of ways, he is a younger version of Jason Maxiell and could add toughness to the bench.
The key with Blair is going to be conditioning. If he is in poor shape, it will cost him millions this summer.
Blair is the type of player that the Pistons should be targeting as a potential replacement for Maxiell, should they decide to not bring him back, which seems likely.
Blair would be a bargain at around $3-$4 million on a one or two year deal, similar to what J.J. Hickson got last year from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Carl Landry is one of the reasons why the Golden State Warriors have been one of the league's surprise teams this year.
His ability to contribute points and rebounds off the bench have been invaluable to his team.
Landry is not a strong defender, but the Pistons don't really need him to be. They need a big guy coming off the bench that can score in the paint.
His range extends out to about 15 feet, so he will be similar to Maxiell in that sense. But he is at least two inches taller than the Pistons' big man which will allow him to get his shot off.
The key to the Landry situation will be how much of a raise he is looking for. He has a player option for $4 million that he will likely forgo.
If the Pistons can convince him to stay around that rate for a two year deal, they could be in luck.
This is the most underwhelming choice of those profiled, but someone that could provide some value to the Pistons.
He failed to win the job until his third season and was then replaced by Kemba Walker and pushed out of town.
Augustin is a quick, yet very small point guard. He is always looking to pass first and is becoming a very good passer.
He is not a good shooter from deep and still needs to improve his decision-making.
The Pistons need a backup point guard that can distribute the ball and keep the pace going once their primary ball-handler is on the bench.
He also should be a bargain seeing that he isn't having a great season with the Indiana Pacers and currently only is making $3.5 million this year.
The Pistons should be able to get him for around the league minimum.
Earl Clark has been quite a surprise for the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
Don't get me wrong, Clark is not going to be confused with LeBron James on the offensive side of the ball. He is not a great shooter, lacks instincts and does not drive very well.
However, Clark is a heck of a defender. He is long, athletic and has a good motor.
Clark would be a nice player off the bench for the Pistons. He has been a solid role player for the Lakers and likely would be due a decent raise from his current $1.2 million.
Could the Pistons pry Clark away from the Lakers for around $4 million per season?