With the way the Detroit Pistons have been playing lately, no free agent will make Detroit their top destination. That is why the players need to play for their future and at least compete out on the court.
On March 11, Pistons owner Tom Gores spoke briefly to the media about this summer when the Pistons could have up to $25 million in cap space. According to David Mayo from MLive.com:
Things could change markedly this summer, when the Pistons could have something in the range of $25 million with which to splurge in the pursuit of new roster additions.
"We have put ourselves in very good position, as a franchise, with the goal of winning a championship," Gores said.
Gores' job is to be optimistic that fans and sponsors alike will remain invested in the Pistons. However, the real story is that while the Pistons have several key pieces like Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, many of the veterans aren't talented enough, or don't care enough about winning.
For that reason, guard Brandon Knight and other young players on the team have to step up their game over the remainder of the season to prove they actually do have a bright future.
The No. 1 most important thing on the Pistons' agenda is to convince Jose Calderon to return, as he is scheduled to be a free agent this summer.
When the Pistons traded for Calderon on Jan. 30, the team made it known that they would like him to be a part of their future as well.
The way the Pistons have been playing as of late isn't inspiring Calderon to re-sign, so the mission needs to be giving him a glimpse into what the future looks like.
When asked about free agency on March 8 by David Mayo at MLive.com, Calderon replied:
"We have a lot of time to talk about that," Calderon said after today's shootaround before a game tonight against the Dallas Mavericks. "The good thing about it, like I say, when the trade was done, it was about they (the Pistons) wanted me here. That makes a big difference. I feel like I'm wanted, like I'm really comfortable."
Before Pistons fans get too comfortable with the idea of Calderon returning, Calderon then said:
"When July arrives, we'll see what happens," he said. "But at the end of the day, it (wasn't) like, 'I trade you, Jose Calderon, in a trade, to make it work (financially).' It was some interest. They (Pistons) went into the trade to get me and they're trying to get me for the (long term), so it's really nice."
Calderon is a pure point guard and will be in demand once free agency rolls around. He could start for several contenders, and while the Pistons have made it well known that they want to re-sign him, if Calderon doesn't see any improvement by the team, fans can't be surprised if he walks.
Since the trade, Calderon is averaging 11.9 points to go along with 7.2 assists per game, which has really stabilized the point guard position for the Pistons. For any flaw that Calderon might have, he is still the best option for the team at this point.
One known downside about pursuing Calderon is his age, but at 31, he still has several good years left. As Steve Nash has shown, point guards can be effective into their late 30s as long as they take care of themselves.
The bottom line is that the Pistons shouldn't overpay for Calderon, but they need to exhaust every option to re-sign him. He is the right fit for Detroit and can make them better instantly. Though the question remains—are the Pistons the right fit for him?
Another factor that will help to make sure Calderon re-signs with the Pistons is Drummond's presence. Drummond is going to be a special player, and at 19 years old, he has already shown that his potential is limitless. He could be the best recruiting tool for the Pistons when courting Calderon or any other free agent they are interested in.
It is essential for Drummond to get healthy, and then have him play alongside Monroe. Whether that will happen this year or next season, Drummond shouldn't rush returning to the Pistons until he is 100 percent healthy.
It would be nice for Drummond and Calderon to build chemistry on the floor, and to see how much better the two could make each other. Through Drummond's play, the Pistons can convince Calderon that they are an up-and-coming team, and he would be more likely to re-sign so he can lead the team into the playoffs.
Re-signing Calderon will be the first step in making the Pistons relevant again. If the players don't care, then why should Calderon or any other player come to Detroit, regardless of how much money is on the table?
Free agency starts now and hopefully the players under contract understand that.
*All statistics are as of March 16
**All statistics are from basketball-reference.com