The Detroit Pistons are mired in a terrible slump.
Since stud rookie center Andre Drummond went down due to injury during a February 3rd loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pistons are 6-17 and out of the playoff picture.
Therefore, in order for Detroit fans to stave off insanity, it is time to move past this season and start looking at what decisions the Pistons must make during the offseason.
The Pistons will likely have a ton of cap space plus potentially their highest draft pick since they drafted Darko Milicic number two overall in 2003.
They still will have their top three players, Drummond, Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe under their rookie contracts.
But this will be without question the Pistons' most important offseason.
If they effectively maneuver during the summer months, they could finally turn the page on this terrible run of history and potentially boost their chances of making the postseason next year.
However, if they mismanage their finances and/or draft selections, they could be looking at another lost five or six years.
For those that have been reading my articles this year, I have gone back and forth on this issue.
On the one hand, I really like Jose Calderon's spirit and leadership attributes. But on the other hand, I'm not wild about how much money it will take to bring him back.
When the Pistons traded for Calderon, the hope was to see what a true point guard would do for this roster.
The only real thing that the Calderon trade has done has been to show the Pistons that Brandon Knight is likely not suited to be a point guard.
He does, however, play fairly well off of the ball and he has certainly improved his defense.
But the real question going forward comes down to what the Pistons are planning for their backcourt. If team president Joe Dumars thinks that Knight can be developed into the point guard of the future for Detroit, then it doesn't make sense to keep Calderon.
Furthermore, a pairing of Calderon and Knight going forward could be problematic on the defensive side of the ball. Sure Knight has improved, but at 6'3" and 189 pounds, he is ill-suited to match up against most shooting guards who likely will have him by at least two or three inches and 20-40 pounds.
If Calderon is asking for a salary similar to the one he is playing with now ($10 million per season), then the Pistons would be wise to pass.
But if they can get him for $6-7 million for two or three years, then it might be a smart investment.
Chances are, given how weak this free agent class is, especially at the point guard position, the Pistons likely will find themselves in a bidding war that they would be wise to abstain from.
I would put the chances of Calderon re-signing with the Pistons somewhere around 30-40 percent.
The Pistons have done an admirable job of accumulating young talent on their roster.
However they don't really have a cohesive unit.
Brandon Knight is a talented scorer, but is not a natural point guard and lacks the size to be a shooting guard.
Rodney Stuckey is a physical scoring guard but often doesn't show up when the Pistons need him most.
And Greg Monroe is one of the league's most talented young centers, but he is ill-suited to pair with the team's most valuable player, Andre Drummond.
Of the three, Stuckey is obviously the player that the Pistons would most like to move. However, he probably has the least amount of value.
Knight should have some value, but just how much is debatable. Could he fetch a first-round pick? Maybe, but likely not a lottery pick.
And then there is Monroe. It is hard not to appreciate Monroe's game. He is a big man with good hands, a soft touch and a high level of basketball intelligence.
But he can't play defense, he lacks the necessary 15-18 foot jumper and he is sorely lacking athleticism.
Of the three, Monroe is the piece with the most trade value. However, it seems unlikely that Dumars would deal him. It certainly is a divisive issue, but whether or not Monroe fits with the Pistons future plans is a debate worth having.
The Pistons likely will have one of the top five draft picks this year.
Depending on whom the teams above them select, the Pistons could have their choice of any number of great players that fill positions of need.
At point guard, Michigan's Trey Burke, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Syracuse's Michael Carter Williams should be available.
At shooting guard, the Pistons could be looking at Ben McLemore or UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad.
At small forward, Otto Porter, Alex Poythress and James McAdoo will likely be on the board.
The Pistons have the opportunity to bring in an elite player when they have their name called at the draft in June.
Anybody that has been reading my articles knows that I am a big fan of Trey Burke. I also think that Otto Porter is overrated and Shabazz Muhammad is one-dimensional.
Ben McLemore probably fits the Pistons the best, but could be off the board when the Pistons draft.
Therefore, I think that Burke is the best fit for Detroit and someone that the Pistons could build around for years to come.
As mentioned before, the Pistons should have an abundance of cash this offseason.
Likely, they will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million in cap space.
However, the last time Dumars had this much cash to play with, he invested unwisely in Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon.
So what should Detroit do with this cash?
In all honesty, there isn't an elite free agent on the market that the Pistons should covet.
Chris Paul is the only elite player that fills a need and he definitely is not coming to Detroit.
O.J. Mayo plays a position of need, but he doesn't represent a huge upgrade over Knight, especially for the cash that he will be asking for.
Plenty of Pistons fans want to see the team go after Josh Smith, but he is too expensive for what he brings. Besides, his game is dependent on his athleticism, which will start to go south in the years to come.
The best bet for Detroit is to invest in modest free agents that can upgrade the team depth.
Corey Brewer and Tony Allen are ideal fits in Detroit. Both are elite perimeter defenders that have plus athleticism and can help improve the transition offense of the Pistons.
Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry are also a couple of guys that could improve the Pistons' depth, but both will be asking for more than the Pistons should offer.
The name of the game for Detroit in free agency should be moderation. Don't throw a pile of cash at unworthy players; rather, keep your cap flexibility and hope that the league's new luxury tax rules force a team to unload an elite player.