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5 Free-Agent Targets the Detroit Pistons Must Avoid

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IJune 18, 2013

5 Free-Agent Targets the Detroit Pistons Must Avoid

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    For the first time in several years, the Detroit Pistons have a heap of cash to work with.

    They enter the offseason with somewhere between $20-$25 million in salary cap space.

    And while most teams' fans would be excited at this prospect, the Pistons faithful know better. The last time they entered free agency with this much cash in hand they ended up with the disappointing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

    Like that season, this season's free-agency crop is largely flawed. There are some big names, some underrated role players and some guys who are right in the middle.

    A large part of the future success of this team depends on how team president Joe Dumars spends his cash.

    Here are five free-agent targets that the Pistons must avoid.

Monta Ellis, SG

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    It is being reported by several media outlets that Monta Ellis will opt out of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and test free agency.

    On the face of it, Ellis looks like a good player. He is a career 19-points-per-game scorer who can get his shot off against any defender. He is quick as lightning and has averaged as much as 25.5 points per game in a single season.

    So why shouldn't the Pistons be targeting him?

    First off, Ellis is a combo guard. In today's vernacular, we would call him a "tweener". He isn't big enough to be a shooting guard (6'3", 185 lbs) and he lacks the court vision and passing ability to be a point guard.

    Defensively, he really doesn't bring a whole lot to the table. He has good quickness but he seems disinterested in that side of the game.

    He can score. Nobody denies that. But at what cost? He turns the ball over a ton (over three per game last year), he has awful shot discipline (41.6 percent from the field last year) and he jacks up a ton of threes (four per game) despite less than solid accuracy (28.7 percent).

    He also is going to be looking for a ton of cash and is in the verge of turning 28.

    If Pistons fans were frustrated with Rodney Stuckey, Ellis would drive them nuts.

O.J. Mayo, SG

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    O.J. Mayo is a name that has been circulating around the Detroit Pistons fan boards for much of the year.

    Like Ellis, Mayo seems to fit the Pistons on paper. He is a true shooting guard with range and good mechanics.

    He can score and shows solid playmaking ability.

    But what exactly is he worth?

    Most seasons, Mayo would be a second or third tier free agent. He is not an elite scorer, rebounder or passer. He does a little bit of everything, but he isn't known for defense.

    Some fans may see the name and assume that he is better than he is. At this point, Mayo is a 14-15 point-per-game scorer who will knock down about 36 percent of his threes and play well off of the ball.

    But he isn't a plus athlete. He also doesn't have the burst to get to the hoop at will.

    Some have called him a combo guard, but I haven't seen him play effectively at the point.

    Defensively, he is a liability.

    So basically, you are getting a spot-up shooter who can also play off of screens. How much is that worth? $6 million per season?

    In this market, Mayo will be looking for $9-$11 million per season which is just too much for what he does. The Pistons could in all honesty develop Kim English into this type of player, albeit not quite as talented.

Josh Smith, F

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    In a league dominated by stars, the temptation for the Pistons is to go out and find their own superstar.

    The problem is that the true superstars in this free agent class (Chris Paul, Dwight Howard) have no interest in coming to Detroit to play for a losing club.

    Therefore, the next temptation is to find a second-tier star and hope that he can develop into a superstar.

    That's exactly why some Pistons fans have targeted Josh Smith.

    Smith is a good player. He plays good defense, he can rebound and he has excellent athleticism.

    But offensively, he is tough to watch. If Pistons fans were frustrated by Rasheed Wallace's need to stand on the perimeter and jack ill-advised shots, they are really going to hate Smith.

    Smith has a decent post game offensively, but he doesn't like spending much time down there. He has the athleticism to blow by defenders, but he prefers to jack jumpers which he doesn't excel at (30 percent from three point range last year).

    The biggest concern about Smith is that he is quickly coming out of his prime. Next year he will turn 28. That isn't usually a high number, but when your game is predicated on athleticism and you've been in the league for eight years already, that number might as well be 32.

    That also is the age when his four year contract will run out. And for a guy who will want close to max contract money, the Pistons would be wise to stay away.

Andre Iguodala, G/F

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    Let me begin this slide by saying that I have always liked Andre Iguodala's game.

    He used to always give the Pistons fits when he played for Philadelphia. His mix of athleticism, quickness and defensive intensity made him a natural fit for the Pistons.

    Five years ago.

    Iguodala is nowhere near the player he was during his prime in Philadelphia.

    He still is a good player who plays excellent defense and can knock down the occasional deep jumper. For awhile, Iguodala appeared to be on the verge of stardom.

    But at this point in his career, Iguodala is a nice player. He is no longer elite. For a guy who is opting out of major cash for next year ($15 million) in order to become a free agent, he likely is going to be looking for a multi-year deal upwards of $12 million per season.

    What exactly would the Pistons be getting for this investment? He averaged 13 points, five assists and five boards per game to go along with 1.7 steals.

    Those are good numbers, but is he worth being the highest paid player on the team? He is not a star, yet for the amount that it would take for him to play in Detroit, he would need to be.

    And for a guy who will turn 30 next season, that's just too much cash.

J.R. Smith, SG

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    It's tempting to look at his stats and think that J.R. Smith might be a good fit in Detroit.

    He averaged over 18 points per game to go along with five boards and knocked down over 36 percent of his three-point shots.

    He also is an exciting player who played in a huge market, so it's easy to imagine him as a savior for our little squad in Michigan.

    But if you take a closer look at Smith's game, you can understand why he is on this list.

    Offensively, he is dynamic but very much a sixth man. He is single-minded in his approach, he loves to score. He can drive and he can shoot. He is a solid rebounder for a guard and his athleticism is off the charts.

    But he takes a ton of bad shots. He's a lot like Stuckey, except he plays with more confidence—misguided as it might be.

    Defensively, he is a train wreck. This all comes from effort as he has the tools to be very good on that side of the ball. He just doesn't care about playing defense.

    He also will likely command a big salary. Given the big spotlight he was under and his career numbers this year, he probably will earn around $7 million per season. For a player with a questionable attitude and the game of a sixth man, he would be an awful fit in Detroit.

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