Detroit Pistons Overpay Jodie Meeks to Address Team's Biggest Need

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

Apr 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks (20) reacts after a 3-point basket against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jodie Meeks is the newest prominent addition to the Detroit Pistons, and you have a right to be confused. 

The deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, who reveals the details of the former Los Angeles Laker's new contract: 

You're allowed to feel good about this deal.

After all, the Pistons desperately needed to add more shooting to their squad, which was awfully devoid of floor spacing during the 2013-14 campaign. They attempted to do so by drafting Spencer Dinwiddie in the second round of the June 26 festivities, and they're continuing to do exactly that now. 

But you're also permitted to feel iffy about this contract.

Paying over $6 million per year doesn't fall in line with precedent for players of Meeks' caliber, and this is Stan Van Gundy's first major decision while working in the Detroit front office. 

Let's focus on that first. 

Meeks isn't quite a shooting specialist. He has more to his game than that, as he can play some defense—enough to avoid being a liability—and put the ball on the floor without dramatically lowering his chances of scoring. In fact, that driving ability was what allowed him to take a stride forward with the Lakers.

That and playing time, of course. 

"Meeks is the first free-agent signing for new Pistons president Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower," writes Wojnarowski. "Detroit has been desperate to add shooting to its roster."

You can smell that desperation a mile away. It doesn't quite reek, but there's definitely a stench.

This is overpaying for a need, especially as it may also be an indictment of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a first-round draft pick from last year with a sweet shooting stroke, even if he struggled during his rookie season. 

If SVG and the rest of the front office learned anything from the ill-fated Joe Dumars era, it should've been to exhibit financial restraint rather than allowing albatross contracts to make their way back onto Detroit's books. This isn't that bad, but it's still far more than market value, particularly during a year with so many wing shooters available. 

Anthony Morrow is available, for example. According to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, the Pistons were set to meet with him after he opted out of his $1.1 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. He likely would've demanded something slightly more than that with the security of additional years.

Not over $6 million per season, though. Something between $4 and $5 million would've been justifiable, but still a bit of a reach. 

However, that's the negative. And it's actually a bit defensible. 

If you're going to overpay for a player, overplay for someone who fits a gaping hole. That's exactly what Detroit just did, and Meeks should make this squad significantly more dangerous. 

January 31, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Jodie Meeks (20) controls the ball against the defense of Charlotte Bobcats point guard Ramon Sessions (7) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasque

After all, he's a shooter, something that was missing in the Motor City throughout the 2013-14 season. 

According to, Detroit made 507 three-pointers during the campaign, a mark that topped only the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies. Meanwhile, the Pistons knocked down only 32.1 percent of their attempts from downtown—thanks, Josh Smith—which left them at No. 29 on that leaderboard, beating out just the Philadelphia 76ersThe Pistons' three-point rate? 22.2 percent, tied with the Chicago Bulls for the fifth-worst mark in the league. 

That's a terrible combination. 

If you're going to take so few triples, at least make a good percentage of them. If you're going to shoot that poorly, it should be coming with more involvement from the perimeter. 

A shooting specialist is sorely needed, and that's exactly the type of player Meeks can be. 

Throughout his final season with the Lake Show, the 2-guard from Kentucky knocked down 40.1 percent of his three-point attempts while taking 5.2 per game, both career highs. The highlight of his year came when he dropped a 42-spot against the Oklahoma City Thunder, hitting 11 of his 18 shots from the field, including six triples. 

After Meeks sparked a victory over the Sacramento Kings with an 8 of 8 outing on Feb. 28, Mike D'Antoni told The Associated Press the following, via ESPN

He looked like he really hit his rhythm with his threes. Obviously, he can't go 8-for-8 every night, but he's playing really well. And what he's doing now is adding his drive to the game. He's been strong to the basket, so they don't knock him off. And now it's hard to guard him.

Will he do that for Detroit?

Probably not, but it's highly beneficial to have him spotting up on the perimeter. After all, that decompresses defenses, taking attention away from the talented frontcourt players, and it forces Smith away from spending so much time on the wings. 

Plus, the improvements he made throughout his season in a featured role will carry over. Meeks is more than just a shooter, even if that'll be his primary role with the Pistons. He's capable of driving to the basket and finishing through or around contact, and his passing is adequate. 

"Van Gundy has an offensive system that seems to maximize the 3-point shot and Meeks certainly can provide that," speculates Zach Harper for CBS Sports 

When he was coaching the Orlando Magic, so much of his system relied on surrounding Dwight Howard with shooters, forcing defenses to pick their poison. One option was shutting down the perimeter snipers and letting Dwight torture defenders in one-on-one situations. The other was doubling Dwight and leaving shooters open. 

That's presumably the plan SVG will employ with the Pistons, treating Drummond—and potentially Greg Monroe—as he did D12. There will be alterations, sure, but Meeks is now certain to play a major role. 

So again, this is a tremendous fit. In a vacuum, it's a great signing for the Pistons, pushing them back up into the realm of teams that can realistically compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Meeks really can be that much of a difference-making guard for a team with a dearth of shooters and a desire to use what it does have. 

But everything can't be positive with that price tag. 

It's Van Gundy's first signing, after all, and it doesn't bode well for him showing restraint in the future. Can he remedy that? Absolutely. 

And now, he'll have to if he wants to keep adding more pieces to a Detroit squad that's getting close to the cap. 

Need help deciding if the glass is half full or half empty? Don't hesitate to follow me on Twitter and Facebook 


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