Free Agency Rumors: Miles Bridges to Detroit buzz continues

Detroit Bad Boys

As the player empowerment era continues to rise across the league, player movement, even among the youngest stars, has never seemed more possible. There has never been more player movement in the NBA. Detroit fans only have to look in their own backyard, as the Detroit Pistons brass have completely overhauled the roster in a two-year stretch. Heck, Sekou Doumbouya was the lone survivor of Troy Weaver’s first offseason at the helm.

However, amongst the transactional chaos, the restricted free agency market has remained constant. It’s the one area of free agency in which the front office retains most bargaining power. Hence, it’s incredibly rare for a player to swap teams via restricted free agency, especially if they are coming off a breakout season with averages of; 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

This leads us to Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges and the potential for him to be a target for the cap space-rich Pistons who also have an obvious hole at power forward after the trade of Jerami Grant.

Back in October last year, the Hornets and Bridges were unable to reach an agreement prior to the rookie-extension deadline, with the Flint native turning down a reported 4-year, $60 million offer from Charlotte. Entering his fourth year as a pro, the 24-year-old successfully bet on himself, having a career year and significantly increasing his value around the league.

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Last season, Bridges posted career-highs in; points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, while maintaining decent scoring efficiency, essentially playing himself into, what many perceived, a $130 million max contract. But, this is where things get a little messy.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on June 20 that:

Rival executives expect Hornets restricted free agent Miles Bridges to command a maximum — or near-max — deal in July, and sources said there’s hesitancy from Charlotte to match a max sheet.

Charania’s report doesn’t indicate a Bridges’ departure, rather, a potential possibility is that Mitch Kupchack and the Hornet’s front office would prefer to let the free agency market dictate Bridges value, opposed to offering him the full max.

To add more fuel to the fire, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer noted in a June 21 piece:

the Pistons and Pacers, sources said, have designs on chasing players on the restricted free-agent market and have been the lone teams linked as potential threats to sign talented forward Miles Bridges from the Charlotte Hornets.

Like many rumors, there is complete truth in Fischer’s report however, it would be irresponsible for Detroit management, coming off a third consecutive 20-win season, to not show interest in a 24-year-old budding star.

Yesterday, Bridges caught the attention of NBA Twitter when he was cited removing any affiliation with the Hornets in his Twitter biography:

The updated bio quickly lit up the Twitterverse, with a host of reactionary fanfare signaling a change in team on the horizon for the former Michigan Spartan. Detroit fans, in particular, took the news and ran with it. The thought of a young star returning to his home state of Michigan is sport’s version of a Cinderella ending.

However, while many wish to believe Bridges social media play signifies a change in team, the maneuver could simply be a leverage play from Bridges’ management, Klutch Sports. By evoking social media pressure from Hornets fans, Klutch could use the fan outrage as leverage, to ensure their client is offered the full max from the Hornets.

Finally, in the aftermath of Detroit’s successful Draft, James Edwards III of the Athletic reported that:

Per sources, Detroit is eager to continue to build back toward playoff contention with the aforementioned young core, and the Pistons are expected to use the majority of their remaining cap space to add multiple veteran pieces rather than just one big swing this offseason, per sources.

Hence, with these comments in mind, it would be shocking if Weaver were to offer Bridges a 4yr/$130 million contract. Detroit is now clearly focused on building with their young core of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren. While Bridges is a fringe All-Star talent, bringing him in could potentially stunt the growth of the Pistons youthful Restoration pieces.

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