Detroit Pistons still have money in NBA free agency. Would Carmelo Anthony make sense?

Detroit Free Press

NBA free agency started June 30. The Detroit Pistons have been fairly conservative in their dealings thus far, re-signing Marvin Bagley III to a three-year, $37.5 million contract and adding Kevin Knox II to a two-year, $6 million deal.

Three weeks later, the Pistons have roughly $10 million in cap space remaining. The roster is full, but they can carry up to 20 players during the offseason. They could sign another player to shore up their rotation, and make any necessary cuts before opening night, or more likely, maintain flexibility for any trades during the season.

The pool of available unrestricted free agents has shrunk significantly, but here are five fits who make sense.

Predicting how Pistons’ depth chart and rotation could look in 2022-23 ]

Carmelo Anthony, F, Los Angeles Lakers

2021-22 stats: 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 44.1% overall, 37.5% from 3

The 10-time All-Star’s career found new life after he accepted his current role as a sharpshooting role player. Anthony recently turned 38, and next season would be his 20th. But his past three seasons have been among his best as an outside shooter. He shot 37.5% last season on nearly six 3-pointers per game. It’s unclear if Anthony is willing to play for a rebuilding team at the end of his career, but he would fill a need for Detroit.

Fans would certainly love to see Anthony in a Pistons uniform. The franchise using the second overall pick to select Darko Milicic instead of Anthony in 2003 is one of the NBA’s greatest “what-ifs.” Milicic never panned out and several former figures in the organization — including Larry Brown and Chauncey Billups — are on record stating they believe the Pistons would’ve won multiple championships with Anthony on the roster. Anthony revealed in 2021 the Pistons promised they would draft him. 

He also has a relationship with Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, who led the charge for Syracuse to recruit Anthony in 2002. They previously reunited in 2017, when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Anthony while Weaver was an assistant GM. A second reunion makes sense from Detroit’s standpoint, but Anthony could be better served ring-chasing.

If Pistons drafted Carmelo Anthony in 2003, what happens to Rasheed Wallace? ]

Wayne Ellington, G, Los Angeles Lakers

2021-22 stats: 6.7 points, 38.9% from 3

Ellington is less than two years removed from a prolific season with the Pistons, during which he knocked down 42.2% of his 3-pointers in 2020-21, and is one of the best shooters in franchise history. He has had two stints with the franchise, and twice has tied second-place for the franchise record for most 3s made in a single month. He hit 48 in January 2021, tying his 48 in March 2019. He’ll turn 35 next season, but he’s very familiar with the organization and can still shoot.

Jeremy Lamb, G/F, Sacramento Kings

2021-22 stats: 7.3 points, 32.4% from 3

The 2012 lottery pick didn’t shoot well from 3 last season, but has a 34.2% career mark from outside and would give Detroit’s wing rotation some security. He’s a career role player and three years removed from his best season, during which he averaged 15.3 points for the Charlotte Hornets while knocking down nearly 35% of his 3s. Lamb turned 30 in May and could still have more productive basketball ahead of him.

Juancho Hernangómez, F, Utah Jazz

2021-22 stats: 3.3 points, 34.8% from 3

Hernangómez’s career has taken off this offseason. His acting career, to be clear. He co-starred, as Bo Cruz, alongside Adam Sandler in the Netflix drama “Hustle,” which released in June. Hernangómez was waived by the Jazz on June 30, but shot nearly 44% from 3 on 2.8 attempts per game during 19 games with Utah last season.

Tony Snell, G/F, New Orleans Pelicans

2021-22 stats: 3.5 points, 35.2% from 3

The third former Piston on this list, Snell is a career 39.4% outside shooter and would immediately become one of the team’s most reliable floor-spacers. He previously played for the Pistons during the 2019-20 season and shot 40.2% from 3 on 4.3 attempts per game.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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