Predicting which Detroit Pistons free agents will stay, go in 2023-24

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons are set up for a fair amount of roster attrition this offseason. They have three unrestricted free agents — Hamidou Diallo, Cory Joseph and Rodney McGruder — three players with team options — Alec Burks, Isaiah Livers and Eugene Omoruyi — and a non-guaranteed player (R.J. Hampton).

Bojan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III are both signed beyond next season, and the Pistons have six other players still on their rookie contracts — three of whom (Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and James Wiseman) are eligible for extensions. Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey will all be back barring a significant, and surprising, trade development.

Couple that with at least $30 million in cap space to pursue free agents, incoming top-five and second-round picks, and the potential addition of 2022 draft-and-stash wing Gabriele Procida, and there are many variables the Pistons will have to account for as they make decisions on their pending and potential free agents. They have eight players under contract in 2023-24, and that will likely rise to doubledigits based on how their team options shake out.

COACHING SEARCH: Ime Udoka a wild card among 7 names to watch

SHAWN WINDSOR: Troy Weaver thinks Pistons have enough to win. His next move will be huge

Of course, any trades would blow up the math dictating the Pistons’ decisions on their own free agents. As we all know, Troy Weaver likes to make deals. But based on the current roster, let’s predict which unrestricted and potential free agents will stay, and which ones will go.

Alec Burks (team option)

The 31-year-old guard is coming off of his best offensive season, posting career-highs in true shooting percentage (60.2%; his previous high was 56.4% in 2020-21) and effective field goal percentage (54.4%). He was second on the team in 3-point percentage (41.4%) while leading the team in both 3-point attempts and free throw attempts per 100 possessions.

Burks was a luxury for a rebuilding team — a true difference-maker off of the bench who often put points up in a hurry. The Pistons want him back, and it would be surprising to see them decline his $10.5 million team option. If anything, the team will look to lock him into a longer contract, similar to Bogdanovic last fall.

The verdict: Stay.

Isaiah Livers (team option)

As Weaver acknowledged Tuesday, the Pistons need more wings who do what Livers does. He’s the most natural “3-and-D” player on the roster, and remains in Detroit’s longterm plans after the organization selected him in the second round in 2021.

Livers has a year remaining on the three-year deal he initially signed and will enter restricted free agency in 2024 if the Pistons pick up his $1.8 million team option this summer. All indications point to them doing so.

The verdict: Stay.

Eugene Omoruyi (team option)

The 6-foot-7 wing energized the Pistons with his hustle late in the season. His addition highlighted how deficient the team was in the wing department, and they will look to upgrade the position this summer. Omoruyi has shot just 28.6% from 3 in 44 NBA games, and isn’t quite there on defense. If he returns, it likely won’t be on the main roster.

The verdict: Go.

Hamidou Diallo

After a breakout season, Diallo is entering unrestricted free agency. He averaged 9.3 points and 3.5 rebounds on a career-best 57.3% shooting percentage. That was thanks to a 72% clip at the rim, in the 83rd percentile among wings according to Cleaning The Glass. Diallo is a paint specialist, almost entirely abandoning the 3-point shot last season. No other player his size took a higher percentage of their shots at the rim. He thrives as a cutter, in transition and even in the dunkers spot — which is usually owned by big men.

He has a unique skill set, and the Pistons would like to bring him back for the right price. He was the team’s designated “energy player” this past season, and embraced and thrived in his role. The team will have other priorities to figure out first, though. Diallo doesn’t address their need for shooting and perimeter defense. He’s capable defensively, but is prone to lapses. There’s a good chance he returns, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sign elsewhere depending on how much money the Pistons are willing to commit to him.

The verdict: Stay.

HELP WANTED: Pistons’ Weaver knows what next coach needs: Discipline, development, defense

Rodney McGruder

There are factors working against the Pistons bringing back their beloved veteran duo of McGruder and Cory Joseph. The roster will stand at 11 players if they pick up Burks and Livers’ options and keep their first-round pick. With a second-round pick and additional moves in free agency, the roster gets to 15 players quickly.

But Weaver has made it clear he will always have veteran leadership in the locker room. McGruder is a skilled shooter who knocked down 42.3% of his 3-pointers last season — the best mark on the team. But most of his value comes from what he has provided off the floor as a mentor and example-setter.

Detroit’s roster was already at 15 players when the team re-signed McGruder last summer, which speaks to his importance. He’s an unrestricted free agent and in control of his destiny, but his comfort with the Pistons and relationship with Weaver could lead to a new deal.

The verdict: Stay.

Cory Joseph

Since arriving midway through the 2020-21 season, Joseph has been reliable. He’s a strong outside shooter (40.1% from 3 over his past two seasons in Detroit), takes care of the ball and does the little things that often go unnoticed. He has also been a rotation fixture, appearing in 62 games last season and 65 the season before.

Like McGruder, his value also goes beyond his on-court production; he has been a valuable presence in the locker room. He could look to sign with a contender, but Weaver has valued continuity and the Pistons could still use a veteran point guard. Joseph checks every box. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him return.

The question is if the team will have an available roster spot for him. Cunningham and Ivey will absorb a significant amount of backcourt minutes as likely starters, and Hayes could return as the primary backup. Burks made his season debut after Cunningham played his final game last season, so the Pistons never had a fully healthy backcourt rotation. If all four of them are back, it would be tougher to see Joseph’s return, with the team needing additional wing depth.

The verdict: Go.

R.J. Hampton (non-guaranteed)

Hampton was solid after signing with the Pistons in late February, shooting 36.5% from 3 and giving their backcourt some speed and size. But he shot just 39.6% overall and 28.6% from 3 during his final eight games, with his 27-point outburst in the Pistons’ home finale against the Brooklyn Nets being the exception. Detroit has depth at guard, and won’t prioritize bringing Hampton back.

The verdict: Go.

More: ‘The Pistons Pulse’: Goodbye, Dwane Casey, hello critically important offseason

Articles You May Like

Pistons vs. Bulls GameThread: Ron Holland should be back to face Chicago
Luke Walton, Kevin Burleson to join Pistons as assistant coaches under JB Bickerstaff
Summer League Preview: Detroit Pistons take on Reed Sheppard and the Houston Rockets
Summer League Preview: First look at Ron Holland as Pistons play 76ers in Las Vegas
Pistons vs. Sixers GameThread: Game Time, TV, Lineups, and more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *