With the drafting of Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, the Detroit Pistons have added, as Joe Dumars put it last night: "the best player and he filled a need." There's no doubting that Caldwell-Pope's shooting provides a much needed boost in the scoring column (especially from the perimeter), but many feel the addition of another shooting guard still leaves the backcourt bare where it matters most: point guard. While it wasn't seriously addressed in the draft (Peyton Siva in the late-second round is not the answer), there are a few free agent targets that the front office might have their eyes one when free agency begins on July 1st –names that could be the difference in terming whether or not this offseason is pinned as failure or success.
If Dumars placed a heavier emphasis on getting a wing scorer for his team in the draft, he must have plans –primary, secondary and third-option– about where the roster could turn for a point guard. Here are a few ways the Pistons could go for a point guard:
Calderon was brought in mid-season via the Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye to Memphis trade, once July 1st hits Calderon will be an unrestricted free agent. Calderon has the offensive intangibles that you want from a setup point guard with one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the league (career 4.13 AST/TO), one of higher assist averages (7.4 assists per game in '12-'13), and a career 10 points-per-game scorer who's a real threat from behind the arc (42.9% three-point average in '12-'13).
When Dumars traded for Calderon, the GM made it known that Calderon was not just an expiring contract (like Corey Maggette), but that Calderon was going to be in the plans moving forward. It's likely that Calderon will be pursued by a good number of teams once free agency begins, but Calderon has told the spanish media that more than money will go into his decision of where to play. Still, Calderon will likely want to go somewhere that allows him to start (that won't be an issue), where his guard skills can drive the offense, and where he has a chance to make the playoffs (only been to postseason twice in his career). The Pistons can offer him the first two options, plus more money that a lot of other teams, but the third one is going to be a tough sell. Calderon says he'll weigh everything when considering where to sign. For the Pistons, it just depends what he weighs most heavily.
Coming off the bench for the all-of-sudden dark horse NBA Finals favorite, Golden State Warriors, Jarrett Jack was big part of the Warriors playoff success this past season. Averaging nearly 30 minutes per game coming off the bench for the Warriors, Jack averaged 12.9 points per game, 5.6 assists, and shot from behind the arc with a 40.4% average.
Warriors players Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut have made their desire for the team to re-sign Jack public, discussing it with the media. Bit as the Warriors have both Carl Landry and Jack heading to free-agency, one of the two is likely to sign elsewhere. Jack is a bit of a Chauncey-Billups'esque journeyman in the NBA (five teams in nine seasons), and has been an NBA starter before his stint as a bench spark. He seem to have found a "home" with Golden State, but the lure of being a starting point guard elsewhere (plus an increased paycheck) could be enough to get Jack to the Pistons.
While there's no rumors directly linking Jack to the Pistons, he'd make a lot of sense for them should Calderon sign elsewhere. The Dallas Mavericks are rumored to have a strong interest in signing Jack in addition to Golden State.
It wouldn't exactly be an in-house promotion, but handing the keys to the point guard spot back to Knight could be the move made in the backcourt. Showing promise in his first season, lockout shortened, Knight did not improve to a level where his success came consistently. There were great games, performances like his 20-point/10-assist game against Cleveland, but there were too many low output, high turnover games to not but the doubters to rest. After and during the season, it was clear that Knight was just as upset with his struggles as the fan base.
Knight has reportedly been working out feverishly so far this offseason, as he has always been a notorious gym rat since joining the Pistons. But many spoke on his improved strength and size, citing that Knight appeared at the draft introduction press conference looking much bigger and even needing a new, bigger jersey to wear. Improved strength may help him shoot the ball better in late-game situations when the legs are tired, but it won't improve his court vision. Still, don't rule out Knight returning to the point guard spot next to Caldwell-Pope at the two.
Bynum is a second-unit guard; something that wouldn't change if the Pistons were able to re-sign the unrestricted free agent when free agency begins. But if the Pistons are unable to sign Calderon, can't find a different viable starter in free agency, and go back to playing Brandon Knight at the one, then re-signing Bynum should become a priority. If Knight was given another shot at point guard and his struggles are as consistent as they were last season, head coach Maurice Cheeks is going to have to turn to someone on the Pistons bench to handle games. Nothing new, Bynum showed the ability to spark the offense and get his teammates involved (mainly Andre Drummond) last season. A solid second unit point guard is a "must" for a Pistons team infused with youth, and word is Bynum wants to be back in Detroit. Bring him back.
Another option that recently came off the free agent board was Memphis Grizzlies backup point guard Jerryd Bayless. Expected to opt-out of his player option with the Grizzlies to cash-in on a weak free agent class and his rising stock, Bayless picked up the player option and will be with Memphis for at least one more year.
Free agency begins on July 1st, and while Dumars has already said he's going to be targeting more wing scorers, the point guard spot has to be a priority. If the Pistons can fill out the rest of the roster with solid free agent signings, then the draft picks may start to look a whole lot better.
Tags: Basketball, Brandon Knight, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Jarrett Jack, Joe Dumars, Jose Calderon, NBA, Will Bynum
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