Jodie Meeks has been with the Lakers for the past two seasons. (Harry How / Getty Images)
The Pistons made their splash on the first day of free agency, agreeing to deals with Jodie Meeks and Cartier Martin, according to multiple sources.
Pistons coach/president Stan Van Gundy desperately needed shooters, and Meeks fills the bill, agreeing to a three-year, $19.5 million deal, first reported by Yahoo Sports. Deals can be agreed to in principle but can’t be signed until after the free-agent moratorium ends on July 10.
Meeks played last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging a career-high 15.7 points per game, and was one of the league's best 3-point shooters, shooting 40 percent on over five attempts per game.
The price tag on Meeks seemed to be steep, although Van Gundy intimated he would target several players who could take up a big chunk of the Pistons $13.5 million in cap space. Meeks apparently had been in negotiations with other teams on the first day of free agency, but the terms weren’t close to the Pistons’ financial package.
Meeks made $5.3 million in five seasons before this deal, with stints with the Lakers and Philadelphia. There were shots to be had with the Lakers being without Kobe Bryant for most of the season, and Meeks took advantage of his opportunities, although it remains to be seen if last year was an outlier or breakout year.
Comparable players like Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, who led the league in 3-point shooting, and Memphis’ Mike Miller, who was second in that category, make less annually than what Meeks signed for.
Most of his damage came from the 3-point line, particularly kickouts from double teams. Of his 164 3-pointers, 126 of them came as spot-up makes, as he shot 42 percent, according to Synergy Sports.
Assuming the Pistons hold onto Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond develops as a post-up option, Meeks will get his share of open shots, and the Pistons are banking on him to loosen up defenses to create room.
Whether that factored into the team’s thinking, and whether they overpaid for a specialized player can only be proven on the floor. With the increased value placed on shooting, and the rest of the league still figuring out what will happen with the bigger names, perhaps it’s a bit premature to measure if the Pistons truly overpaid for Meeks.
Meeks' previous career high was 10.5 points per game with Philadelphia in 2010-11, when he started 64 of 74 games with the 76ers.
Meeks fills a need, while Martin was likely added for depth purposes on the wings.
Martin, a 29-year old shooting guard-small forward, agreed to a one-year deal and a player option, according to a source. He spent the majority of his career in Washington, from 2009-13. He played in Atlanta and Chicago last season, and averaged 5.6 points.
The Pistons have interest in Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas as well, although they haven’t made an offer for the restricted free agent. Thomas, 24, averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists for the offensive-minded Kings, but Thomas appears to have interest in the Pistons — who still have Brandon Jennings on the books for another two years and Will Bynum entering the final year of his deal.
All three guards are barely 6-feet tall, potential defensive liabilities.
They still have to figure out Monroe’s situation, as he appears to have plenty of suitors, although none has actually offered a contract for he or the Pistons to mull over.
One fewer potential suitor was removed from the list Tuesday, as the Washington Wizards and veteran center Marcin Gortat agreed to a five-year, $60 million deal. The Wizards and Monroe seemed like an obvious match — at least to have a conversation — due to Monroe’s agent David Falk being a season-ticket holder at the Verizon Center, and Falk’s relationship with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.
According to ESPN, the Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers are among the teams testing how much the Pistons want Monroe.
The Pistons still control the process because Monroe is restricted, meaning they can match any offer sheet if Monroe signs something from another team.
Orlando’s trusted executive, Scott Perry, was the Pistons’ vice president when Monroe was drafted in 2010 and has observed the way Monroe has progressed.
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry is a former NBA player, and Falk was his agent. With Portland, Falk once got the Trail Blazers to sign Pacers center Roy Hibbert to a max contract sheet when Hibbert and the Pacers reached an impasse.
The Pacers matched the deal, choosing not to let Hibbert walk. Reportedly, the Trail Blazers are interested in a sign-and-trade, and Monroe could conceivably join the Blazers’ inside-outside duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard.
Other teams could be ready to pursue Monroe, but Van Gundy repeatedly stated he was ready and prepared for any scenario.
How the Pistons proceed will determine if his words were true.