Pistons keeping an eye out to bolster bench
Auburn Hills — It’s not quite the equivalent of digging through the bargain bin at a discount store, but trying to add a player after the NBA trade deadline can be difficult.
The Pistons, already active at the deadline in acquiring Tobias Harris, were looking to fill a big need, not just for this season, but moving forward into the long-term future in the rescinded deal with the Houston Rockets for Donatas Motiejunas.
When that trade fell through, they were left with a hole in the frontcourt; the injuries this week to forwards Stanley Johnson (shoulder) and Anthony Tolliver (knee) further depleted the depth on the bench.
But as coach Stan Van Gundy looks to the available players as the secondary market after the deadline, there doesn’t seem to be much there that suits the Pistons.
“So far, nothing on any of the guys who have been bought out or waived,” Van Gundy said Friday. “There hasn’t been anybody that we’ve seriously talked to.”
Joe Johnson reportedly agreed to terms with the Miami Heat on Friday and while players such as Andre Miller and Ty Lawson are appealing to some, they don’t necessarily fit the Pistons’ needs — at least right now.
“Where our real need is right now obviously is up front. It’s hard to say (whether we’re interested in guards) because you’d have to weigh quality,” Van Gundy said. “It depends. If you had a great wing option, that would outweigh certainly a mediocre big. Our need is more up front.”
The Pistons signed 6-foot-10 stretch forward Justin Harper from the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League to a 10-day contract this week to fill the open roster spot, but there’s no indication about what the long-term plan for that spot might be.
Along with Johnson, Miller and Lawson, Andrea Bargnani, Kevin Martin and DeJuan Blair also are available, but the Pistons would join a list of teams that would be courting their services.
Van Gundy indicated the Pistons wouldn’t have much money to offer either, probably the smaller of their mid-level exceptions, so other teams that are under the salary cap also could outbid them for any player they might covet.
“Some teams have money; there are teams that are under the cap and have money to offer. It all depends on what certain guys are looking for,” Van Gundy said. “If they’re looking for an additional payday, there’s places they can go to get it. If they’re looking to get to the best team, they can. They all have different goals in what they’re trying to do.”
The available players have not moved the needle for the Pistons to try to make a deal to bolster their bench, so Van Gundy might be content to stand pat with what he has, unless something fits the bill.
Tolliver, who suffered a sprained knee Sunday against the Pelicans, is wearing a knee brace and doing some light shooting work in practice, but isn’t close to returning to game action.
He was expected to be out 2-4 weeks initially and seems to be on that schedule.
Spencer Dinwiddie, who has been out because of an ankle injury since before the All-Star break, continues to wait for the swelling to subside before he does any workouts.
Van Gundy said that Dinwiddie’s injury may be a little worse than they originally thought, as he’s been off his feet and hasn’t participated in practice.
“I think he has a bone bruise in there, that’s the problem,” Van Gundy said. “It’s not just the sprain (the trainers) originally thought. My understanding is what’s holding him back is the bone bruise.”