Pistons might join chase for Horford
Orlando, Fla. — When the free-agency period begins just after midnight Friday, Pistons general manager Jeff Bower won’t be able to go bananas.
The salary cap, which exploded from $70 million last season to a projected $94 million this year, will send many general managers flocking to the mall like teenagers with a credit card. But the Pistons, with an estimated $15 million, have a short shopping list — a veteran backup point guard and a backup power forward.
Detroit shop on the high-end rack for a versatile big man like Atlanta’s Al Horford, but might get sticker shock from the bevy of bidders, who could push the price in excess of $25 million per season.
Although there is only one potential franchise player (Kevin Durant) who could move, there could be several under-the-radar moves that could help teams improve.
The Thunder, which was a few minutes from reaching the Finals, will make a push to keep Durant, especially after its draft-day trade of Serge Ibaka that improved its depth.
LeBron James is a free agent, but likely will be staying in Cleveland, as will some of the other big names — Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki.
While unrestricted free agents can make agreements beginning Friday, they can’t sign until the moratorium ends July 8. Restricted free agents can negotiate with other teams, but their team has the first right to match any offer.
Al Horford, Atlanta
Statistics: 82 games, 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds
The price tag might be too high for the Pistons to be a serious contender, but adding him would give them a boost in the East. If Horford’s offers get to the max level, the Pistons would have to do some roster upheaval, but it could be worth it.
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans
Statistics: 66 games, 17 points, 6 rebounds
Long-rumored to be the prototypical stretch power forward for Stan Van Gundy’s offense, Anderson would be a game-changer. But what would he add on defense? Plus, the price tag could be too high.
D.J. Augustin Denver
Statistics: 62 games, 7.5 points, 3.2 assists
He could be a low-cost option at backup point guard ($3 million) after averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 assists — and shooting 41 percent on 3pointers. Augustin was a solid addition in 54 games with the Pistons in 2014-15 before the Reggie Jackson trade.
Matthew Dellavedova, Cleveland
Statistics: 7.5 points, 4.4 assists The point guard is a restricted free agent and was a critical part of the title run, but the Cavaliers likely wouldn’t match an offer. The Pistons could use his dogged defense, and he shoots 41 percent on 3-pointers and has a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Brandon Jennings, Orlando
Statistics: 48 games, 6.9 points, 3.6 assists
After the Pistons dealt him at the trade deadline, he still wasn’t 100 percent (Achilles). With a full summer to get healthy, Jennings would cost more than other options but knows the system and was a spark at the point before the trade.