Pistons will sign Boban Marjanovic to offer sheet

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Although endurance might not be his biggest asset, Boban Marjanovic has proven effective in shorter stints on the court.

The Pistons aren’t done with free agency this year after all.

After agreeing to terms with point guard Ish Smith and stretch forward Jon Leuer within the past week, they’re also working on making a big addition to their frontcourt.

The Pistons are signing restricted free agent Boban Marjanovic to an offer sheet for three years, $21 million, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to The Detroit News.

The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Because Marjanovic, 27, is a restricted free agent, the Spurs have three days to match the Pistons’ offer but Stein downplays that possibility.

“The Spurs, league sources say, are resigned to losing fan favorite Boban Marjanovic, unable to match Detroit's offer sheet,” Stein wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Marjanovic, at 7-foot-3, 290 pounds, will be the Pistons’ third center next season behind Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes. But Baynes, who has a player option on the final year of his contract in 2017-18, almost assuredly will opt out to pursue a more lucrative deal, with the expanding salary cap.

If the Spurs don’t match the offer and the Pistons get Marjanovic, they would be over the cap and wouldn’t have the necessary cap room available — they would only have early-Bird rights — to bring back Baynes at a larger salary in that market.

By signing Marjanovic now, the Pistons are providing insurance in case Baynes decides to leave, but also filling the hole with their backup center for the following two years.

The Pistons have about $5.5 million in remaining cap space after their deals with Smith and Leuer but could look to structure Marjanovic’s deal such that he would fit under the cap this year and next year, then get the larger remainder (more than $9 million) in the third year of the contract.

Pistons rookie Ellenson showing 3-point acumen

To make room for Marjanovic, the Pistons will have to renounce their rights to three reserves: veteran point guard Steve Blake, backup center Joel Anthony and newly-acquired big man Cameron Bairstow, whom they got last month in a trade with the Bulls for Spencer Dinwiddie.

After the Pistons are done with their other free-agent business — Smith’s deal is for three years, $18 million and Leuer’s for a reported four years, $42 million – they’ll sign Drummond to a max contract, worth about $125 million over five years. They have Drummond’s full Bird rights, so they could go over the salary cap to re-sign him.

Marjanovic averaged 5.5 points and 3.6 rebounds last season in 54 games for the Spurs last season. Playing about 10 minutes per game, he shot 60 percent from the field and 76 percent on free throws.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter @detnewsRodBeard