How new Pistons roster affects playing rotation
The Pistons made two big moves Friday that will impact their starting lineup: trading forward Marcus Morris to the Boston Celtics for Avery Bradley and renouncing the rights of restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The shakeup not only impacts their starting lineup, but also their playing rotation. Along with the signings of free agents Langston Galloway and Eric Moreland, along with first-round draft pick Luke Kennard, the Pistons’ playing rotation appears to be falling into place.
Here’s a projection for the Pistons’ rotation, as it currently stands, by position:
Reggie Jackson, Ish Smith, Langston Galloway
Most of the Pistons’ fortunes are hinging on Jackson returning healthy and playing somewhere near the levels of his 2015-16 season. Smith proved to be a suitable backup last season and adding Galloway, who can play at either position in the backcourt, looks more logical now as the third point guard.
Avery Bradley, Luke Kennard, Michael Gbinije
The position gets a big makeover, with Bradley stepping in for Caldwell-Pope and both Darrun Hilliard and Reggie Bullock gone. Bradley is an upgrade on both sides of the ball, hitting 39 percent on 3-pointers and more importantly, as one of the premier perimeter defenders in the NBA, earning all-defensive team honors in 2015-16.
Kennard, who was impressive in the Orlando Summer League and hit 48 percent on 3-pointers, could become the backup shooting guard but Gbinije’s future still remains unclear. His $1.3 million is partially guaranteed for next season — the Pistons have until July 15 to make a decision — and they could look in another direction.
Tobias Harris, Stanley Johnson
Harris played both forward spots last season, but with Morris gone, he can slide back to small forward, where he is more comfortable. Johnson was the primary backup to Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard last season, but with their additions, they can flex the forward positions and give Johnson more playing time in his more natural position, defending players his size.
Alternatively, the Pistons could choose to start Stanley Johnson at small forward and keep Harris at power forward, where he played significant time last season.
Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson
Leuer looks to be the best option here if they want to go bigger, but Harris also could stay at this position, where he saw significant playing time last year. Leuer seemed to wear down last year after playing significant playing time in a starting role, so if he stays as the sixth man, it could prove to help his endurance.
Ellenson looked good offensively in summer league, but still has more work to do on the defensive end. That might preclude him from having a chance to get the starting role, but he could see some increased court time so they can gauge what he has.
Andre Drummond, Boban Marjanovic, Eric Moreland
Drummond still is the anchor in the middle and with the departure of Aron Baynes, the Pistons will have more time for Boban Marjanovic, who was signed as a free agent last summer. He was the insurance policy in case Baynes opted out of his contract, which came to fruition. Now, he’ll get a chance to show whether the flashes he showed in his small playing time last year are enough to be excited about.
The Pistons have 12 players on the roster (13, with Gbinije) and would need to add one more to reach the league minimum. That could be a low-cost free agent or another higher-priced option. They are at about $105 million in payroll, which is above the salary cap, but about $14 million under the luxury tax, so they have some room to make some modest deals to continue to improve the roster depth.