At the trade deadline, the Pistons tried to make the best of a bad situation, dealing both Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson, their two top small forwards.
Each was on an expiring contract and the Pistons got some assets, in Svi Mykhailiuk, Thon Maker and a second-round draft pick.
The trade depleted their roster of bigger wing players, leaving rookie Bruce Brown, at 6-foot-5, to defend bigger forwards for the remainder of the regular season and to do his best in the playoffs against the Bucks’ Khris Middleton, in the playoffs.
At times, it seemed that the Pistons had nine shooting guards and no small forwards on the roster. Glenn Robinson III was the exception, but the team has an option for $4.3 million on the final year of his contract, so he could be gone as well.
Along with point guard, the wing position is the biggest area of need for the Pistons in the offseason. They’ll look at several options for wing help, including their No. 15 pick in the draft.
Free agency also is an option, but the Pistons will be limited in what they can offer, with just the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (about $9.2 million) and the biannual exception (about $3.6 million). Either can be divided among multiple players, which could help the Pistons address different positions of need.
Wayne Ellington, who was signed midseason after a buyout, will be an unrestricted free agent and depending on the decision with Robinson, they may have multiple wing spots to fill, possibly with the 6-8 Mykhailiuk, if he develops this summer.
It’s highly unlikely the Pistons will be able to bid on the likes of Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler, but they can take a swipe at some of the second- and third-tier options at wing. Here’s a look at some of the wing players they could consider in free agency (listed in alphabetical order), which begins July 1:
Trevor Ariza, age 33
He has a lot of mileage but still has some value, posting 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists, while hitting 33 percent on 3-pointers with the Suns and Wizards. Ariza could be looking to join a true contender, leaning toward spending his last few years chasing a championship ring.
He’s a good defender and would help in a specific role. He’d fit the bill as a starter, but his contract numbers might be way out of the Pistons’ bidding range.
► 2018-19 salary: $15 million
Reggie Bullock, 28
Don’t discount the odds of a reunion with Bullock, but he likely won’t give the Pistons a discount. He was grateful for a second opportunity after Stan Van Gundy threw him a lifeline two years ago, but he’ll have the negotiating leverage this time. Bullock had a starting role with the Pistons before the trade and his scoring dropped from 12.1 to 9.3 points.
The Pistons liked his work ethic and he was a good locker room presence who could be a high priority if he doesn’t get significantly better offers on the open market.
► 2018-19 salary: $2.5 million
Danny Green, 31
He was the other player in the Raptors’ big deal for Kawhi Leonard, but Green had a resurgent season, with 10.3 points and four rebounds in 80 games. He also shot a career-best 46 percent on 3-pointers and slid into a nice role.
Green also likely would be looking to a better contender, after playing eight seasons with the Spurs. He could be an ideal starter who needs about eight shots per game and would play tough defense. That’s the type of player they need, but they might covet a younger player more.
► 2018-19 salary: $10 million
Rodney Hood, 26
At first glance, he seems to check all of the boxes the Pistons would want: 6-foot-8, young and coming off a reasonable contract. He’s bounced around a bit in his five seasons — Jazz, Cavaliers and Trail Blazers — but he’s showing his value with Portland in the playoffs. Those performances could drive up his contract requirements in the offeseason.
He’s an adept scorer and has hit 37 percent on 3-pointers in his career. He’ll be sought in free agency, so the Pistons may have to hope the dust settles and the price ends up being something reasonable.
► 2018-19 salary: $3.5 million
Marcus Morris, 29
The Pistons dreaded traded Morris in the Avery Bradley deal before last season and they’re seeing how the Celtics got the better end of it. Morris’ contract was one of the best bargains in the league, but he’ll likely get a handsome raise in free agency.
He fits all the things the Pistons need now at small forward and he can also flex to power forward and defend both positions well.
► 2018-19 salary: $5.3 million
Terrence Ross, 28
Coach Dwane Casey speaks glowingly of Ross, who posted some nice numbers: 15.1 points and 3.5 rebounds, with 38 percent on 3-pointers, this season. Ross played with the Raptors for his first 4½ seasons and is an athletic wing who can score inside or outside and would give the Pistons a boost at the position.
He hasn’t been a regular starter since 2014-15 but if he’ll take a little bit less, he could reunite with Casey and potentially get a starting spot as well.
► 2018-19 salary: $10.5 million
Garrett Temple, 32
He had some decent numbers (7.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 34 percent on 3-pointers) and although he’s older than most of the potential wing targets, he could be where the Pistons end up having to settle because of the market and the cost of the better options.
Temple played 75 games this season and has bounced around a bit. He has some starting experience, but it’s unclear whether he’d be the ideal fit for the Pistons
► 2018-19 salary: $8 million