The Pistons made a major splash at the start of this summer’s NBA free agency period with the signing of veteran combo forward Josh Smith. They didn’t stop there, however, as they’ve also reached agreements with reserve guard Will Bynum, rookie Luigi Datome from Italy and Pistons legendary guard Chauncey Billups.
No longer the player he once was, Billups is expected to play a mentor role for Pistons starting point guard Brandon Knight. Billups, however, could wind up starting at shooting guard as he did last season alongside Chris Paul with the L.A. Clippers. The more likely scenario, though, would be for Detroit to bring Billups off the bench in limited minutes. His contract is a two-year deal worth $5 million.
Bynum, like Billups, is re-signing with the Pistons for a two-year contract. His deal is worth $5.75 million, and he’ll also continue to be a backup point guard spelling Knight. Detroit values Bynum’s scoring punch off the bench.
Datome is perhaps the most intriguing prospect for the Pistons. He’s a 6’8” small forward known for his shooting and overall toughness. He went undrafted in 2009 but had been courted by several NBA teams before agreeing to come to Detroit. His deal is also for two years at $3.5 million total.
These signings will give the Pistons 17 players under contract. Because the NBA only allows a maximum of 15, Detroit will need to make some more moves. It’s likely the team will continue to shop reserves Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva in trade talk, or Villanueva could be waived via the amnesty clause.
With five players who were rookies last season to go along with four projected rookies this year, this is still a very young Pistons team. The organization needed to bring in some veteran leadership to the locker room, which is also why Rasheed Wallace has been brought back as an assistant coach under Maurice Cheeks. Wallace will specifically look to work with Detroit’s big men: Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Slava Kravtsov and rookie Tony Mitchell.
It's been a busy offseason already for the Pistons, and they've already accomplished most of what they wanted to do with the roster. They aren't done just yet, but they're generating enough buzz amongst fans to keep it entertaining this summer as we await further changes to the lineup.