Pistons set sights on trio of perimeter free agents
AUBURN HILLS -- The Detroit Pistons plan to talk to a number of players during the free agency period, which began Tuesday.
However, there are three who appear to be higher on Detroit's radar than others.
The Pistons are expected to spend the early part of free agency focused on landing one of the following players: James Jones of Portland; C.J. Miles of Utah or Mickael Pietrus of Golden State.
Players can commit to a team now, but can't sign a contract until July 9.
All three are believed to be on similar footing in the eyes of the Pistons.
Joe Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations, declined to comment on which players the Pistons would target this summer.
However, all three of the aforementioned players have many of the traits Dumars seeks in free agents:
• All three are fairly young. Jones is the oldest at 27.
• All three have shown flashes of being really good players, but too many injuries (Jones) or too many players ahead of them on the depth chart (Miles and Pietrus) led to that promise remaining somewhat unfulfilled.
"This is a free agent class for us that we would have to specifically target somebody at the right price, the right amount of years," Dumars said in interview earlier this week. "That's about how we're going to approach it."
Detroit enters free agency looking to use a good chunk of its mid-level exception, which is expected to be worth close to $6 million. All three players are likely to receive offers that start at less than $6 million per season.
And what makes this trio of potential Pistons so unique is that they each bring a different strength to the floor.
Jones is the best 3-point shooter, Pietrus is the best athlete while Miles is probably the best all-around player.
Not surprisingly, the Pistons will have competition from other NBA teams for all three.
Jones said earlier that despite being able to sign with any team, Portland remains a possibility as well.
"I would love to return (to Portland)," Jones told The Oregonian shortly after becoming a free agent last week. "But it would have to be under circumstances that are scripted perfectly. And that's left to be seen."
Acquiring Miles, one of the last players to jump to the NBA straight from high school, won't be quite as easy.
Earlier this week, the Jazz made a qualifying offer to Miles, making him a restricted free agent. Utah can match any offer Miles gets.
It's unclear if Utah plans to match an offer for Miles because it already has a logjam along the perimeter. But letting the 21-year-old go and getting nothing in return isn't something the Jazz appear to be comfortable with, either.
"You don't just throw away your future because of numbers," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Pietrus began last season as a starter in Golden State, but the team's early struggles led to a lineup change that had him once again coming off the bench. His best days as an NBA player have come as a valued reserve. In the last three seasons, Pietrus has been one of the NBA's top scoring backups at 9.3 points per game.
If Pietrus were to sign with Detroit, he would assume a similar role as a backup who could play multiple perimeter positions.