Detroit Pistons: How Stan Van Gundy Masterfully Reshaped His Roster


When NBA Free Agency loomed weeks ago, there were plenty of names the Detroit Pistons wanted to pursue. Guys like Danny Green, DeMarre Carroll, and Draymond Green were all potential targets.

But the reality of the situation is that the Pistons just aren’t a desirable location for free agents, especially now. The Pistons haven’t made the playoffs for years and they just cut Josh Smith in the past season.

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As a result, both Greens re-signed with their current teams and Carroll went on to sign a mammoth contract with the Toronto Raptors. Other free agents were beginning to sign with other teams, leaving the Pistons with less-than-ideal options.

As the Pistons’ hopes began to dwindle the fans all looked on helplessly. While the move for Ersan Ilyasova earlier was nifty, what could Team President/Head Coach Stan Van Gundy do now?

The Small Forward position was just the lone 19-year-old in Stanley Johnson and… Cartier Martin?

The Pistons had plenty of cap space, just no player to use it on. Coupled with the salary cap expected to boom in the next few years, the Pistons were caught in a sticky situation.

There was a general sense in the NBA that if you paid the max now, then the player you signed would be a bargain just a few years down the road.

And that’s right, too. That’s partly the reason the Pistons re-signed Reggie Jackson to a 5-year, $80 million contract.

But the Pistons just seemed to bluntly be out of luck. The free agent market was dry and all this cap space was available with no free agents that were desirable.

That’s why when news broke out the Pistons traded for Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, and Danny Granger from the Phoenix Suns all for a mere 2020 second round pick it was purely amazing.

Obviously, Morris was the centerpiece of the trade as he can slide in at both small forward and power forward. Coupled with him being on an extremely affordable 4-year, $20 million contract, it looked like Van Gundy pulled off a great trade.

While Bullock and Granger seem to both be fillers to clear cap space for the Suns’ attempt at LaMarcus Aldridge, they both fill some type of value.

Bullock will be another guy vying for a roster spot and gives some competition to guys like Martin and Darrun Hilliard.

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Grade the trade: Pistons land Hornets' veteran in proposed deal
Grade the trade: Pistons land Hornets' veteran in proposed deal /


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  • While it’s looking likely that Granger will be waived, he can be a veteran presence to a team full of youngsters.

    But all in all, this was a brilliant move by both Van Gundy and General Manager Jeff Bower. Nobody ever gives the GM credit because of Van Gundy’s president role, but a few of the moves he’s made so far has looked so good.

    Trades like Tony Mitchell for Anthony Tolliver are rarely talked about, but still add layers of talent to a team in need of any it can get.

    The fact though that Morris is a cheap asset on this team is huge. He’s pretty versatile and can man small forward until Johnson is ready. After all, he was the third-youngest player in the 2015 NBA draft and has tons of potential.

    Van Gundy has slowly traded away any player that he doesn’t need for players that fit his system. Comparing this team to the one in 2013 just two years ago is like night and day.

    He’s traded away tons of players like Mitchell, Jonas Jerebko, Gigi Datome, and more. In return, he’s established a team identity that he’s slowly working toward.

    This team has an extremely young core and Van Gundy’s just trying to work with that. Guys like Jackson, Andre Drummond, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are only going to get better with time.

    While fans may not like Morris because of his attitude, it could definitely add a new element to this Pistons team. A fiery guy that stands up for his teammates can be extremely beneficial.

    It is absolutely a double-edge sword though. If he were to go on and do stupid things, one of the leaders of the team will have to keep him in check.

    If Brandon Jennings can stay healthy, he might be the guy. He might also be the guy that brings this whole Pistons team together if he sees extended playing time. Coming off the bench as a sixth man, he could really gel with the second unit.

    Before his gruesome injury last year, Jennings was putting it all together for a career-best season. He’s another guy that adds some intrigue to this team.

    Looking at it though, there’s no doubting that Van Gundy’s fingerprints are all over this team. Now it’s just time to see what he does with all this young talent.

    Now, your thoughts. How do you view Van Gundy’s moves this off-season? Good? Bad? Terrible? Do you think the Pistons will make the playoffs in the 2015-2016 NBA campaign? For now, time will tell for the Pistons and their fans.

    Next: Detroit Pistons: Top Moments from 2014-2015

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