Pistons will move to keep Greg Monroe, add shooting

Gregory Shamus

After a year at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Detroit has a new head coach and GM and is looking to add three-point shooting to get its offense back on track. Priority No. 1, though, is restricted free agent Greg Monroe.

It was a letdown year in Detroit, as the Pistons went 29-53 and struggled in just about every aspect of the game, save for rebounding.

Despite that, Detroit was surprisingly interesting to watch for periods of time. Young big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were the shining stars in Motor City and grabbed every rebound that came near them. Brandon Jennings showed he was still a legitimate threat to drive the ball, though his defense and passing were problems. But a lack of three-point shooting and Josh Smith's major struggles eventually doomed any hope for efficiency in the Pistons offense.

This offseason has already landed Detroit Stan Van Gundy as its new head coach and president of basketball operations, a win for a franchise that's been down in the dumps for some time. Bringing back their young players while adding shooting and defensive prowess will be a top priority heading into 2014-15. Monroe is a restricted free agent and deciding on his price and future will be an interesting first decision for Van Gundy.

The assets

Picks: No. 38
Free agents: Charlie Villanueva (UFA) Rodney Stuckey (UFA) Jonas Jerebko (player option) Chauncey Billups (team option) Greg Monroe (restricted free agent)
Cap space: $24.4 million

Depth chart

PG: Brandon Jennings, Will Bynum, Peyton Silva

SG: Kyle Singler, Rodney Stuckey (UFA), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Chauncey Billups (TO)

SF: Josh Smith, Luigi Datome

PF: Greg Monroe (RFA), Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva (UFA), Tony Mitchell

C: Andre Drummond, Josh Harrelson

Team needs

Detroit suffered from a lack of three-point shooting last season, finishing second-to-last in the NBA in percentage at 32.1 percent. The quartet of Jennings, Josh Smith, Monroe and Drummond worked only in spurts last season and needs balance. Jennings can get to the rim with the big bodies setting screens for him, but when teams were able to scheme for him and collapse on the paint, the Pistons suffered greatly. Getting a shooter, whether through the draft or trade, has to be the priority for them.

Defensively, Detroit relied on Kyle Singler and Smith on the wing, which isn't a great combination. Smith is often overmatched in foot speed and Singler is still a work in progress. Adding a classic 3 and D wing player could take care of both needs in one fell swoop.

Finally, as the Pistons have expiring UFAs they are unlikely to pick up, fortifying their bench will be their final need with the likely exit of Chauncey Billups and Charlie Villanueva. Someone like Jodie Meeks might fit perfectly in Detroit.

Potential targets

The Pistons say they have made Monroe their top priority for this offseason. Detroit's big man duo of Monroe and Drummond ate up the boards last season, where the Pistons ranked third in total rebounds per game. At just 24 years old, Monroe is a blossoming offensive talent that Detroit can't let slip away, even if Smith returns next year.

Getting players to fill the shooting guard and small forward roles is next. The Pistons are reportedly not looking to make a big splash in free agency, and could look at players like Anthony Morrow, P.J. Tucker and Thabo Sefolosha, among others.

That's not to say they couldn't go big in a trade and land another starter. After his career year in Orlando, former Piston Arron Afflalo is the perfect fit for Detroit as a lockdown defender and good three-point shooter. The Magic have reportedly offered Afflalo and a pick to Cleveland in exchange for the No. 1 pick, but there hasn't been any movement from the Cavaliers yet. Perhaps the Pistons could swoop in at the last minute and snatch him up.

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