Twenty-six year-old guard D.J. Augustin has signed a two-year,$6 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. The former No. 10 overall pick has had anything but a spotless career, but could be on the verge of a comeback after a successful season with the Chicago Bulls. Joining Augustin will be veteran forward Caron Butler, 34, who is set to make $4.5 million next season with the Pistons.
In the wake of LeBron James returning his talents to Cleveland, Chris Bosh choosing to stay in Miami and Carmelo Anthony re-signing with the Knicks, those left in Detroit were now in the spotlight to shine. With free agent Greg Monroe still in the balance, the Pistons had $13.5 million available to spend. Team president Stan Van Gundy has always searched for the most bang for his buck, so any considerations would most likely be players he could get for cheap.
Butler and Augustin’s deals fit the build for Detroit. The two will join Jodie Meeks as the Pistons’ key free agent signings for the summer. In this package, Detroit gains a shooting guard, Meeks, who shot around 40 percent from the three-point line last season, a point guard, Augustin, with similar three-point shooting abilities that will serve as a reliable backup for Brandon Jennings, and an experienced forward in Butler to help out should something happen to any of the team’s three big men.
None of these men are James or Bosh, but they will serve an important part of strengthening Detroit’s offense. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s less than spectacular rookie season, his importance to the team is questionable.
By bringing in Meeks, who is coming off the best season of his career with a career-high in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds, assists, steals and points-per-game, Van Gundy challenges Caldwell-Pope to improve. Already, his methods are working as Caldwell-Pope has been rampaging through the Summer League in an attempt to show he still deserves his position.
With so much attention from the previous season focused on the spacing issues with Detroit’s big men, Detroit’s guards performed poorly. The addition of Meeks and Augustin plus a fired-up Caldwell-Pope should make Detroit’s scoring abilities that much more frightening.
Meanwhile, in Van Gundy’s earlier press conferences, he mentioned a system featuring two of Detroit’s big men at a time. Most speculated Monroe and Andre Drummond would be the top two big men in Van Gundy’s system. Van Gundy also hinted that no one was sacred on the roster. If Monroe fails to re-sign, Van Gundy could move Butler up and play Smith as a power forward giving him options. For now, Monroe remains the missing piece to Detroit’s free agency puzzle.
Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.