The Pistons like what veteran forward Corey Maggette adds to their roster. What they value even more is what he subtracts.
Financial considerations motivated the acquisition of Maggette from Charlotte in late June. Detroit traded its highest-paid player, Ben Gordon, who had two years and $25.6 million remaining on his contract. The Pistons had to throw in a future first-rounder to sweeten the pot. They got back Maggette, who has played for five different teams, and his expiring contract.
When Maggette's $10.9 million comes off their books next summer, the Pistons will drop below $35 million in salary commitments for 2013-14. That will make them major players in the free agent and trade markets next season along with giving them ample room to sign Greg Monroe to a long-term extension.
In the short term, the Pistons lead the league in 32-year-old small forwards. Maggette and starter Tayshaun Prince are the same age and will likely share the position, though the team would also like to find playing time for poised and versatile rookie Kyle Singler.
Maggette, who could also see time at shooting guard, projects as the featured scorer on the second unit. His ability to drive to the basket and draw fouls makes him a better fit in coach Lawrence Frank's offensive scheme, compared to the spot shooting of Gordon. Maggette has averaged 6.9 free throw attempts in his career, and his aggressive style will get the Pistons into the bonus earlier in quarters.
"A big asset of mine is being able to get to the foul line," he said. "What's important for me is to continually improve on my outside shooting, which will allow me to take away from a lot of contact."
Like many players his age, Maggette has battled nagging injuries in recent seasons. He was limited to 32 games with the woeful Bobcats during the lockout-shortened season because of knee and Achilles tendon problems. He has been working rigorously with Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander this offseason to get in top shape for training camp.
Maggette, who has averaged 16.2 points in his career, understands why the Pistons wanted him, but he's hoping to play well enough to earn another contract, albeit at a reduced price.
"I have an opportunity to try to excel more, if I want to continue to play and have another opportunity here," he said. "Coming from Charlotte, where you had the worst record in the league, this is an improvement. I'm just looking forward to the challenge."
Even if Maggette's season doesn't go as planned, all of his numbers still add up for the Pistons.
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