The Detroit Pistons are nearing an agreement to re-sign free agent center Andre Drummond to a five-year maximum contract worth about $130 million, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The deal is expected to be finalized on Friday.
Four things to know when this deal is complete:
1. The Pistons' core is locked up
You have to applaud Detroit president and coach Stan Van Gundy. In 2014 he took over a mess of a team, and the only players remaining on the roster are Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Van Gundy has targeted athletic two-way players that fit well together, and he has them locked up for a while. Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris and Stanley Johnson are signed through 2019. Reggie Jackson is signed through 2020. Now Drummond, the centerpiece, is signed through 2021. All of these players are improving, too.
2. Is there risk here for Detroit?
Maybe. Drummond was the NBA's most imposing center at the beginning of last season, but he earned occasional criticism from Van Gundy for effort and body language as the year went on. There's no guarantee he'll ever fix his awful free-throw stroke, and that makes him a liability at the end of close games. He still looks like a better defender than he actually is. But...
3. There is much more upside than risk
Drummond hasn't even turned 23 yet. He averaged 16.2 points, 14.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals this past season. Athletically, there are few more impressive players in the NBA. Van Gundy helped Dwight Howard become one of the most dominant defenders in history, and Drummond has all of the tools that Howard did. He is easily the Pistons' biggest building block and they absolutely had to max him out. Even if he never becomes a player that you have to double-team in the post, he will remain a pick-and-roll monster and a double-double machine.
4. What's next for Detroit?
Van Gundy can afford to let this young group of players grow together, but he can also try to be aggressive in free agency. ESPN's Zach Lowe reported before free agency began that they were trying to secure a meeting with Al Horford. While addition like that might be a longshot, Detroit will surely still try to add talent, whether it's to tweak its core or simply get deeper. Of all the Eastern Conference playoff teams, though, the Pistons have the best chance of improving in the standings without making a major move.