Pistons free agent predictions: Will Detroit bring back Marvin Bagley III, Luka Garza, Hamidou Diallo and others?

If the Pistons are going to turn a corner next season, they’ll have to make the right decisions on some of their own.

As things stand right now, Detroit has 12 players under contract next season, but that includes multiple team and player options. The likes of Marvin BagleyIII, Luka Garza and Rodney McGruder enter this offseason as free agents, the latter two being unrestricted. Detroit likely will have a top-six pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and the most cap space to play with in free agency. It doesn’t feel like there will be significant roster turnover — nothing like general manager Troy Weaver’s first year at the helm, at least — but there will be new faces in and old ones out.

Weaver told the media before the season ended that the franchise is still currently in the stage of acquiring talent as it pertains to its “restoration.” The Pistons have the means to do that this offseason.

Here, I’m going to look at all of Detroit’s free agents and predict whether or not they’ll come back next season.

Marvin BagleyIII

Contract status: Restricted free agent

odds he returns: 70-80%

Projected contract range: 3 years/$21-24 million

In regards to retaining in-house talent, Bagley will be the team’s top priority. The former No. 2 pick came to Detroit just before the trade deadline and spent the last few months of the season attempting to change the narrative of his young career from him. The early returns are good, as the 23-year-old averaged 14.6 points and 6.8 rebounds with a true-shooting percentage of 58.5 in 18 games with the Pistons. Bagley also, from all accounts, was a good teammate and very coachable.

Bagley has been on Weaver’s radar since he became the general manager, and Weaver finally pulled the trigger on a deal once it was evident that Detroit was in dire need of an athletic big man to act as a lob threat for young guards Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes. The Pistons still need that prototype of player going into next season, and the fact that Bagley already is a polished scorer and has familiarity with the team makes the decision easier to bring him back. That last part is why Detroit traded for Bagley midseason rather than trying to sign him this offseason.

Per sources, the Pistons want to sign Bagley to a multiyear deal. They don’t just want him locked up for a season. A three-year deal is what Detroit would like to get done. This is really where the only hurdle could present itself. Bagley, given that he is young and talented offensively, could be more inclined to seek a shorter deal in order to test the open market sooner and grab a bigger payday, assuming all goes well over the next season or two. However, Bagley likes the Pistons, and the Pistons like him, so it feels like a three-year deal with a player option on the third could be a good middle ground for both sides.

It’s possible that Bagley has other fans in free agency, especially now that other teams have gotten a brief glance at what he looks like away from Sacramento. Still, I do not anticipate any team bidding Detroit up too high for his services from him.

Hamidou Diallo

Contract status: Team option, $5.2 million

odds he returns: 100%


Photo of Hamidou Diallo: Nic Antaya / Getty Images

Before his finger was mangled in early March, the 23-year-old Diallo was playing some good basketball. He missed the final month of the season due to surgery.

Diallo will make only $5.2 million next season, and that’s a small price to pay for a young, athletic wing who moves well without the ball and efficiently puts the ball in the basket when around the rim (believe it or not, the Pistons don’ t have a ton of those guys on the perimeter). Diallo likely will come off the bench next season, but he’s proved that he can start in a pinch. It’s important to have energy guys like him. There’s potential for him to be a really good defender. And as I’ve said before, the jump shot is really the only reason he’s not a bona fide starter.

The only way Diallo isn’t back next season is if the Pistons execute a trade. Diallo and Frank Jackson (who we’ll talk about later) combine to make $8.5 million next season, and those two could be pretty enticing as add-ons in a potential Jerami Grant trade if Detroit ever did decide to make a swing-for-the-fences move. Together, all three packaged in a deal would earn just under $30 million in salary.

So, yeah, there’s really no reason not to exercise Diallo’s team option for one reason or the other.

Carsen Edwards

Contract status: Team option, $1.8 million

odds he returns: 0-30%

Edwards, who was signed very late in the season, signed a two-year deal that has trigger dates on his second season. Even though he can score the ball, I don’t see him as more than a third or fourth point guard on this roster. In the end, it doesn’t make sense for Detroit to use a roster spot on him.

Now, I could see Edwards go into training camp and through the preseason with the Pistons, and maybe, just maybe, the franchise elects to keep him around over they know lee, who is guaranteed just $1.75 million next season. But ultimately, I think Edwards gets cut by the final time roster decisions get made.

Luka Garza

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

Odds he returns: 30%

Projected contract range: minimum deal

Assuming Detroit brings back Bagley and keeps its second-round pick this season, I don’t see where bringing back Garza makes a ton of sense. Maybe they find room for him on a two-way deal, and my guess is that he’ll be with the Pistons for training camp, but I don’t see the second-round pick from 2021 starting the season on a standard contract.

Garza has the potential to space the floor, and he works his tail off. However, his athletic limitations and slow feet were regularly on display in limited minutes. It’s just hard to see a path for him as a legitimate NBA big.

Frank Jackson

Contract status: Team option, $3.15 million

Odds he returns: 100%

Jackson had a weird season. He started the year shooting the ball poorly, sustained an ankle injury, then returned to shoot and score the ball very well. After all that, he suffered a back injury that sidelined him for a while.

The potential is there for Jackson to add a legitimate scoring punch off the bench. The 23-year-old had 10 games this season with 15-plus points, but he missed close to 30 games with various injuries. Jackson can shoot the 3-ball and get to the rim. He’s a scorer, and every team needs a get-hot-quick guy off the bench. Jackson is young and fits the Pistons’ timeline, and he’s also one of the better athletes on the team.

Like I said about Diallo, Jackson’s team option certainly will get picked up for one reason or another.

Cory Joseph

Contract status: Player option, $5.15 million

Odds he returns: 100%

We’ll keep this one short and sweet: I’d be stunned if Joseph doesn’t pick up this option. I’m not sure that the 30-year-old will get this money over one season elsewhere. If I were him, I’d grab this $5 million and then sign whatever deal comes my way next summer. Whatever that deal is likely won’t pay him $5 million for a year’s worth of work.

Maybe the veteran is interested in longer-term security, even if it’s at a lower annual price, but he appears to like his situation and role in Detroit.

Rodney McGruder

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

Odds he returns: 50%

Projected contract range: vet minimum

The 30-year-old had a pretty good year. He played sparingly but ended up shooting 39.7 percent from 3 and had a few scoring outbursts. McGruder is beloved by his teammates, and that does come with value.

I think McGruder will return if he wants to. I think the door will always be open. He has an elite skill and has been a great veteran mentor for this young team. However, it is possible that McGruder wants a bigger role — even if that means just playing more regularly — or he wants to be on a contender at this point in his career. I’m sure a team or two would have interest in him for the reasons I previously mentioned.

I’m not sure McGruder plays a lot if he’s in Detroit next season. But Weaver and head coach Dwane Casey do value veteran leadership, and they’ve both said that quality will always be part of their rosters. McGruder’s return will depend on what else is out there for him. The Pistons would welcome him back.

(Top photo of Marvin Bagley III: Raj Mehta / USA Today)

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