New Faces, New Places: Jodie Meeks Signs With Detroit Pistons

Apr 8, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks (10) acknowledges Steve Nash (not pictured) after Meeks scored on assist by Nash to pass Mark Jackson (not pictured) to move into third on the all-time NBA assist list in the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Player: Jodie Meeks

The Team: Detroit Pistons

The Contract: 3 years, $19.5 million

How does it affect the cap situation?

Per, Detroit entered July 1 with only $39,677,875 in previous salary commitments after waiving Chauncey Billups on the eve of free agency. Add in a $507,336 cap hold for an incomplete roster charge and the Pistons had a maximum of $23,014,789 in cap space before factoring in free-agent cap holds.

At the moment, per, the Pistons have three cap holds sucking up more than $35 million in cap space: Charlie Villanueva ($12,870,000), Rodney Stuckey ($12,750,000) and Greg Monroe ($10,216,135). Though Detroit is likely to renounce Villanueva and Stuckey on July 10, Monroe’s cap hold will remain until he either re-signs with Detroit or signs an offer sheet with another team.

Before the Meeks deal, Detroit was set to have $13,305,990 in cap space (with Monroe’s cap hold factored in), based on the projected salary-cap threshold of $63.2 million. Though the exact terms of Meeks’ deal remain uncertain, it’s safe to assume his 2014-15 salary will begin around $6 million.

Therefore, until the Pistons settle the Monroe situation, they’ll have roughly $7.3 million of cap space remaining. (And that’s before factoring in the deal for Cartier Martin, who also reportedly signed a one-year deal with Detroit, per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. The terms of that contract are unclear.)

How does it affect the luxury tax?

At the moment, it has no impact. Though the Pistons are currently hovering around the projected luxury-tax threshold of $77 million, that will change once they renounce the rights to Villanueva and Stuckey. Signing Monroe to a max contract would wipe out just about all of their available cap space, but going over the cap would allow them to use the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception and bi-annual exception with no fear of exceeding the tax threshold.

The only way this deal could come back to haunt the Pistons—at least when it comes to luxury-tax considerations—is if they ink another free agent before re-signing Monroe to a maximum contract. They should be able to stay just under the luxury-tax line even if they use the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception and bi-annual exception in that situation, but it could make future years somewhat dicey, especially with Andre Drummond eligible for an extension following the 2014-15 season.

What’s next?

Now that they’ve begun to address their glaring need for shooting, the Pistons must sort out their frontcourt situation. Ideally, they’d find a taker for Josh Smith—calling Vivek Ranadive on Line 1—which should eliminate any hesitation about signing Monroe to a max deal.

In all likelihood, however, they’re going to be stuck with Smith when making the final call on Monroe. Allowing an offensively gifted 24-year-old to walk for nothing isn’t an easy pill for any team to swallow, so the Pistons will likely attempt to orchestrate a sign-and-trade if another squad makes an offer to Monroe which they’re unwilling to match. (Teams can’t sign-and-trade restricted free agents who have signed offer sheets, so the Pistons would be forced to pull the trigger before he officially signed with another squad.)

Beyond Monroe, expect the Pistons to continue adding shooters on the cheap. Detroit ranked 29th in three-point shooting percentage last season, which contributed to the squad’s offensive struggles. Guys like MarShon Brooks, James Anderson and Anthony Morrow could be on the radar.