Here’s the list of players rostered on in 2019, with how many minutes I think they should play per game, and what positions they can defend (all salary information is from HoopsHype):
Griffin 25 3-4
Drummond 24 4-5
Jackson 18 1-2
Leuer 20 3-4
Galloway 18 1-2
Kennard 14 2-3
Bruce Brown 24 1-4
Khryi Thomas 4 1-2
The only contract that I think isn’t worth it is Reggie Jackson’s. I think he’s worth around $9 mil per year, but is being paid $18 mil in 2019-2020. Since that’s $9 mil lost in value from the overpay, we can afford to get back an inferior player. Looking through the league, I think the Mavs’ might want him – they have plenty of cap space, and might want to get off Dwight Powell’s contract. Plus, they might be in contending mode because of Luka Doncic’s perceived success. So, assume Reggie Jackson gets traded for Dwight Powell’s $10 mil in 2019-2020 (assuming he picks up his player option, which I think there’s a 50% chance of happening). He’s worth around $9 mil a year as a floor spacer and athletic defender, so that’s a great deal, dealing away Jackson’s contract that has a value defecit of $9 mil, and getting a contract with a value defecit of only $1 mil.
Next, the draft. I think Nassir Little and Sekou Doumbaya will be gone by the time the Pistons pick around the 14th spot, and so target Darius Bazley. Bazley is underrated, so we can afford to trade back to around the 20th pick. Atlanta owns around the 19th pick and a mid second, so accept that deal, as the Pistons don’t own one and can use cheap quality talent (future draft picks information is provided by Pro Sports Transactions). Take Bazley with the Hawks pick, and then take Charles Bassey with the second round pick. Bazley is a Lamar Odom type athlete and point forward. Bassey is an old school center with his rebounding ability, who is swift enough to guard 4-5, and shows promise with his jump shot.
About $105 mil in salaries have now been allocated, so that leaves only $3 mil to spend in FA to stay under salary cap, $5 mil for the Mid Level Exception, and space for the veteran minimum. There’s five roster spots to fill. Plus, we have bird rights to re-sign guys.
The best affordable guy is Melo. Yep, Melo. He can shoot, grab boards, and defend when engaged. He can be gotten for the vet minimum.
Isaiah Thomas is undervalued. He can be gotten with the mid level exception.
At this point we need a backup point guard and a third string center. Ish Smith can be re-signed for around $7 mil a year for two years. Zaza Pachulia can be re-signed for one year and $5 mil for the year.
That’s 14 guys, and $117 mil spent. I’d stick with that, keeping roster flexibility to pick up a free agent if injuries become bad.
So, the lineup is:
PG Brown, Smith, Thomas
SG Thomas, Galloway, Kennard
SF Bazley, Melo
PF Griffin, Leuer, Powell
C Drummond, Bassey, Zaza
That’s a Finals contending team.
-Trade Reggie Jackson for Dwight Powell
-Trade back from 14th pick to get Darius Bazley in the late first and Charles Bassey in the second.
-Sign Isaiah Thomas with the MLE, sign Melo at veteran minimum, and re-sign Ish Smith and Zaza.