Aron Baynes has not informed the Detroit Pistons he intends to exercise an option in his contract and become a free agent at season’s end, but it would be hardly a surprise to Stan Van Gundy. “Hardly a surprise,” Van Gundy, the Pistons’ president-coach, said Thursday.
"Aron Baynes is a very good player," Van Gundy said. "I shouldn't be saying anything to increase his value, but he's a very good player and if he and his agents look around at what some of those guys got who were backups -- (Bismack) Biyombo, (Ian) Mahinmi, guys like that -- and what they signed contracts for, more than double what Aron's making, it's not too hard to figure out that the guy is probably going to opt out and take his chances in the open market. He's a highly productive guy at a very reasonable salary, so that doesn't surprise at all."
Citing unnamed sources, Basketball Insiders published a story Wednesday afternoon saying the Pistons were gauging interest in backup centers Baynes and Boban Marjanovic, adding that Baynes will decline his player option for next season. Baynes told the Free Press after Wednesday night’s 118-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans that no decision has been made. He responded with a laugh when asked about the report. “I don’t know about that,” Baynes said. “I’m just focused on the season right now. That’s all I’m doing, just playing basketball. I have an agent. That’s the unfortunate side of basketball, but I let him do his thing. I’m just out there trying to do mine.”
You haven’t made a decision? “I definitely haven’t thought about anything yet,” he said. “It’s not even All-Star break. There’s a long way left in this season. I’m just trying to go out there and make the most of it.”
However, another player in a contract season may not return to the Pistons. “Aron [Baynes] is a really good player and I said this after the last game, we’re going to be in a difficult situation by the [CBA] rules of trying to re-sign him next summer,” Van Gundy said. “I’m supposed to downplay him, not play him up and tell you, ‘You know, that guy’s a pretty solid backup,’ but the bottom line is he’s a starting-caliber NBA center who we’re very lucky to have as a backup.”
Everything the Pistons have come to love about Baynes is what will compel competitors to steal him away next July. It’s all due to an NBA collective bargaining agreement arcana. Baynes’ side negotiated an opt-out clause following the 2016-17 season when he signed as a free agent with the Pistons in July 2015. Holding Baynes’ rights for two seasons gives the Pistons partial Bird rights – but not full Bird rights. And that difference limits them to offering Baynes – on the slam-dunk assumption that he’ll exercise his contract option – 175 percent of his 2016-17 salary, reportedly $6.5 million, or an offer no greater than $11.375 million for next year.
It doesn’t matter if the Pistons will or won’t have cap space – they won’t – so it’s not a matter of unloading other contracts to keep Baynes. They’re capped at what they can offer and Van Gundy is 99.9 percent certain he’ll get offers significantly above what they can give him. “We were criticized because we paid him too much money and now he’ll make about triple next summer and we won’t be able to re-sign him,” Van Gundy said earlier this week in New York. “Right now we could trade him to 29 teams in about five seconds at what he’s making. I don’t think we made too bad a deal.”
Aaron McMann: Certaines are few and far between in sports, particularly basketball, but barring injury or some unforeseen circumstance that I can't come up with at this time, Aron Baynes will opt out of his contract over the summer. He would be a fool not to. Baynes signed a three-year, $20 million contract with the Pistons two summers ago, good money for a backup center. But that was before the salary cap explosion last summer, with another increase coming next, and backup big men were pulling in contracts for $15-18 million a season. In fact, Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy said pregame Wednesday in New York Baynes could command as much as $18 million. If that's the case, the Pistons simply cannot afford him.
Baynes will go back to his normal position in the post when he comes to training camp this month. It could be his last season with the Pistons. He’s under contract to make $6.5 million this year and has an early termination option on his contract for 2017-18. Because the Pistons might not have enough money to keep the veteran center if he were to exercise his option and become a free agent, the team went out and signed 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic as insurance.
“We’re limited in what we can do with Aron next year,” Van Gundy said. “Two things happen: No.1, by rule, if Aron does opt out, we’re limited in how much we can offer him, by rule, because he leaves in two years. There’s only a certain percentage of his salary we’re allowed to offer him, and it comes in under $12 million a year. If you look at where the prices on big guys went this year on guys like Bismack Biyombo and Ian Mahinmi, that’s far beyond that $12 million. There could be a possible scenario where we wouldn’t be able to compete to keep him.
It was motivated in large measure by their look ahead to 2017 when they (a) expect Baynes to opt out, (b) question their ability to match a similarly aggressive offer sheet and (c) expect a thin crop of free-agent centers to replace Baynes, if it comes to that. “We’ve probably got more true centers than anybody in a league that’s going away from true centers, but looking at Aron’s situation – and the part that people understand is he’ll opt out, probably, based on the salaries we saw this year – and the part they don’t understand is if he opts out and because he’s only been here two years, we’re limited in how far we can go in our offer. It wasn’t a matter of you don’t want to pay him or you don’t think he’s worth it. It’s that we’re limited.”
August 17, 2022 | 8:47 pm EDT Update
Tommy Beer: Stephen A Smith on SiriumXM w/ @Rick Kamla this afternoon when asked about potential Mitchell deal: “Utah didn’t want Julius Randle, from what I’m told. They don’t want him. The Knicks were willing to unload him. They want RJ Barrett. They want at least 6 1st-round picks.” pic.twitter.com/9Nn7DuwlZe
I knew if we could win Game 3 and go to 3-0, it was pretty much a wrap on the series. It was just a matter of whether [the series would be won] in Game 4 or a “gentleman’s sweep” in Game 5. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, we got a stop, and I was just talking to myself: “Put ‘em to sleep. Put ‘em to sleep.” That was the conversation I was having with myself. Not with anyone else on the team or anyone else in the arena. Then, I had finished that layup underneath Jokic, and that was the thought that came out – just to do the sign. I didn’t say, “Night Night” at the time. I was just telling myself, “Put ‘em to sleep.” Fast forward to Game 5, when I made the last layup to go up five with 19 seconds left. That was the official, “Put them to sleep.” The camera didn’t get me on that one, but I actually said it. Fast forward to Memphis, Dallas and then Boston, and it kind of took on a life of its own.
NDP: How did it feel to break it out again in Boston and seal the Finals win? SC: It felt the best. The way that game went, it was an emotional rollercoaster. They came out just hitting every shot, and they were up double digits in the first four minutes. We slowly just crept back and then went on that 21-nothing run. When we came out in the third quarter, everyone was feeling it. Let’s just step on their throats, right now.
NDP: What’s it been like seeing athletes from sports all around the world doing the celebration? SC: It’s the best, ’cause some are taking it to new extremes that I would never feel comfortable doing in the league. But it’s dope to know how far the reach is. I’ve told people before, “I know there’s people that did the symbol before me.” But to know that you cemented a moment that’s on the biggest of stages, and people are inspired by it and want to have fun with whatever they’re doing with it — they’ve taken their own spin on it and have had some creativity with it.
August 17, 2022 | 7:21 pm EDT Update
CJ Holmes: Here’s all four of the Warriors’ long road trips this season: Oct. 29 – Nov 4: Charlotte, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans Dec. 13 – 27: Milwaukee, Indiana, Philadelphia, Toronto, New York, Brooklyn Jan 13 – 20: San Antonio, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland
Jason Dumas: Looks like a local artist in the LA area has painted a mural of JTA in Inglewood. It’ll be unveiled to the public tomorrow. I realized how impactful Juan was at the first Mexican-American to win an NBA Finals during the Warriors parade. Cool stuff. pic.twitter.com/rTPdj8Op4c
August 17, 2022 | 5:43 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: The NBA’s new schedule has 55 baseball-style series in which the road team plays the same foe twice in a row without travel … up from 23 last season. Plus 33 instances on the schedule in which the road team stays in LA or New York to play both local teams on the same trip.