Gordon for Maggette

Cap flexibility a big part of trade that adds attacking, veteran scorer

Gordon was traded to the Bobcats for Corey Maggette and a future first-round draft pick.
Bill Baptist/David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
If next season goes as planned, the Pistons won't have a first-round draft pick - but no matter what happens next season, they'll have the ability to wade into free agency or to benefit via trades involving teams looking for financial relief.

The Pistons traded Ben Gordon and a protected future No. 1 pick - fully lottery protected in 2013 - to Charlotte on Tuesday night for Corey Maggette, a 32-year-old small forward who gives the Pistons a rim attacker that complements Lawrence Frank's offensive philosophy.

While Gordon's role was destined to shrink as Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey cemented their status as the team's primary backcourt tandem, a major impetus for the trade was the implication for the Pistons' salary cap going forward. Gordon held the largest contract on the team with two remaining years at nearly $26 million.

Maggette's contract has one year remaining, meaning the Pistons stand to be well under the salary cap heading into the 2012-13 off-season. That not only will enable them to be players in free agency, but also have the flexibility to facilitate trades between teams that need a third party to accommodate cap rules or to take on a desirable player from a team that needs to create cap room or pare payroll to avoid luxury taxes, which became more punitive under the new collective bargaining agreement.

"We welcome Corey Maggette to our organization in a transaction that provides us with a veteran scorer and defender in addition to increased roster flexibility moving forward," Joe Dumars said in a prepared statement - note the inclusion of "increased roster flexibility" in the same sentence as the addition of Maggette.

You can't separate one from the other in this trade - the cap room it creates a year from now, at the latest, is significant. Maggette, due to his expiring contract and proven scoring ability - he's averaged 16.2 over a 13-year career, and scored 19.8 as recently as two seasons ago - figures to be a desirable trade chip next February, if the Pistons look to make a move.

As for the immediate impact of the trade, the Pistons get a relentless attacker in Maggette, who has averaged 6.9 free-throw attempts per game for his career. He'll be solidly in the mix for playing time at small forward, where he'll complement incumbent starter Tayshaun Prince and, at times, be able to play on the wing opposite him.

Frank loves to get the opposition in foul trouble early in quarters. One can imagine him using Maggette to start the second quarter, with Rodney Stuckey perhaps taking a breather, and running plays to take advantage of Maggette's ability to get to the basket.

The Pistons also expect to have 2011 second-round pick Kyle Singler, fresh off an impressive rookie season in Spain, to fight for minutes at small forward.

The upshot for Austin Daye is he quite likely will have an opportunity at either shooting guard or small forward, where his size in the case of the former and ability to pull defenders away from the paint in the case of the latter give him advantages that aren't as pronounced at small forward. Frank said at season's end that it was possible Daye would be a part of the Summer League roster. If so, he'll probably get a good look at him at those two positions.

The trade also could effect what the Pistons are looking for in the second round of Thursday's draft. Though they were likely to be searching for a wing athlete in any case, they might now be more focused on a player better suited to shooting guard than small forward with the 39th or 44th picks.