Brooklyn — Aron Baynes was considered too vital to the Detroit Pistons chances of making the playoffs this season for the franchise to trade the Australian at the deadline in February.
Pistons coach Stan van Gundy, who also serves as team president, said management discussed moving Baynes and getting something in return now rather than lose him for nothing in free-agency at season’s end, but decided that their chances of maintaining a playoff seeding were higher with Baynes on the roster.
“We talked about it, but Aron is a vital part of what we’re doing and win and move ahead and get in the playoffs, and I think that without Aron our chances would be much slimmer than they are now,” said Van Gundy prior to the Pistons game against the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
“We talked about it and we knew what [is] coming and we made a decision. That’s another thing with pro sports, everything can’t always be about next year. The present does matter so we decided we would hang on to him.”
Baynes has appeared in 69 games for the Pistons this season and is averaging 4.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in just over 15 minutes of court time each night, but has stepped up big when the team has needed him. Last Sunday, he had 13 points and 17 rebounds in a win over the Phoenix Suns.
Baynes signed a three-year, $20 million deal with Detroit in the summer of 2015 that also included a player option after the second season.
“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 last November.
Given how well Baynes has performed in limited minutes with the Pistons, and even taking into account the increase in the NBA salary cap next season – which is expected to pass $100 million – Van Gundy said it was hamstrung in what they could offer Baynes, considering what he will likely command on the free-agent market.
“Aron, with just the way the rules are, we’re limited in what we can pay him even if we wanted into the [luxury] tax and everything, because he’s opting out after two-years we’re limited in what we can pay. That makes it a lot tougher,” said Van Gundy.
Feature image via: USATI