With the NBA playoffs behind us, the 2017 off–season is here and many teams must make massive decisions. CBA expert Danny Leroux breaks down the major challenges and opportunities for the Detroit Pistons in The Crossover’s NBA Summer Preview series.The Pistons are in an unenviable position to start the summer. While they have a talented roster, they are a rare non-playoff team with very little flexibility. Spending up to the salary cap line and then giving Andre Drummond a big raise last off-season was a reasonable use of resources since that cap space was going away as soon as Drummond re-signed but it functionally locked in their team for another few years. That decision by coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy did not bear out in the 2016-17 season, as Detroit fell short of the playoffs with a 37-45 record. Now their salary situation gets even more challenging as shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will receive his raise with the team’s other principals already under contract. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: The 24-year old restricted free agent will likely get a serious contract offer due to his ability to defend, hit open threes (35% this season) and play a scarce position. Van Gundy can either analyze the decision on Caldwell-Pope’s offer sheet in isolation or in the greater context of the Pistons’ substantial salary obligations. Additionally, the two sides could attempt to come to an agreement on a deal outside of the restricted free agency process, as the Magic did with Evan Fournier last season. #12 pick: One silver lining to Detroit’s disappointing season is that they have the chance to draft a talented prospect who could also provide some cost-controlled value on an expensive team. There has been reporting that Van Gundy could move this choice for a veteran and while there are certainly some who would provide a meaningful upgrade, those decisions often hurt teams down the road. Furthermore, while some feel the 12th pick may be just after a potential drop-off point in this draft class, it would only take one or two reaches to change that cheap jerseys China dynamic and open up a great opportunity. Luxury tax avoidance: If Caldwell-Pope ends up close to his maximum salary (about $25 million for 2017-18), the Pistons will be over the luxury tax line even before using their Mid-Level exception. Aron Baynes will likely factor into the resolution of that because he can decline his player option worth $6.5 million or he can pick it up and Detroit can trade him to a team more interested in a backup center on a one-year contract than the free agents on the market. If free agents Reggie Bullock and Beno Udrih are headed elsewhere, the Pistons will still need to clear about $4 million more to get under the tax, not including any new salary signed during the off-season. Fortunately, the front office has more time to get it done because teams only need to get below the line by the end of the regular season, making the trade deadline another opportunity to shed salary.