Detroit Pistons sign Kobe Bryant's deputy Jodie Meeks to big contract

The Pistons gave the former Los Angeles Laker a 3-year $19 million deal.

The Detroit Pistons have made the first big signing of this season's free-agency period, signing shooting guard Jodie Meeks to a lucrative 3-year $19 million-plus contract.

Meeks, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, will provide the Pistons with a much-needed long-range shooter in the backcourt and a player who can defend his position well.

He averaged 15.7 points per game in 2013-14 on 46.3% shooting from the field and 40.1% on three-pointers, all career highs.

Meeks stepped in for Kobe Bryant when the star shooting guard went down for most of the season with achilles and knee injuries, and he was probably the team's best player in a miserable season.

It is a sizable risk for the Pistons to put so much faith in a player who has had one really good year. If Meeks can emulate his production from last season he will justify his $6.5 million salary, although it is worth noting he has only averaged 40% from three-point range over the course of a season once in his career.

The Pistons also signed free-agent wing Cartier Martin, who last played for the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 39.1% from deep last year.

New Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy is clearly putting a premium on shooting this offseason. The team may eventually resemble his 2009 Orlando Magic team that made it to the NBA finals.

Andre Drummond looks set to step into the Dwight Howard role of dominant big man surrounded by a host of dead-eye shooters from long range.

Meeks tweeted his appreciation to the Lakers organisation, and expressed his excitement at playing in Detroit.