With the first day (plus some) of free agency in the rear view, the NBA's silly season has begun in earnest. For fans like us, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Every team has a chance to improve; well maybe not but it seems like it anyway ...
Particularly, we in the Detroit Bad Boys community have had a unique time of it, as the Detroit Pistons front office apparently has been courting every free agent not named Dwight, Chris, or Shaquille (heck, we may even re-sign Rasheed). In fact, many of us have been distressed by some of the people Joe Dumars has chosen to meet with (e.g., Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith) and elated at the prospect of others (i.e., Brandan Wright).
This has prompted lively debate among the fanbase here and elsewhere. Some of the frustrated Pistons faithful, baffled by all the negativity, understandably pose a barrage of questions of the skeptical lot poo-pooing meetings with the likes of J-Smoove. The ask things like:
If the Pistons have been so bad for so long, why doesn't everyone just want them to bring in these very good players?
Why can't you be satisfied with Joe wanting to bring in near-All-Stars entering their primes?
And, of course:
Can anything Joe D. does be good enough?
Why, yes. Yes, it can.
I present to you, here, my proposition for things that Joe could do that would appease me, and I would presume, other like-minded Pistons fans. These are the players whom I believe answer that grand question,"Well, who would you have them get?" You want answers? Oh, buddy, do I got 'em. Pull up a chair; we're gonna be here awhile.
First, Some Basic Principles
Before we go throwing names out willy-nilly, however, I think those whom I would consider "like-minded" as I said above would agree that the team should adhere to the following principles in this, the 2013 offseason:
- This team belongs to Drummond and Monroe; bring in players to complement them: Those two are the franchise cornerstones. They generate their offense inside. To be most effective, they will need help in the form of players who will generate their offense outside. KCP will help with that, but it will be very helpful if players at other positions on the floor can hit perimeter jumpers so they are not drawing their defenders inside with them and clogging the paint. This has been a Pistons problem for years now.
- Ball movement can be a real strength if we accentuate it: Monroe has rare passing skill for a big man. If we have other players in the fold with such ability, it stands to reason that our offense could be pretty dynamic, creative, and exciting - giving the team an actual strength and identity to build upon.
- The Pistons are not yet in their prime; they need more youth or the right veteran contracts: The players we bring in should be in a position to either grow with the team over the next few years or act as cap money placeholders for paying Andre Drummond in 2016 when he'll be a restricted free agent and possibly pursuing Kevin Durant who will be unrestricted.
- Finally, it's better to be choosers than beggars: It is important to be aware of the real constraints surrounding cap holds when we're thinking about how teams can use their money this offseason, but it's equally vital to note that we can use our cap space to do more than simply sign free agents that happen to be available. We can use it to execute trades for players with wildly uneven salaries; in fact, this was the strategy Joe said he was going to pursue. Hopefully, that equals proactive teamwide improvement for the present and the future, as is the team's recent mandate from
Hans Gruber's hairTom Gores, not reactively taking the first "small forward" with name recognition or trading the Glengarry draft picks to Charlotte to get rid of a bad contract - because giving those picks to them is just throwing them away.
The Hit List
With these principles in mind, I present to you the 2013 Detroit Pistons Offseason Hit List (DPOHL) - the group of players that front office, ideally, would draw from to fill out the roster for the upcoming season. If the team lock up two of these players, that's progress. Acquire three, and that is success. Add four to this team, and we are well on our way to rebuilding our former glory. Five, and there is no limit to what the Pistons can do.
The Roster Priority Tree (RPT)
Of course, adding five point guards (even if they're all TREY BURKEZZZZ!! ERMAGUURSHHHH!!!) would do the team little good. In my opinion, based on current construction of the roster and irrespective of free agents, areas of need for the Pistons in order of priority appear to be:
- Starting PG: We need a primary ballhandler to bring the ball up the court and set the offense more than anything else right now. This person should also be able to hit spot-up jumpers received on kickouts from post players.
- Starting SF: Ideally a do-anything type, this person should at least be able to hit spot-up jumpers received on kick-out passes from post players. (See the pattern?) Defending the many athletic wing players in the Eastern Conference is a plus, though we may be able to do OK without this for someone who is an exemplary shooter.
- Backup PG: Siva may be ready to go in this spot relatively soon, but I think a year or two of training behind a veteran would do him good and give him time to develop his jumper for the NBA level. Brandon Knight should not be slotted as our backup PG, where we're setting him up to fail, and we should plan on Rodney Stuckey being shipped out as an asset.
- Backup PF: We seem to have this under control with Jonas Jerebko and Tony Mitchell, but I would rather see them create mismatches at SF offensively. A stretch four (yes, that old chestnut) would be welcome on this team.
- Backup SF: Yes, we do have Kyle Singler, but he was a disappearing act for most of last season. I believe Mitchell and JJ can do quite a bit to back up the SF spot (see above), but we could benefit from a dedicated
- Backup C: Despite the general disdain many had for him last season, Kravtsov is probably enough to spell the two Big Guys at the pivot on most nights - but he also probably won't be much of a positive impact player this season. A player capable of playing the five spot with one refined skill - 3-point shot, elite shot blocking, high-level passing ability - could give the team a different dimension.
- Third SG: I think Brandon Knight is great for the Pistons as a backup shooting guard. In the event I'm wrong, it couldn't hurt to have a guy who inspires more confidence than Kim English around to back up rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Pistons Usable Assets
I have only targeted players that the Pistons could reasonably hope to acquire with the resources available to them. I am including among those resources everything below The Knight Line (see below). In descending order of my desire to part with:
- Brandon Knight: Let me go on the record in saying that I like BK7. I do not think the Pistons should trade him unless doing so will finish filling in the first six areas above and significantly upgrade them at backup SG, where I think Knight belongs. That's a tall order, and I doubt it happens. When you have a player like that - bad enough that fans will always complain about him because of his cost of acquisition, but good enough that he is likely to outperform any replacement - I call that The Knight Line. Plus, it makes him a little more badass, thus offsetting this (sorry, dude). In short, he may just be the some eggs that must be broken to make an omelette.
- Charlie Villanueva, well-known dirty player, prototypical stretch-4 PF, inconsistent worker, expiring contract, veteran, enigma, champion for those afflicted with alopecia, player for whom the Pistons have the power to amnesty his contract. Despite could live with his inconsistent effort on the glass (and the court) as a backup PF because of his shooting ability if I wasn't so concerned about him just being a bad presence on this young team.
- Rodney Stuckey and his magical expiring contract (no longer with half-off discount powers). If only you could stick shots, Stuck.
- Jonas Jerebko, an inexpensive veteran backup PF/SF. Why do I always like him better than our coaches?
- Slava Kravtsov, a cheap, young 7-foot center. Can he play? I don't know yet.
- Kyle Singler, a cheap, young spot starter at SF/SG. Not bad, but inconsequential. Dime a dozen, it would appear.
- Sign-and-trade rights to Will Bynum. I'm an optimist. Plus, the cash-strapped Bulls are definitely interested.
- About $20-$30 M in cap space, depending on front office choices and what the final cap number turns out to be
- About $3 M in cash considerations
- All future second-round picks
- Future first-round picks 2018 and afterward as a result of the Charlotte trade being unresolved *shakes fist at Joe 2.0*
The List: Part I
The DPOHL itself is comprised of players from each team in the league that I think the Pistons could possibly acquire, either by trade or free agency, who would fit the principles I laid out, ordered according to the the Roster Priority Tree (RPT).
Here it is:
- RPT1: Jeff Teague: Young, good A/T (2.52), could be a star here, new ATL regime may not value as highly
- RPT2: Kyle Korver: Great floor spacing, great way to hold cap space, and he can probably dodge a wrench
- RPT7: John Jenkins: Was a tremendous shooter at Vanderbilt; bad A/T in college, but can drill it outside
- RPT1: Rajon Rondo. Despite Ainge's protests, Pistons are in line at the Rondo store - with good reason.
- RPT2: Gerald Wallace: A placeholder to be sure, but part of his dropoff may have been being in Brooklyn
- RPT7: Courtney Lee: Pricey for 7th-tier priority, but nice placeholder; nice size, can shoot & drive to basket
- RPT1: Ramon Sessions: And our draft pick back
- RPT2: Gerald Henderson: And our draft pick back
- RPT3: Jannero Pargo: And our draft pick back
- RPT4: Tyrus Thomas: And our draft pick back
- RPT5: Reggie Williams: And our draft pick back
- RPT6: Byron Mullens: And our draft pick back
- RPT7: Ben Gordon: And our draft pick back
We don't have the resources to acquire Jimmy Butler without giving up too much value, and don't think Luol Deng is the right fit for us at this time. Almost perfect, but not quite. Right now, that situation is just chaos.
- RPT3: Daniel Gibson: A true PGINO (point guard in name only), Boobie's 3-pt shot is undeniable
- RPT3: Shaun Livingston: Terrible shooter, but good playmaker who can mentor Siva in the NBA game
- RPT5: Omri Casspi: The Pistons wanted him once; I'm glad 4 yrs of Kings/Cavs haven't killed his spirit
- RPT7: Wayne Ellington: Pretty name, pretty jump shot; is that name royalty, fat body? (NSFW, sweetheart!)
- RPT2: Shawn Marion: Vet with an unwanted expiring contract who can teach a few things on his way out
- RPT3: Darren Collison: Young backup PG who fits the Bynum blueprint
- RPT4: Brandan Wright: Oh, they're already on it. Besides, he's already performed well at The Palace.
- RPT7: Anthony Morrow: Pure shooter. Undrafted, underrated, but probably unaffordable with Knight.
- RPT2: Wilson Chandler: Far superior option to Iggy, is young, defends 3 positions, shoots well from outside
- RPT3: Andre Miller: Skillful placeholder who'll be 40 at the end of deal; crafty, likes to fool whippersnappers
- RPT4: Anthony Randolph: It's been 4 years since Lamar Odom made him cry and he's still only 23!
- RPT7: Evan Fournier: At only 20, I still consider this guy an intriguing draft pick
- RPT7: Jordan Hamilton: Similar to the above, but less intrigue
- RPTX: (I don't want) Andre Iguodala: Listen to what's coming out of Denver right now (~2 mins)
*** End Part I ***
Writing this post has been incredibly fun, but it has taken me a lot longer than I thought it would, and I promised Kriz I would never write a post longer than 2,000 words if it wasn't about Moose. So, I'll finish the Hit List tomorrow. Please come back for more then, you wonderful masochist, you. In the interim, I look forward to your comments to see what you think.
Thanks for reading so fa-
To continue the Hit List saga: