It happened. Today is another day. Let's move on, shall we.
Now that the starting point guard position for the Detroit Pistons is even more wide open, let's take an even more in-depth look at the players around the league that may be available to fill the void. Earlier, I wrote a series exploring players that we could likely acquire at all positions of need for the team. For this article, I will focus on the first position on the Roster Priority Tree (RPT): starting point guard.
Former Wake Forest Demon Deacon and current Atlanta Hawk player Jeff Teague is a 6' 2" point guard with real skills for the position. His PER has increased by at least 1.00 each of his four seasons in the NBA, topping out at 16.8 last season. Notably, he surpassed highly-sought-after-free-agent teammate Josh Smith in TS% (.543 to Smoove's .501) and WS (6.1 to 4.2) for the Atlanta Hawks while posting a respectable 16.0 pts/7.9 asts/1.6 stls per 36 mins.
Teague was previously making $2.4 million as a restricted free agent eligible for a qualifying offer of $4.5 million which was extended to him. Certainly, he will swiftly turn that down and take a much more lucrative deal - though from whom?
Tale of the Tape
Teague's an exciting player to watch and fits the profile for the kind of guy we want on the court with the young squad the Pistons are building.
Teague has obviously been growing frustrated with the way his restricted free agency is being handled by the Atlanta Hawks brass. According to Yahoo!'s Marc Spears, his camp claims they have had zero meaningful contract discussions with the team and they aren't happy about it. A quick peek at Teague's official Twitter earlier cryptically stated: "I see what it is" - no end punctuation. Harsh.
The Milwaukee Bucks are apparently interested in Teague's services at the behest of new coach Larry Drew, and Teague may be receptive to such obvious appreciation despite apparent clashes with Coach Drew in the past.
Teague would be my #1 choice to replace Calderon; in fact, he could represent both an upgrade and a clear, accelerated step toward the future.
Rondo is widely recognized as the premier passing point guard in the NBA. At 27 years old, he has led the NBA in APG for the last two seasons (11.7, 11.1) and made the last four NBA All-Star teams. Unfortunately, his shooting numbers are abysmal: 24% from 3-pt range on 1.3 attempts per 36 mins and .645 from the free throw line. He should be a 6' 11" center. That said, he is a great defensive player at his position, and his 52.5% assist percentage indicates just how much he was responsible for his team's offense.
Despite all his accolades and production, he is only the league's 38th most expensive player and is listed as the 6th-highest-salaried point guard at $11.9 million (fun fact: Rodney Stuckey is currently 10th at $8.5 million); he will be a free agent at the end of the 2014-2015 season.
Tale of the Tape
Instincts, handles, vision - he is the prototypical pass-first point guard.
Rondo won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and definitely knows how to win. We have seen him will his team to victory with hustle, smart plays, and intensity.
Of course, let one ESPN journalist tell it, he may also be a nascent serial killer; you never can tell with these things, I guess. I doubt he's that bad, but I've heard that there has been trouble in the Celtics locker room involving Rondo before, and he has been involved in trade rumors seemingly his entire tenure with the organization - though developing a jumper might fix that.
Of course, Rajon Rondo is on the path to the Hall of Fame and would be an undeniable upgrade as a starting PG for Detroit, even if his shooting deficiency would be a tremendous drawback.
But, try as I might, I just cannot see a scenario where trading Rondo for anything except a king's ransom of first-round draft picks makes sense for Boston, and that's just not something the Pistons can offer right now. Only Cleveland, Orlando, and Charlotte (those dastardly fiends) likely have the assets Boston would be interested in to really make such a trade happen, and only Orlando has the motivation to do so for Rondo.
In fact, Orlando should do so right now. If ever there was a way to guarantee tanking for the #1 pick in a draft, it would be trying to score out of a backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Victor Oladipo (the middle-class man's Thabo Sefolosha).
A typical, boring San Antonio Spurs success story from Slovenia who escaped Camp Championship and got lost in the bitter wasteland that was Sarverville (I hear it's getting better), 6' 4" Phoenix Suns PG Goran Dragic is about as under-the-radar as multimillionaire athletes get. His 15.8 pts/7.9 asts/1.7 stls per 36 mins all compare favorably with Jeff Teague and he's two inches taller. He turned 27 in May, and could give a young team many productive years, barring injury.
Tale of the Tape
I love that he's ready to smoke the rotting corpse of Steve Nash; the only thing missing in this video at the beginning is Apollo Creed on the beach with him. And wine and candlelight.
His nickname is "The Dragon." Is your nickname "The Dragon"? Then, you don't get a vote. Go watch the Trey Burke video at the bottom of the article.
Also, might be a little weak to defend bigger point guards.
As a consolation prize in the Jeff Teague sweepstakes, we could do a lot worse. I think he's my second favorite fit. If he was 25, it would be a very difficult choice between Dragic and Teague.
Jeremy Lin is a 6' 3", 200-lb PG who took the sports media world by storm with his emergence in New York (where else do sports-media storms start?) for the Knicks last season, and performed like more of a normal, yet talented young player playing as the full-time starter for the Houston Rockets this season. He's only 24, making him the youngest RPT1 candidate profiled.
His measurable are interesting in their very mundanity: His 14.9 points/6.8 assists/1.8 steals are all good-not-great for a starting point guard, but all are significantly lower than his eye-opening numbers in his 35-game, second-year stint in New York. We are all looking for the real Jeremy Lin to stand up - only time can tell us whom that person is.
Of course, the easy answer is that Lin was simply a good fit for Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun psycho offense. That is probably true. Like Don Nelson's system, D'Antoni's is a notorious numbers inflator, and much as Nellie made the likes of Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, and Andris Biedrins much more coin than they would have earned in the open market had they never played in that system, Lin was the recipient of much good fortune, getting a three-year/$25-million deal which would never had been granted if not for the outbreak of Linsanity. The structure of the contract is strange. First two years are at $5 M, and the third is a $15 M bump; some call it benign, some call it malignant.
Tale of the Tape
The boy can ball, though. I purposely linked to a Linsanity-less reel, meaning all from this season in Houston (in saner times). But, if you must see the crazy: Go nuts. (Most straightforward I found, but it's a full :40 before any basketball starts because, y'know, NEW YAWK, SUN!)
Has there ever been more X of a factor? He's young. He's been spectacular, especially offensively. He might not be overpaid now - he almost certainly will be in the last year of that contract unless he becomes MVP Steve Nash - are we hiring D'Antoni after Kobe fires him?
I am intrigued and baffled, all in one beautiful souffle of wonder. In any case, he is likely to shake out somewhere due to Houston's financial pinch from acquiring Dwight Howard and - possibly - Josh Smith. If some front office is crafty and motivated, they can probably make a deal to free Lin or Teague.
He could be the best thing for these young Pistons - or he could be a disappointment of Otis Smithian proportions.
Other players who are not true RPT1 candidates and why
- Jarrett Jack: He's Scott Mitchell, isn't he? I mean, I like him, I'm enamored, just like you. But, he's 29, and we're desperate. I know it's late, but maybe we just go home alone tonight.
- Darren Collison: Props to J Dre for reminding me to mention this cat. Collison has been given the opportunity to start for three teams (New Orleans Hornets, Indiana Pacers, and Dallas Mavericks) so far in his short, four-year career - and each time he has ended up not only without a starting job, but without any job at all. I don't think he's the man for our starting job either. On the measurable side, his numbers look good, but he's a small guard with little hope of defending his man in the post and lower per-36 mins steals numbers than I'm comfortable with: 1.5 in a contract year, no less; over-hyped proto-short-PG Eric Bledsoe posted 2.5). A backup is a backup is a backup, and he's good, but he's a backup. And he'll be somebody's backup.
- Brandon Jennings: Milwaukee apparently has every intent to keep Jennings. Brandon may or may not have every intent of staying. Ultimately, it will all come down to whether they decide to match whatever offer he gets as a restricted free agent. Considering the Bucks have lost so much this offseason already and value Jennings so highly, I think they will match any offer, no matter how mad. Let them tie that noose. I wish John Hammond well in his future pursuits.
- Jameer Nelson: Victor Oladipo is apparently being groomed to replace him at the point, but just because Orlando jumps off a bridge, that doesn't mean we have to.
- Andre Miller is almost certainly gone from Denver if they can find a taker. Hopefully, Joe Dumars is not in the market for point guards older than he is who have not won championships with us before. I'd rather have Isiah. Or Isaiah. Not because Miller can't still play, mind you, but because he's never been an outside shooter or defensive stalwart and factoring that in with his advanced age makes him a nonsensical starter for a team at our stage of development. Talk to me later when we go over possible RPT3s, though.
- Ramon Sessions: Charlotte is facing losing this valuable talent for nothing next offseason, because he will not start over Kemba Walker. Of course, that's because his jumper is worse then Kemba Walker's. This conversation just ended.
- George Hill: An interesting case; Hill was good enough to get the Pacers to the playoffs, then let them down when it really got down to the nitty gritty against Miami. They may be motivated to move him, and he would be an upgrade over Our Current Situation (see below). Maybe a move that brings Danny Granger here brings Hill along for the ride. But, Indiana would only do such a move if it meant they would upgrade at PG, and since we have no way of offering them such an upgrade on our own, it is overwhelmingly likely that even if we were involved in such a deal, the PGs involved in exchange (including Hill) would not involve us. So, Hill is worth mentioning here, but not really worth exploring. I'd rather sleep.
- Mo Williams: This article is about point guards.
- Brandon Knight: Our Current Situation, aka OCS. Good ol' OCS. I love this guy. Really, I do. He takes so much crap from the people on these boards, suffering the unending ridicule of being an undersized combo guard with an underdeveloped jumper and poor court vision. But, were we so different at the tender age of 21? I, for one, appreciate the little guy's tenacity. He tried to block a 7-foot, talentless hack like DeAndre Jordan with nothing but tiger guts and sheer will, and I applaud him for it. That said, he's not a starting point guard on a team that's headed in the right direction, and he never will be. I stand behind my hunch that he will be a kickass combo guard/6th guard at the SG spot coming off the bench. No, he is not the most efficient shooter in the world, but I think he will develop that skill and become the Lindsey Hunter of our times, a fearless scorer from inside and out who learns to play hard and smart. Until then, time to find the right option. Which brings us to ...
- Trey Burke: Total oversight on my part by not having him be the first person mentioned in this article! In fact, there's an entire video dedicated to an entirely plausible way this could work out.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts in the comments! Who do you want to see the Pistons bring in now that Jose Calderon is off the board? How will your choice get here? What happens if we bring in someone else?