In their effort to add some scoring off the bench, the Pistons picked up free agent Ronald "Flip" Murray over the weekend.Yes, I know DBB is late with this -- we took a long weekend being laughed at by fish in Grayling, MI. Murray certainly didn't impress anyone with his performance against Detroit in the playoffs (5.6 points on 21% shooting in 32.6 minutes per game), and the reaction among many Pistons fans has been lukewarm at best.
Personally, I like the move, at least considering the price tag: Murray agreed to accept Detroit's bi-annual exception of $3.5 million over the next two years. Considering the alternatives in that price range were players like Tony Delk and Chucky Atkins, Murray seems like a bargain considering he's usually instant offense off the bench.
I'm not going to gloss things over -- he certainly has his shortcomings, especially on the defensive side of the ball -- but he should help reduce some of the maddening stretches from the playoffs where the Pistons couldn't hit a bucket to save their lives. Murray has a decent jump shot, but he's also capable of putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket. I would have preferred the Pistons to acquire a true backup point guard, but Murray has some experience running the point -- even if his efforts did lead frustrated Seattle fans to create a web site calling for him to be traded.
But what about Carlos Delfino? Joe Dumars already said he was disappointed with how few minutes Delfino played this past season, and it certainly seemed like he sent Maurice Evans packing to the Lakers in an effort to open up more minutes for Delfino this coming season. Will Murray's arrival cut into Delfino's playing time?
Maybe a little, but they don't really play the same position: as DBB reader kramer pointed out, Murray is a 6-foot-3 combo guard while Delfino is a 6-foot-6 small forward who can also play shooting guard. There is some overlap of their roles, but Delfino certainly gets the edge whenever the team needs someone to man up on defense against a bigger swingman.
Chris McCosky has a nice introduction to Murray in today's Detroit News, pointing out how the Pistons were actually linked to Murray from before he was even drafted:
It was the Pistons, after all, who essentially discovered Murray back in 2002 when he played for Division II Shaw (N.C.) University. Pistons director of scouting George David and director of player personnel Scott Perry were the first NBA scouts to watch him play.
Once Murray became Division II player of the year and began dominating the pre-draft workouts, the Pistons couldn't keep him a secret. The Pistons, who drafted Tayshaun Prince that year, didn't have a second-round pick and Murray wound up in Milwaukee (42nd pick).
Murray didn't do much his first couple of years in the league, but he finally caught a break in 2003-04 when he started 18 games for the Sonics in place of an injured Ray Allen. It was then that he drew favorable comparisons to Vinnie Johnson from Sonics GM Rick Sund, who spent six years working in Detroit's front office before moving on to Seattle in 2001.
McCosky also reports that Murray is expected to play about 30 minutes a game. I'll believe it when I see it. I know the team wants to reduce the wear and tear on Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, but I'll be shocked if either one of those two guys plays fewer than 34 minutes a game, and it's obvious by how much the team paid to retain Lindsey Hunter ($4.5 million over two years) that he still factors into the rotation for about 10 minutes a night. So for now, I'm putting the over/under for Murray at 20 minutes per game. But that's probably all he'll need to average 9-10 points. All in all, that's not bad for the price.