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The big, long "catching up" post

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Vacation = over. It was fun while it lasted, but now I'm a bit overwhelmed trying to catch up on everything that I missed. Fortunately I was able to check email (which includes all of your comments posted on DBB) roughly every 36 hours, so I'm not completely out of the loop, but there's still plenty to touch upon.

So what's a guy to do? A good old fashioned link dump:

  • Much of the conversation in the DBB Vegas Summer League open thread centered upon Cheikh Samb, whose performance received mixed reviews among DBB readers. As it happens, that's not a unique phenomenon: witness the differing opinions of Samb in this post on TrueHoop. Henry Abbott presents three views on Samb -- two from a couple of scouts as well as his own:

    So, that leaves us, I'd say, with three observers who see a lot of the same things (one scout thinks he'll get quicker, another does not, but otherwise, the professionals seem to more or less agree). It's no secret why this guy is a prospect. He's looooooong and looks at home on the basketball court.

    But it's a big question whether or not he'll reach his maximum potential. Two professional scouts are guardedly optimistic about everything, while the blogger (that's me) is less so. I hope he proves me wrong. And if Cheikh Samb makes it big in the NBA, Joe Dumars and the Pistons will have a solid reminder why they don't have bloggers on their basketball staff, and they can brag about the great deal they got in the garage sale that is the late second round.

    If Samb someday develops into a legitimate rotation player, the Pistons can certainly pat themselves on the back ... but for the sake of accuracy we should remember the cost wasn't really a mere late second-rounder but instead Maurice Evans, who was traded to the Lakers for Samb's rights on Draft Night 2006. I was a fan of the trade then and still am today, but if/when this trade really starts paying dividends, it will be a gamble that paid off, not a discovery off the garbage heap.

  • It seems like everyone is at odds about Samb's future -- even those in Detroit's front office. From Krista Jahnke's profile on Samb in the Detroit Free Press:

    Samb needs strength, both in his upper body as well as his lower body, which is crucial for big men to hold their positioning. During the summer, Samb is to return to Senegal, where he'll have to rely mainly on sit-ups and push-ups to add more muscle.

    Just how much muscle he can gain is up for debate.

    "He's always going to be an extremely tall, long person," Hammond said. "We know he's not going to come up with a different, massive body."

    Ronzone's not so sure.

    "You look at a guy like (DeSagana) Diop from Dallas," Ronzone said. "He was like 190 pounds, 6-11 when he first came to the league. Now you see him six years later (at 280 pounds). I think (Samb) could be like that."

    Also worth noting from this article:

    Samb's father, who reared 21 kids before he died, was almost 7-feet-4.

    Wow. Just ... wow.

  • Speaking of profiles, Jahnke has another good read in today's Free Press, this time focusing on Rodney Stuckey. Read the whole thing for insight on his background, which explains why his high school grades prevented him from being recruited by bigger schools and how he rebounded in college to become an academic All-American.

    What I'm going to single out here, though, is this quote from Flip Saunders about what he's seen from Stuckey's game so far:

    "He's extremely coachable," Saunders said. "He can get to the basket probably better than anyone we've had since I've been here. And when I say that, I mean getting here quick, just one or two dribbles and getting there really quick. ... He lets things happen, but then he has the ability late to take some things over."

  • Stuckey clearly made an impact in the Vegas Summer League -- he cracked this guy's top three VSL performers by averaging 19.3 points, 4.3 boards, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. More solid praise from Brian Windhorst.
  • Speaking of VSL performances, it wasn't a big surprise to see Jason Maxiell turn in an excellent showing, but how about his new physique? He dropped 30 pounds since the end of the playoffs and it shows -- check out any of the highlight videos over at BBSC and watch for the surprisingly svelte No. 54. Just like DBB reader Brad, I'm curious if Maxiell can see time at the three spot (assuming, of course, he keeps the weight off).
  • For a supposedly "aging" team, Detroit will have a remarkably young core of reserves next year.
  • Rasheed Wallace and Flip Saunders have apparently patched up any differences. Sounds good now, but I still don't believe this is the last we'll hear about their relationship.
  • Darko Milicic signed a modest three-year, $21 million deal with the Grizzlies. I'm still a firm believer in Darko's talent, and it should be interesting seeing him play next to Pau Gasol (and not just because Darko called Pau "soft" less than a month ago). Then again, if you believe what one Lakers TV announcer accidentally revealed on the air Saturday night, it's possible Darko was signed to replace Pau, not play next to him.
  • Both Gabe Pruitt and Glen "Big Baby" Davis were under the impression the Pistons were going to draft them.
  • Odd news coming out of San Antonio: Amir Johnson reportedly turned down more money from the Spurs to sign with the Pistons, who ended up giving him a three-year, $10.8 million deal. Honestly, it doesn't really make sense to me: as Justin Rogers notes at Full-Court Press, Johnson was a restricted free agent and the Pistons made it pretty clear retaining him was a priority, so he could have forced Detroit's hand by signing an offer sheet with the Spurs and having the Pistons match it. Unless, of course, the Spurs were offering more money but over more years -- if Johnson breaks out like a lot of people think he might, I imagine he'll want to test free agency again sooner rather than later.
  • The Wizards were one team keeping an eye on Amir Johnson's status -- not because they were interested in him, but because his contract might set the bar for what Andray Blatche can command.
  • Pistons.com's Keith Langlois on the team's remaining offseason plans:

    At guard, Dumars probably will explore the trade market for Flip Murray once the dust settles on free agency and teams have a better gauge on what they can expect from draft choices after seeing them in summer play. All indications are that Lindsey Hunter intends to play another year, though the Pistons could also include Hunter in a trade to make contracts work under the salary cap if the situation calls for it. ... Dumars said Wednesday that he’s comfortable going into the season with some combination of Afflalo, Mejia and veteran Ronald Dupree backing up Tayshaun Prince at small forward

    Can't say I'm terribly pleased about hearing Hunter plans to come back, unless, of course, he's willing to digest a steady diet of DNP-CD's. He'll need to, if it's true that Mejia and Dupree are in the team's plans behind Tay.

  • And ... that's all. For now, at least.