Did yesterday's Pistons-Grizzlies-Raptors trade surprise you? You're not the only one. Speaking to reporters after the Pistons' game in Indianapolis, Tayshaun Prince admitted that he didn't know anything was in the works until after arriving to the arena. From Pistons.com:
"I didn't find out until I got here," he said. "Shocked, but like I've told you guys before, business, man. You never know what's going to happen. Definitely a tough, tough time, but now it's time to move on to the next page, next chapter, and make the best out of it. ... It hasn't really sunk in. I'm pretty sure it will once we get on the floor. It was just a culture shock to everybody in the locker room, but it will once I put that uniform on. I'm excited at the same time."
My how times change: it was just two weeks ago that Prince told reporters that "now is not the time" for a trade, and "It's not like I've been left out of the loop." I suspected at the time that was merely pride talking, though; Prince is a grizzled veteran (and now, a Grizzly veteran) who knows how the NBA operates -- which often entails showing up to an arena expecting to play but instead being pulled into a coach's office and told your new life is 800 miles to the south.
Joe Dumars, in a statement released by the team, expressed appreciation for Prince. "Trading a player like Tayshaun Prince, who has meant so much to our organization and contributed to our championship success, is never easy," he said. "We want to thank Tayshaun for his professionalism and contributions over the last 10 years."
Lawrence Frank expressed similar appreciation while talking to reporters after the game. From NBA.com:
"I think everyone was surprised that [the trade] took place right before the game. [Pistons president] Joe Dumars called me and I knew how much it hurt him. Tayshaun has been a part of the Pistons' family for 10 years. Throughout the time all those tight-woven relationships have developed, and I know that Joe felt horrible right before the game. But, for Tayshaun, I'm eternally grateful for his professionalism and how he handled himself. Obviously, with the championship and redefining himself, he became a very good role player and a captain for the team. I wish both Tayshaun and Austin the best of luck."
And a bit more from Frank, via the same Pistons.com link above:
"I know Joe felt horrible it had to be right before the game," Frank said. "The accomplishments of Tay - I know how grateful people who've been here a whole lot longer than I have are. I'm eternally grateful for his professionalism and how he handled himself. Austin, with his professionalism and growth, dealing with adversity and showing maturity.
"This is the tough part of the business. I can't them thank enough for their contributions and both represented the organization in a first-class way. These are difficult moves to make, but we feel going forward that these are the moves we need to make."
I wholeheartedly agree these are the moves the Pistons need to make. That's not a slight against Prince, either; he's a talented player who should contribute a great deal to the Grizzlies this year and next.
But at his age, and with his miles, he's not a player that could realistically expect to still be with the Pistons the next time they were relevant -- and if you're not part of the future, you're part of the problem. He was too good (and too accomplished) to remove from the starting lineup, but he wasn't good to make the Pistons actually matter. In Memphis, who knows, maybe he's their missing piece. As difficult as it may be to say goodbye, change was overdue.