Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pistons Offseason Breakdown, Part Two

I apologize in advance for any egregious crimes against the art of writing I perform in this post. At this time of the morning (it is currently 8:20 am), my brain functions somewhere between "drunk Ozzy Osbourne" and "Paris Hilton with a closed head injury." Consider yourself forewarned.

This is me, right now. Minus the bling.

In the aftermath of the Pistons' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, a veritable maelstrom of unsubstantiated rumors have been thrown forth by everyone from respected newspaper columnists to belligerently intoxicated fans who retain the ability to type on a computer (as of yet, no belligerently intoxicated columnists, unfortunately). Names such as KG and Kobe have been thrown into the fray (sometimes in the same lineup...I want whatever that guy's on), as well as (relatively) more feasible rumors of Rasheed going to the Knicks.

While few of these rumors have any basis in actual reality, it certainly is fun (and somewhat therapeutic) to join in the wild speculation. So, here's what I believe the Pistons should do:

1. Re-sign Chauncey Billups. Regardless of how poorly he played in the playoffs, Chauncey is still a top-10 NBA point guard who has the size and skill to contribute well into his 30s. Anyone looking to see how big point guards like Chauncey fare as they start to move into their mid-30s should watch Jason Kidd play. Kidd has a much longer history of injuries than Billups, but has not lost his ability to manage the game and continues to average nearly a triple-double every year. Chauncey is not the passer that Kidd is, nor will he ever be, but he is a much better shooter, and long-range shooting does not tend to decline severely with age. Chauncey still has the ability to point guard a championship team, and any statement to the contrary is a knee-jerk reaction to an ugly postseason exit.

2. Trade Rasheed Wallace for an expiring contract. Bill Simmons brought up an interesting scenario in his recent column on the Pistons:
Deal Wallace (two years and $26 million remaining on his deal) in a three-way trade in which 'Sheed goes to Washington, Antawn Jamison (expires in 2008) goes to Portland and Zach Randolph goes to Detroit. ... Or they could just deal 'Sheed for Jamison straight up if they wanted the cap space.
Both of these potential deals intrigue me, and I would pull the trigger on either if I was Joe Dumars. Randolph is very talented and young (25 years old), and his "character issues" have been very overblown in my opinion. He certainly carries no more baggage that Sheed did when he came to Detroit, and that move worked out pretty well. However, I like the potential deal for Jamison better because of the cap flexibility it provides in the 2008 offseason. Jamison is no slouch himself, and would be a solid starter at the power forward position for next year. With the cap room gained from his expiring contract, the Pistons could then make a strong push for signing Elton Brand or Shawn Marion, two players who could be on the free agent market (both have player options for '08-'09) after next season. Either way, I think Sheed needs to go, especially if (as he is "absolutely" sure will happen) Flip Saunders is indeed the coach next season.

3. Draft a Point Guard and a Center. Detroit needs a true center who can come in and play immediately, or at least split time with Nazr Mohammed (whose contract may make him difficult to deal). Obviously, who Detroit takes and when they take him is contingent on what the other teams do early on. Rumor has it Chinese PF Yi Jianlian may fall down to Chicago at the ninth pick, which may mean Washington Center Spencer Hawes would be available for the Pistons at 15. Hawes is a skilled low-post scorer and a good passer for a big man, and should be able to play immediately. Detroit could also look at Colorado State PF Jason Smith, and athletic seven-footer who could play the five on an up-tempo team. If Detroit gets Hawes or goes with Smith, I would like to see them draft Florida PG Taurean Green with the 25th pick. Green was a member of Florida's back-to-back national title teams, and has been playing quite well in the NBA pre-draft camps. If Hawes is gone before 15 (as he is projected right now), Detroit should take either Texas A&M PG Acie Law (if he is, improbably, still around), Georgia Tech PG Javaris Crittenton, or Eastern Washington combo guard Rodney Stuckey. Law is clearly option number one among most Pistons fans, and Detroit would probably prefer him over Hawes if both somehow dropped. If Detroit goes with a guard early, Pittsburgh C Aaron Gray or Spanish C Marc Gasol (brother of Pau) should both be available at 25.

Given these moves, your 2007-2008 Detroit Pistons would look something like this:

Chauncey Billups
Rip Hamilton
Tayshaun Prince
Antawn Jamison
Spencer Hawes

Antonio McDyess
Flip Murray
Taurean Green
Jason Maxiell
Amir Johnson
Nazr Mohammed
Carlos Delfino
Ronald Dupree
Will Blalock
Cheikh Samb? (probably NBDL if he comes over to America from Spain...check out Detroit Bad Boys' article on him for much more)




This isn't exactly a world-beating lineup, but it has the potential to turn into much more in the future, especially if Brand or Marion sign on next offseason. Detroit also has the possibility of using its mid-level exception if it so desires (maybe Jamaal Magloire?), but I'm not sure they'll use it if they can't get rid of Mohammed for an expiring deal.

This is all just wild guessing, and I'm probably horrendously wrong on most of my guesswork, but this at least gives us some idea of what may occur during the offseason.

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