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Breaking Pistons news and analysis of developments within the team and around the NBA.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Unlike the Lions, where draft day was the biggest of the offseason, the Pistons simply added pieces to their bench on draft night Thursday.
They're not expecting Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers or Jonas Jerebko to play major roles next season and perhaps beyond. Daye will probably back up Tayshaun Prince as a rookie, if Prince doesn't get traded, but that's about the extent of it.
The fireworks begin this week. First, the Pistons have to find out if Kwame Brown will opt out or not. That will give them a better idea of how much cap room they have available.
Then comes the free-agent market, which opens Wednesday. Will they make a big play for Carlos Boozer, assuming he opts out? Will they target Ben Gordon and will Gordon accept a super sixth  man role? Is there another free agent, like Hedo Turkoglu, that has caught their eye? Will they get serious with Toronto about a potential Chris Bosh deal and how much will they have to give up to make that happen?
What happens this July will determine whether the Pistons will play in May and June in the near future.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The Pistons chose 6-11 Gonzaga forward Austin Daye with the No. 15 pick. They were hoping Louisville's Earl Clark would slide out of the lottery but Phoenix took him at No. 14.
Daye is a stick figure - 193 pounds - but under strength coach Arnie Kander's program, the Pistons aren't worried about his build. They think he can develop into a versatile forward in the mold of Lamar Odom or Rashard Lewis. Daye certainly has the offensive skills to add to the Pistons' anemic attack.
"We like his skill set, we like his growth and we like his basketball IQ," Joe Dumars said. "He's an extremely smart young player being around the game all his life, and he's also a high-character guy."
Daye's father, Darren, played five NBA seasons.


Lots of trade talks are going on around them but it looks like the Pistons are staying put with the No. 15 overall pick. Sacramento apparently tried to trade up and give the Pistons two lower picks, but that made no sense for Detroit because it has three second-rounders and didn't want five picks bunched together.
Watch carefully what the Bulls do in this draft. If they pick a shooting guard - they are reportedly interested in Terrence Williams - that may be a signal they're not going to get into a bidding war with the Pistons over Ben Gordon.
As for Carlos Boozer, the Pistons' brass is a little leery of his price range. They'd be interested if he wanted a starting salary of $10 to $12 million with normal yearly raises. If he wants $15 million, he'll price himself out of the market.
There's also a lot of Amare Stoudemire rumors flying around and you've got to believe the Pistons would be interested, but only if Stoudemire agreed to an extension. Same goes for Chris Bosh, who has no intention of returning to Toronto when he becomes a free agent after next season.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Joe Dumars spoke to the media a day before the annual NBA draft. Nothing earthshattering in his comments, though he did offer some tidbits:
1. He wants a frontcourt player with the team's first-round selection, to the No. 15 overall. So much for picking the best player available nonsense.
2. He doesn't plan to trade the pick, or try to move into the lottery. He basically feels he can get just as good a player at No. 15 as he could early in the lottery.
3. He wants to come out of this offseason with three "good" players - the first-rounder, plus two impact players through free agency and/or trades.
For more, see Thursday's editions of The Oakland Press

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Tired of waiting for potential to turn into production, the Pistons traded Amir Johnson to Milwaukee Tuesday in what was essentially a salary dump.
The Pistons took back center Fabricio Oberto, whom the Bucks acquired earlier in the day in the Richard Jefferson deal with San Antonio.
Oberto has only $1.8 million of his $3.5 million contract guaranteed for next season. Once he's waived, the Pistons will save $1.9 million in salary.
That will get them closer to $20 million under the cap once the free agent market opens next week. Of course, the Pistons are expected to be the most aggressive team on the market, with Carlos Boozer and Ben Gordon at the top of their wish list.


A trade rumor reported on ESPN had the Pistons rejecting a Boston proposal in which the Celtics would have dealt their starting backcourt - Ray Allen and  Rajon Rondo - for Detroit's 3 perimeter starters - Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey.
If there's any truth to it, it's an audacious proposal by Boston. Allen is on the downside of his career, so you'd basically be giving up 3 starters over the long term for Rondo. If you took Prince or Hamilton out of the equation, that would be an equitable but somewhat useless trade. How would that make the Pistons dramatically better?
I'm sure they'll be several more rumors like this before the Pistons either sign a couple of free agents next month, or make a huge deal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


One of the top NBA draft sites insists that the Pistons have made a guarantee to Ohio State freshman center B.J. Mullens that he's their guy if he's available with the No. 15 pick.
Ordinarily, I would quickly dismiss such talk and I am skeptical about this one, too. But I do remember how the talk two years ago was that the Pistons were enamored with Rodney Stuckey and that turned out to be true.
Giving the current rumor more credence is the Mullens' agent is Andy Miller, who also represents Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess. Joe Dumars and Miller have a very solid relationship, so it wouldn't shock if the Pistons gave Miller some sort of indication that they really liked Mullens.
Of course, we won't know for sure until Thursday night.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The Pistons brought in a dozen more draft prospects this week. Among that group was senior forwards Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll from Missouri; senior forward Alfred Aboya from UCLA; and junior guards Daniel Hackett (USC) and Eric Devendorf (Syracuse).
There has been some speculation that the Pistons made a draft promise to either Gonzaga forward Austin Daye or Ohio State center BJ Mullens. I don't think the Pistons like anyone at the No. 15 overall spot to make any promises. I certainly don't see them picking Mullens, despite their obvious need at center. They're in a win-now mode and Mullens had his hands full learning the college game for one season with the Buckeyes.
I also don't think it's going to be DaJuan Blair of Pittsburgh. I think he's too much of a Jason Maxiell clone. Daye's body shape is similar to Tayshaun Prince. Do you really need two of those guys?
My feeling is if they draft a frontcourt player up top, it will be either Louisville's Earl Clark or North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I've heard in some corners that the Pistons might be one of the teams that will pursue Hedo Turkoglu. I don't see how he can significantly improve the Pistons.
He's a better shooter than Tayshaun Prince but otherwise, he's not an upgrade at the small forward position. Prince is a better defender and shotblocker. Both can handle the ball well - I suspect if Tay were playing with Dwight Howard, he'd be running pick and rolls with him, too. What big man will Hedo run that play with on the Pistons?

Monday, June 15, 2009


How far have the Pistons fallen in the eyes of Las Vegas oddsmakers? has posted odds for the 2010 NBA championship. The Los Angeles Lakers, of course, are the favorites at 9-4 (slightly more than 2-1). Cleveland is next at 3-1, followed by Boston (9-2) and Orlando (15-2 or 7 1/2-1). Where are the Pistons? 11th among the 30 teams at a whopping 45-1. But that still puts them ahead of Eastern Conference playoff teams Atlanta, Miami and Chicago, who are all 50-1 propositions.


We saw a rematch in the Stanley Cup Finals this year. It would come as no surprise if the same thing developed in the NBA next season.
The Lakers, with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, are a powerhouse. They won the title despite not getting much in the playoffs from Andrew Bynum, whom they hope will develop into a franchise player.
Dwight Howard isn't going anywhere and his offensive game should improve as the years go by. The key for  the Magic is to resign Hedo Turkoglu, who will probably opt out of his contract. Orlando's offense revolves around Hedo's ability to run pick-and-rolls from the small forward spot.

Friday, June 12, 2009


The Orlando Magic had every chance to tie the NBA Finals at 2-2 on Thursday night. But ultimately, their inexperience in these situations and their poor free throw shooting did them in. Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard each missed crucial free throws late in regulation. Had they made just one more, Derek Fisher couldn't have tied the game with the first of his two huge 3-pointers.
The Magic had trouble inbounding the ball a few times after timeouts, reinforcing my feeling that the best way to blow up such plays is to hound the inbounder. Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom did a good job of contesting those passes.
I also have to fault Stan Van Gundy for riding rusty Jameer Nelson through the fourth quarter and overtime. Yes, Nelson made some nice decisions but he was no threat to score. He also made a terrible decision to back off Fisher on that tying 3-pointer. At some point, Van Gundy should have gone back to Rafer Alston, who could have created a game-winning shot on one of those late possessions.
Now, with the series 3-1, the Lakers will wrap things up in Game 5 Sunday or Game 6 Tuesday. Orlando knows it won't win twice in L.A., so it might not put forth enough effort to prevent Kobe & Co. from celebrating on the Magic's home floor Sunday.

Monday, June 8, 2009


One blown layup cost Orlando the chance to steal homecourt advantage in Game 2 of the Finals. Stan Van Gundy drew up a perfect play with .6 seconds left in regulation and the game tied. He had Hedo Turkoglu, the inbounder, throw a lob pass. But instead of it going to a big man, as the Lakers anticipated, shooting guard Courtney Lee snuck in behind the defense. But Lee, who had missed a runner during the final minute, bounced it off the glass and front rim.
That probably cost the Magic the series. They now have to win 4 of 5.
I'm still sticking with my original prediction - Lakers in 7. Orlando played much better in Game 2 as all of their frontcourt players increased their offensive production. They now have to sort out what to do with the point guard situation, complicated by the return of Jameer Nelson. For a crucial stretch in the late going, Van Gundy didn't use Nelson or starter Rafer Alston, instead having Turkoglu bring up the ball. I thought that was a mistake - they had four turnovers during that stretch.
I think Van Gundy should stick with Alston, spot in Nelson during the second quarter and about 6-8 minutes midway through the second half, then play the hot hand down the stretch.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Allen Iverson still wants to play basketball - on his terms, of course. And guess who might give him the chance next season?
Yep. his old coach in Philadelphia. Larry Brown said he'd be more than willing to take AI back and give his team an offensive spark. Charlotte ranked last in the league in scoring this season.
AI better hope that LB doesn't study the replays of AI's stormy season in Detroit. It was clear to me that AI had lost a step or two and his drives to the basket became increasingly unproductive. I was amazed how often he missed layups and shots within five feet of the basket. And when he didn't put it up, he had an annoying habit of dribbling through the lane and going back outside, rather than looking to pass it to a big man in the lane.
All I can say to LB if the Bobcats sign Iverson as a free agent this summer is good luck. He'll need plenty of it, if he's expecting AI to be the piece that puts Charlotte in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


The NBA Finals of 2009 doesn't have the glitz and glamor of the Boston-Los Angeles matchup a year ago but it should be more competitive and closer. The Lakers are very hungry after flopping to the tougher Celtics last June, while Orlando has zero pressure on it after vanquishing heavily-favored Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic could be like the Pistons of 2004 - being so loose that they feel they can do anything. And with Dwight Howard playing like he did against the Cavs, they have a right to feel that way.
Orlando beat L.A. in both regular-season games, so there's no intimidation factor going for the Lakers. But I do think Los Angeles will use the home-court advantage to squeak out a thriller, seven-game series. They have better athletes on the perimeter to distract the Magic's 3-point shooters and the combo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum should be somewhat more effective on Howard than Cleveland's lumbering big men.

Monday, June 1, 2009


To shake or not to shake?
That is the question in the wake of LeBron James' decision to ignore the usual post-series handshakes after his Cavaliers were eliminated by the Magic.
What has made the controversy linger is James' refusal to apologize for his behavior, even at the risk of looking like a poor sport to his legions of fans, particularly youngsters. James basically said he didn't see any reason why he should congratulate the people who just beat up him and his team.
I do think the whole handshake thing is overrated. Being a poor sport has more to do with the way you play and act during a series than whether you exchange a few meaningless handshakes and hugs with the opposing team afterward. It's especially strange to see hockey teams who just beat the daylights out of each other exchanging pleasantries after a series.
But this isn't an issue for LeBron to make some sort of a statement about such traditions. It's more important that he sends a message to his young fans to act with class and dignity in the face of adversity and disappointment. From that standpoint, LeBron has disappointed a lot of people.