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Proposal to Keep Talent from Jumping Ship

It’s becoming all too common for star players to want out of the team that drafted them and head to bigger markets and/or form super teams with other big names.

  • Former 1st overall selection LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami in the cap space bonanza summer that was 2010.
  • Chris Bosh, taken three spots after James, also left for Miami from Toronto to form a super team with Dwyane Wade completing the three-headed monster.
  • Former #9 pick in 2002 Amare Stoudemire left Phoenix for New York for the pricey sum of $20 million annually.
  • Third in the 2003 draft, Carmelo Anthony, called the shots on his way to New York from Denver.
  • #3 selection Deron Williams requested out of Utah and was sent to New Jersey.
  • Taken one spot after Williams in 2004, Chris Paul let it be known that New Orleans was not his long-term home and a total shitstorm has ensued in the efforts to move him.
  • The next domino, first overall selection in 2004 Dwight Howard, has reportedly asked out with his preferred destinations being the reigning champion Dallas Mavericks, Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers, and up and coming New Jersey Nets.

These players have all the leverage when they request a trade the year before their deal expires, forcing the hand of their teams to either keep them and lose them for nothing, or trade them to a short list of desired teams in order to get some return on the player.

My proposal would be an attempt to revamp free agency when the next CBA negotiations take place (likely in six years when either side is able to opt out).  Following in the footsteps of the NFL, there would be a built-in mechanism to reward teams that have restricted free agents accept offers from rivals, leaving the teams that drafted them empty-handed should they be unable or choose not to match.

There would be four tiers of qualifying offers that teams could make on their restricted free agent.

  1. The team can offer their free agent 250% of their previous salary for one season.   If another team is to offer restricted free agent that goes unmatched, the bidding team will give two first- and two second-round picks, to be redeemed at the home team’s discretion in a three year window.
  2. The 200% qualifying offer will result in the home team receiving one first- and one second-round pick from the bidding team, to be exercised within a three year window.
  3. A 150% qualifying offer will yield a second-round pick for the home team within three years.

An example would be our very own G Rodney Stuckey, selected 15th overall in 2007.  If you follow the twitters, his (unverified) account has indicated that he’d like a fresh start and would head to Portland ASAP to fill the hole left by the retiring SG Brandon Roy.  Now, the Pistons would like the opportunity to hold onto any player on their roster with positive trade value (not Jason Maxiell, not Charlie Villanueva, not Ben Gordon…) and would not like to see another drafted player achieve greater success outside of Detroit (see Arron Afflalo, Carlos Delfino, Mehmet Okur).  Under my proposal, a tier 1 qualifying offer would guarantee Rodney Stuckey  $6.91 million, tier 2  $5.53, and tier 3 $4.13.
Rodney Stuckey is likely worth more than the approximate $7 million that a tier 1 offer would afford him, considering SG Marcus Thornton just received $8 million over four years from the Sacramento Kings and Stuckey is almost certainly a superior player.  The question is: is Rodney Stuckey worth $7 million+, two first rounders, and two second rounders?

If he is, then he will be happy to go to the team of his choice that wants him that badly.  If he isn’t, then his market value has been determined and he should be grateful that the Pistons want to keep him despite his interest in leaving.  If the Pistons decide to match, then Stuckey should be respect the vote of confidence that Detroit made in matching the contract offer that the bidding team provided.

I will have two other posts coming up shortly provided other mechanisms that will try to prevent the formation of superteams in big markets and/or reward teams that draft well and/or keep talent in small markets.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Lawrence Frank is not Bill Laimbeer. Happy Regardless!

While it hasn’t been officially announced, it is widely known that Lawrence Frank will be named the next head coach for the Detroit Pistons.

This is a win for a variety of reasons:

  • Lawrence Frank understands that there are two sides to the court, one of them being defensive.  The Pistons rank as one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA.  Detroit claims the worst differential regarding points in the paint, grab the fewest rebounds, and are generally poor at protecting the basket.
    The Pistons had enough players of the scoring variety, as Ben Gordon has a career high of 21.4ppg, Richard Hamilton 20.1, Rodney Stuckey 16.6, Charlie Villanueva at 16.2, and Tayshaun Prince at 14.7ppg.  Considering that Austin Daye is largely an offensive threat and that Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko can reach double-digits without having many plays ran for them, a coach that emphasizes defense is a must in the project of returning the Pistons to competence.
  • He’s not a first-year coach!  Unlike the recently-fired John Kuester and former Piston Michael Curry, Lawrence Frank, Frank coached for parts of seven seasons in the NBA and spent a season learning from Doc Rivers.
    Kuester was an apprentice of the largely incompetent Mike Brown (now HC of the LAL) with Cleveland, and Curry learned from Flip Saunders the season that the entirety of the Pistons roster tuned Flip out.  Frank spent a season learning from a championship-bearing coach before jumping back into things.
  • The Pistons are finally distancing themselves from the 2004 championship formula by hiring from outside of the franchise.  Mike Woodson, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks, was an assistant to Larry Brown the last time we won a ‘ship, and Detroit is better off by not overvaluing components of that title run.  A coach who won’t favor Richard Hamilton or Ben Wallace or Tayshaun Prince (if he returns) will go a long way in winning back control of the locker room.
    It’s enough that general manager Joe Dumars has tried to replicate the 2004 roster (Rodney Stuckey=Chauncey Billups w/o jumper; Richard Hamilton=himself, Ben Gordon=Mike James; Tayshaun Prince=himself; Austin Daye=Tayshaun Prince, offensive version; Charlie Villanueva=Rasheed Wallace; Ben Wallace=himself, etc…), and it’s about time for a coach that will look to embrace the differences in ability and talent between our current core and the old regime.
  • The Pistons are a guard-heavy team, and Lawrence Frank has coached some of the best.  With Boston he had the pleasure of working with Rajon Rondo, third in assists average last season, and Ray Allen, one of the purest shooters in league history.  His stint in New Jersey saw him manage Jason Kidd, arguably a top five PG of all time, and Devin Harris, currently a mismanaged top 10 floor general.  If there was anybody available that could mold Rodney Stuckey into a genuine PG, it’s Lawrence Frank.
  • Frank has time to assemble his staff and adequately evaluate his personnel during the lockout.  By hiring Frank in a timely fashion, Lawrence will have more preparation than the average off-season coach hire would.  He’ll need it, as somebody needs to figure out how to improve the team’s presence in the paint with marginal talent, as well as how to involve all of our backcourt threats (Stuckey, Hamilton, Gordon, Will Bynum, Brandon Knight) until a trade is completed.
Under different circumstances, such as the Pistons coming out of the draft with FC Bismack Biyombo, I would have advocated for the hiring of Rick Adelman, formerly of the Houston Rockets and renowned for his successes with the Sacramento Kings.  He would have known how to best take advantage of the passing and playmaking abilities of bigs Greg Monroe and Charlie Villanueva, as Chris Webber and Vlade Divac dazzled with their ball movement and high-low post game in Sacramento.  I am frustrated that there are no reports of the Pistons reaching out to Adelman when he’s been in contact with the clusterfuck Minnesota Timberwolves about their vacant position.
While Bill Laimbeer was passed over for the head coaching position, I am still holding out hope for him to return to the franchise he loves as a big man specialist and lead assistant.  Laimbeer made a career out of rebounding and hustling despite mediocre athletic ability and he’d be a great example for Villanueva and Monroe and Jonas Jerebko to follow.
The Detroit Pistons did the right thing by doing their homework on all the head coaching candidates (aside from Adelman, ugh) and taking their time before settling on the right man for the job.  It is unclear whether Joe Dumars or new owner Tom Gores is more responsible for the decision, but either way, it was a correct one.  I’ll be excited to see if Frank can become the Pistons longest-tenured coach since Flip Saunders (three seasons), hoping that we have finally found somebody that can match Chuck Daly’s nine years with the Pistons.
 
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

http://www.freep.com/article/20110712/SPORTS03/107120379/1048/sports According to Tayshaun Prince’s agent, Bill Duffy, the Pistons had reached out to him about their desire to have him return prior to the lockout. A couple questions arise: a) Why would the Pistons want him back? b) Would Tayshaun consider returning? c) How much could/would/should his new contract be worth?

The Pistons depth chart, assuming no free agents return, all drafted rookies get a roster spot, and seniority is largely determined by salary:
PG Rodney Stuckey (QO or extension)/Brandon Knight/Will Bynum
SG Ben Gordon or Richard Hamilton/Terrico White*
SF Austin Daye/Jonas Jerebko/Kyle Singler
PF Charlie Villanueva/Jason Maxiell
C Greg Monroe/Ben Wallace/Vernon Macklin

Flexibility helps us out, as Stuckey loses no effectiveness by sliding over to SG, nor do Jonas Jerebko or Greg Monroe at PF.  Daye has also had some success at SG. as has Richard Hamilton at SF.

If we have four players capable of playing SF, is there really any room for Tayshaun Prince if he were to return?

  • The Pistons have invested in Austin Daye, giving him 20 minutes a game last season.  He was said to be a 3-4 year project when he was drafted in 2009, and when the lockout ends we’ll be entering season 3.
  • Two seasons ago, during Jonas Jerebko’s roookie season, he was a starter for the Pistons at SF and was at times our best player and always the most consistent.  The only reason he doesn’t have the a stronghold over the starting position is his long recovery from an achilles injury.
  • Kyle Singer was drafted early in the second round of the 2011 draft, and he is considered one of the most NBA ready players entering the league.  His toughness and intangibles at the position are intriguing, to say the least.
  • As I’ve mentioned before, the best way to get both the values of Ben Gordon and Richard Hamilton up are to give them the minutes they deserve, and Hamilton’s may have to come at the SF position.
It is clear to me that the Pistons have already invested quite a bit into these four men, and that Joe’s reputation is at stake if any more of his draft picks don’t pan out or if he is unable to move or justify the contract given to Hamilton.
Tayshaun has had to endure three consecutive losing seasons and three different coaches in four seasons; I highly doubt he’d be willing to experience a fourth in five.  He is already 31 years old with more wear on his tires than the average player his age.  He has played in nearly a season and a half’s worth of postseason games and has had two summers of international competition on top of that.  At this point in his career, he’s either looking for one last payday, the best chance at a championship, or both.  The Pistons will have the ability to offer him the most money for the most seasons, but he could get comparable offers from other teams that would compete with the Pistons’ deal.  He has made, according to http://www.basketball-reference.com, some $52.2 million over his career, so another team willing to give him 15 or so million over three years should be enough to entice him to leave regardless of what Detroit offers.
I’m suspicious that this news was leaked by Prince’s agent to drum up preemptive interest in his client.  It really is in the best interests of both parties for Tayshaun to move on to a contender, which the Pistons do not project to be for quite some time.  Here are some teams that ought to display mutual interest:
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder-backing up and sometimes playing alongside Kevin Durant, displacing Daequan Cook and Thabo Sefolosha.  Assuming the salary cap remains in the new CBA and isn’t lowered, they would have the cap space to sign Tayshaun to a fair deal outright.
  • The Los Angeles Clippers-Tayshaun is from Compton, California, and they have a glaring hole at the SF position.  The opportunity to play alongside a franchise player in Blake Griffin, alongside strong play from the center position in DeAndre Jordan and Chris Kaman, could be too much for Prince to pass up.  If he helps build up the team before he retires, he and the fans would likely be satisfied in his decision to head to the West Coast.
  • The Houston Rockets-Barely missing the playoffs last season, the Rockets have decent pieces in place with SG Kevin Martin and PF Luis Scola.  After making several moves lately, acquiring Prince could be enough to push them over the hump.  His competition at SF would be Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger, a fight he would easily win.
 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Which Free Agent C to Pursue?

Whenever the NBA owners and player’s association can agree on a new collective bargaining agreement the Detroit Pistons can resume addressing the roster.  No trades or free agent signings can occur until then.

Currently, our only glaring hole is not having a true center on the roster, assuming you aren’t satisfied with 6’7″ Jason Maxiell manning the position when Greg Monroe and Ben Wallace aren’t in the game.  While I expect rookie Vernon Macklin to make the team-but not the active roster-he was a power forward in college at Florida and players typically don’t assume “bigger” positions in the move to the pros.  Our only options at this point will be to try to move some of our “bad” contracts in SGs Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon and PF Ben Gordon for a center, or attempt to find a diamond in the rough in the 2011 free agent class.

Here is a link to all the 2011 free agents that had their contracts expire after the 2010-2011 season, as well as some others that have been linked to the NBA: http://hoopshype.com/free_agency.htm

Assuming that Greg Monroe is going to play primarily at C and that Ben Wallace is ready and able to be his primary backup, we can take a flyer on a young big with potential.  Allow me to throw out some names:

Of course I’d also like to throw (reasonable) bucks at Greg Oden and see how he and Portland respond, but I think Portland matches.  He is the only dominant defensive post player available.  Besides him, the best we can do are FCs that complement Monroe or plodding Cs that can back him up.
 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Case for a Third Draft Round

The second round of the 2011 NBA draft was downright silly.  Several foreign prospects were selected, many of which will likely never come stateside, while many local prospects went undrafted.  Michigan State saw Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers go sixty picks without hearing their names called.  Greg Smith out of Fresno State, Scotty Hopson of Tennessee, Demetri McCamey of Illinois, Malcolm Thomas of San Diego State University, and many more have seen a wrench thrown in their NBA plans, while a player who wasn’t even eligible for the NBA draft was selected in Targuy Ngombo.

If I were drafting a new CBA, I would include a third round.  In doing so, I would alter the rights and privileges granted to those drafted in the second round.  In order to better cultivate local talent, second round draft picks would be guaranteed a contract with the NBDL affiliate team of the NBA club that drafted them.  In this setup, all the local fans in Ohio that are shocked about David Lighty being passed up sixty times could have instead seen him drafted where Milan Macvan was, as the third round would unofficially be a draft-and-stash round where major projects are selected.  The NBDL would benefit from having “big names” play for them, the draftees would benefit from having a contract and the chance of getting called up to the big leagues, and we as fans wouldn’t see our favorite college players immediately fade into obscurity by virtue of playing overseas.

Win-win-win?

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Are Hamilton/Gordon/Villanueva Underproducing?

When listening to talk radio and reading opinion on the interwebs, Rip Hamilton is the consensus choice of player to be moved.  They point to his advancing age (33), his decreasing statistical output (last two seasons were his two lowest scoring totals besides his rookie year), and the logjam at shooting guard as pros (with Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon and Terrico White).

If he’s moved, it should be because he’s developed a reputation as a coach killer and wants out, not because the new coach can’t be creative and find ways to get the most talented players on the floor or find them ample shot opportunities.  Hamilton isn’t the only player that was improperly utilized under head coach John Kuester, and the other two names also find themselves on the trading block: Ben Gordon and power forward Charlie Villanueva.

Let’s take a look at how they’ve done statistically:

Richard Hamilton

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 31 DET NBA 46 46 1552 6.8 16.6 .409 1.0 3.2 .297 4.7 5.6 .846 0.7 2.1 2.8 4.7 0.7 0.1 2.7 2.7 19.3
2010-11 32 DET NBA 55 39 1498 6.9 16.1 .429 1.3 3.5 .382 3.5 4.1 .849 0.6 2.5 3.0 4.1 0.9 0.1 2.1 2.3 18.7
Career NBA 843 710 27774 7.3 16.2 .450 0.6 1.9 .347 4.1 4.8 .852 1.0 2.5 3.5 3.8 0.9 0.2 2.4 2.8 19.3

As you can see, per 36 minutes, Hamilton’s statistical output the past two seasons was on par with his career averages.  Rip Hamilton’s problems last season were simply due to his playing fewer minutes per game and fewer games overall.  The fact that his on-court production per minute wasn’t affected by coaching “buffoonery” is to his credit.  Rip’s trademark playing style was virtually absent last season, as he wasn’t ran off of screens or enjoying the offense being ran through him off the ball.
I suggest moving him to SF, not sitting him when he’s healthy, playing him 30-36 minutes a game, and emphasizing the the plays that brought him and the team success in the past.

Ben Gordon

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 31 DET NBA 46 46 1552 6.8 16.6 .409 1.0 3.2 .297 4.7 5.6 .846 0.7 2.1 2.8 4.7 0.7 0.1 2.7 2.7 19.3
2010-11 32 DET NBA 55 39 1498 6.9 16.1 .429 1.3 3.5 .382 3.5 4.1 .849 0.6 2.5 3.0 4.1 0.9 0.1 2.1 2.3 18.7
Career NBA 843 710 27774 7.3 16.2 .450 0.6 1.9 .347 4.1 4.8 .852 1.0 2.5 3.5 3.8 0.9 0.2 2.4 2.8 19.3

Again, Gordon’s stats are very similar to his career averages per36 minutes.  His overall field goal percentage is slightly down, but otherwise he’s the same player he was with Chicago.  John Kuester essentially turned BG7 (soon to be BG8) into a spot-up jumpshooter, when really he’s an assassin that demands the ball in his hands and the ability to create his own shot.  If you need a refresher, watch this video of him dominating the Celtics in a playoff game a few years back:

Watching Ben Gordon from 2009-2011 and contrasting it with how he played as a Chicago Bull would lead you to believe that they are two different people.  Gordon needs to start at SG, receive starting minutes, and always be the #1 or 2 option at all times when on the court with the green light to look for his own shot.

Charlie Villanueva

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 25 DET NBA 78 16 1848 7.1 16.1 .439 1.9 5.5 .351 2.1 2.5 .815 1.7 5.5 7.1 1.0 0.9 1.1 1.4 4.3 18.1
2010-11 26 DET NBA 76 11 1666 6.8 15.3 .442 2.7 7.0 .387 1.9 2.5 .767 1.1 5.3 6.4 1.0 0.9 0.9 1.4 3.8 18.2
Career NBA 428 158 10783 7.1 15.9 .448 1.6 4.5 .346 2.4 3.0 .790 2.3 5.7 8.0 1.5 0.8 0.9 1.8 3.9 18.1
As we can see, Charlie has been pretty consistent relative to his career statistics except for less of an effort on the defensive class and many more three point attempts.  Lest he take a Rasheed Wallace career trajectory, we need him to fall out of love with the three ball and get his butt back in the post, where he is a match-up nightmare for most players.  He averaged 25 minutes per game for his career but only 23.7 and 21.9 in his first two season with the Pistons.  Villanueva needs to play at least 24 minutes a game to be worth his contract.
In summary: all three of these bloated contracts are actually producing similarly per minute as they always have.  If the new Pistons coach can find a way to get all three the minutes they deserve (24 for CV, about 32 for Hamilton, 30 for BG) and have them score the way they used to.  Hamilton needs to curl off of screens, Gordon needs to break down defenders using his dribble and hesitation moves, and Villanueva needs to stop being so one-dimensional.
 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Post Draft: Where Do We Stand?

I hope it”s not breaking news that the Pistons selected PG Brandon Knight from Kentucky at #8, SF Kyle Singler at #33, and big man Vernon Macklni at #52 in the NBA Draft last night.  At the Pistons draft party, Joe Dumars indicated that he expected all three to contribute and alluded to the positions that they will play.  At first glance, we filled all three of our biggest needs: a) PG more pure than Bynum and Stuckey with range, b) SF that brings toughness that Austin Daye may lack, and c) big man capable of playing center and banging in the post.  Unexpectedly, we acquired these players in an order that was reverse of the expected.

Anybody with an ounce of sense can see that the Pistons still have need for a rotation-worthy big man, and are offering up one of SGs Richard Hamilton or Ben Gordon.  The most obvious targets are any of the four preexisting big  men on the Utah Jazz: PFs Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors and FCs Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur.

I argue that we hold off on that trade.

The trade values of Gordon and Hamilton were low before, if not negative, and now every team in the league knows that we need to unload at least one of our high-paid guards.  We need to play both of them heavy minutes and provide them with enough shots to get their values back up.  Similar to how Don Nelson’s Golden State Warriors and Phoenix’s Mark D’Antonio used to push the ball and “artificially” inflate their players’ stats, the Pistons should hire a coach that is willing to run and employ small lineups.  When you have many weaknesses and are not able to mask them, you may as well play up your strengths, that being our backcourt.

Here is the three-deep, nine-man  lineup I suggest:

PG Brandon Knight/Rodney Stuckey/Will Bynum
SG Rodney Stuckey/Ben Gordon/Richard Hamilton
SF Richard Hamilton/Austin Daye/Jonas Jerebko
PF Jonas Jerebko/Charlie Villanueva/Jason Maxiell
C Greg Monroe/Ben Wallace/Vernon Macklin*

That team may seem undersized (because it is) but it’s the best way to give minutes to the players that need and deserve them.  Ben Gordon needs to be allowed to create his own shots and shoot with a green light, and Hamilton needs to have plays ran for him off of curls, both as the #1 or 2 option at all times on the floor.  This is the best way to convince other teams that our 12.5 and 11.6 million dollar men are worth trading for without major incentives (draft picks, young prospects, taking back a bad contract).
This team would have to have to rely on Ben Wallace for reasonably heavy minutes until a younger center is acquired, and all three of Ben and Jerebko and Monroe are going to have to focus the majority of their efforts on rebounding and finding bunnies for themselves.

Tomorrow I’ll detail why Lawrence Frank is now the man for the job after our new additions…yet there’s still a place for Bill Laimbeer.  Stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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