TO TRADE OR NOT TO TRADE?
More than a month has gone by since Joe Dumars proclaimed there were no sacred cows on his team - a statement he later amended to exclude Rodney Stuckey.
All of the top players who lost their sacred cow status are still members of the Pistons organization.
What's going on? It's a lot more difficult to make a significant trade than the average fan would think.
Everyone wants to be the team to pull off this year's version of the Kevin Garnett deal and put itself over the top. But auctions for long-term superstars with most of their skills intact don't happen very often.
The Boston-Minnesota trade brought together the perfect trading partners. The Timberwolves had decided to finally cut ties with Garnett. They wanted to rebuild around younger players and improve their salary-cap situation. The Celtics had the young players and expiring contracts they desired. Throw in the Kevin McHale-Danny Ainge connection and you had just the right mix to bring both parties together.
The Pistons are looking for a dominating post player and/or prolific scorer to shake up their core. They basically have proven veterans to offer in return, along with Rasheed Wallace's expiring contract. The only intriguing young player that might interest a trading partner is Amir Johnson.
A package like that only makes sense for a team that has struggled to make the playoffs or can't get out of the early rounds. That significantly reduces the list of potential trading partners.
A few weeks ago, I tossed out the names of Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor and LaMarcus Aldridge as the players most likely to come to Detroit in a major deal.
That list has probably been reduced to four. Brand opted out of his contract and became an unrestricted free agent. Okafor is a restricted free agent.
If the Pistons want them, they'd have to work out a sign-and-trade with the Clippers or Bobcats, respectively. Giving Brand or Okafor gobs of money means they better be franchise players who can carry you to championships. I don't think either fits that bill.
That leaves Stoudemire, McGrady, Nowitzki and Aldridge. Phoenix seems to be in a go-for-it and cost-cutting mode at the same time, plus it has ex-Pistons assistant Terry Porter as its new head coach. That's why I don't feel a Stoudemire deal is out of the question.
Houston and Dallas haven't gotten out of the first round lately. One of those franchises could decide at some point this summer to retool its roster around some guys who have been to the conference finals year after year. And Portland needs a veteran presence (Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince) to balance out its impressive young core of players.
So, don't despair Pistons fans. There's still almost three months until training camp and plenty of time for Dumars to pull the trigger.