SOLITUDE OF SUMMER
Any sports fan who knows that I cover the Pistons has asked the same question this summer: When is the big trade coming?
It appears the final answer is: Never. At least not during this offseason.
Ultimately, Joe Dumars found out that no one was willing to give up a superstar for two or three of his very good players. Even Rasheed's expiring $13 million contract wasn't enough to entice potential trade partners to take some of the Pistons' former sacred cows.
The Kevin Garnett trade last season had to serve as a deterrent to teams that might have considered moving their best players. I figured early in the summer that Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki and Tracy McGrady were the most logical candidates for a blockbuster trade. But Phoenix and Dallas showed no inclination to move their top big men. The McGrady rumors got hot and heavy at one point but the Rockets wound up rolling the dice by adding Ron Artest to their lineup.
It's still quite possible if the Pistons get off to a slow start, the groundwork laid by exploring these trade possibilities this summer will pay off. Rasheed's contract will get more and more desirable to teams seeking salary-cap relief; If he doesn't get traded, the Pistons will give themselves a lot more options next offseason by shedding that contract.
Staying with basically the same mix won't excite season-ticket holders or generate more walk-up sales but the Pistons won't lose their elite status. Rodney Stuckey's special talent alone will make them better. Remember, Stuckey missed nearly two months with a broken hand last season and really didn't settle in until after the All-Star break.
Plus, Michael Curry has more confidence in the young guys off the bench than Flip Saunders did because Curry worked with those players regularly last season. You'll see more of Amir Johnson, Arron Afflalo and Walter Herrmann next year. What you won't see is a superstar scoring 25 or 30 points a night.