Friday, November 28, 2008
CURRY ACES FIRST EXAM
A rookie head coach is going to get tested, sooner or later. Michael Curry got his first challenge on Thursday and met it head on.
Curry could have easily swept Allen Iverson's absence from a Thanksgiving practice under the rug. It wouldn't have been difficult to keep it quiet - there were very few media members at the holiday practice and they're not allowed to watch until the very end of the practice session.
He could have also given Iverson a pass on his first offense with the team.
Instead, he was forthright about Iverson's absence and let everyone know of the consequences. Iverson was pulled from the starting lineup against Milwaukee and got fined.
"As head of the team, I have to make sure that I hold everybody, regardless of who it is, to the same standard," Curry said.
That's an approach that will earn him plenty of respect in the locker room. The biggest beef that the players had with Flip Saunders is that he wasn't tough enough behind the scenes when incidents happened, particularly involving Rasheed Wallace. Remember Wallace showing up late for the team shootaround before Game 6 of the conference finals? You've got to believe that wouldn't have happened if Wallace knew he'd be benched for that type of infraction.
As long as Curry remains consistent with his penalties, he'll go a long way toward retaining the players' support.
"(Curry) did a good job of handling it," Tayshaun Prince said. "For a guy who's late, we brought these things to the table at the beginning of the season, as far as rules and regulations and what he expects from us. If you don't do it, he said you're going to be taken care of and we're going to move on. He's not going to treat it as 'You're late. I'm going to keep it in the back of my mind.'"
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
FEELING ALMOST WHOLE AGAIN
The news that Antonio McDyess will be back in a Pistons uniform next month brought joy to their practice facility Monday, even though head coach Michael Curry conducted a hard, 3-hour practice following the team's 26-point loss to woebegone Minnesota Sunday.
McDyess' agent, Andy Miller, told several news outlets that McDyess had made up his mind to come back to the team that traded him earlier this month to Denver. McDyess gave up a substantial amount of money in his buyout and offers from other contenders to become the Pistons' sixth man once again. He's eligible to re-sign on Dec. 7, 30 days after the deal became official.
"I'm definitely relieved that we'll have him back," Curry said. "Some of our guys that are being asked right now to play outside of their roles, they're going to be really excited to have Dice back."
McDyess' return will help in all areas - offensively with his post presence and defensively as a stopper on par with Rasheed Wallace. He's also a rebounding force.
He'll allow Curry to keep Wallace's minutes down to reasonable levels while giving the point guards another pick-and-roll partner.
"We knew coming in we didn't want to play Rasheed 38 or 40 minutes and we've had to do that," Curry said. "It will help Sheed and it will also help Max (Jason Maxiell) and Kwame Brown and Amir (Johnson). They can just be complimentary role men and they'll have another scorer on the court with them when Sheed is not in the game."
Wallace has been averaging 36 minutes and has exceeded that figure six times.
"You've definitely got to play differently," Wallace said. "I can't be as aggressive because I've got to watch my fouls because I know I'm needed on the floor."
The loss of McDyess and Chauncey Billups has also taken a toll on the club emotionally. They may have been the most popular players in the locker room. McDyess' smile, laughter and easy-going nature was sorely missed.
"The fact of getting Dice back, not just from a basketball standpoint but from having him around, you saw guys had a little more pep to their step today, they were a little more talkative," Curry said. "I told them that we've been walking around for a week or so like a cloud was over us."
Friday, November 21, 2008
LONGING FOR MCDYESS
All Michael Curry wants for Christmas is Antonio McDyess back in a PIstons uniform.
Curry has been very frank on how much his team misses McDyess, who was included in the Allen Iverson deal because of salary purposes. McDyess left $9 million on the table to take a buyout, rather than play for the Nuggets.
Though he's eligible to sign with any other team right now, McDyess cannot come back to the Pistons until Dec. 7 because of trade stipulations. The NBA wanted to discourage teams and players from quickly reuniting after a trade, thus making the deal look like a sham. If you recall, the Pistons got back Lindsey Hunter in no time after the Rasheed Wallace deal in 2004 because the Celtics didn't want him.
If not for McDyess' loyalty to the Pistons, there wouldn't even be a discussion about this. The impact of McDyess' inclusion in the trade was lost on most people. The focus has been on whether the Pistons are better off with Iverson at the point that Chauncey Billups. But Curry's rotation has been a game-to-game proposition because he doesn't believe there's enough scoring punch from the second unit. That's why Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince have been playing extra minutes in tight games. Put McDyess back into the equation and Curry can feel comfortable with putting all or most of the second unit on the floor for most of the second quarter, as well as the stretch from late in the third and early in the fourth.
On another front, Walter Herrmann suffered a mild concussion when he got hit in the jaw during the fourth quarter of the blowout loss in Boston. Trainer Mike Abdenour stayed with Herrmann in Boston while the rest of the team flew home shortly after the game. Herrmann was feeling much better Friday morning - he was on the same plane as yours truly coming back to Detroit.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
RIP, AI DON'T PRACTICE
Richard Hamilton missed practice Tuesday because of what head coach Michael Curry described as a family matter. Allen Iverson was at the practice facility but didn't go through any contact drills. He's been bothered by a sore left knee.
Both are expected to play Wednesday night against Cleveland.
"His body was kind of beat up, coming in here and the way he plays," Curry said. "We're just trying to get him up to par ... he went over a lot of stuff. He just didn't do the contact stuff."
Monday, November 17, 2008
NEW LOOK, SAME RESULT
With all that's been happening with the Detroit Pistons, it's hard to believe that they're only 10 games into the season. Already, we've had:
1. The big trade that was supposed to go down this summer;
2. A lineup change;
3. A scary halftime dizzy spell;
4. A rotation constantly in flux;
5. Games against both the Celtics and Lakers.
Through it all, the Pistons are winning as usual. Despite seven road games, they're 7-3 and one game behind Cleveland, their next opponent on Wednesday.
Their 3-1 West Coast trip was very impressive, considering how little time they've had to build chemistry with Allen Iverson. Already, you can see how Iverson changes the entire offensive equation. All three of the PIstons point guards - Iverson, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum - are fearless, attack-the-basket types. Rather than running the offense along the perimeter virtually every possession, they're evolving into a drive-and-kick team.
Richard Hamilton has the toughest adjustment after growing comfortable with coming off screens and having Chauncey Billups deliver him the ball. Hamilton also has to get used to being the No. 2 option on offense after being the team's leading scorer for six straight seasons.
By playing the point forward spot, Tayshaun Prince has remained a constant factor in the offense despite Iverson's presence. That feeds into Michael Curry's philosophy of having multiple threats on the floor at all times.
In case you missed it, Curry changed the lineup three games ago. Amir Johnson is out, Kwame Brown is in. Johnson was supposed to bring the first unit some energy but with Iverson replacing Billups, the concern over slow starts and coming out flat was greatly reduced. The Pistons needed more bulk and interior defense along the frontcourt and Brown provides that. He played well against the Lakers and Suns, though he got into foul trouble guarding Shaq and Amare Stoudemire.
Curry established roles for his bench players coming out of camp but the loss of Antonio McDyess has forced him to change things up on a nightly basis. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the reduced minutes for Jason Maxiell. He was their best reserve last season and now he's only playing 11 or 12 minutes a game, even with the lack of frontcourt depth. Makes you wonder whether locking Maxiell up for four more seasons at the start of the season was a wise move.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
AI AND RIP
How will Allen Iverson fit into the Pistons offense?
Michael Curry brought in a system where more players handle the ball, where motion is emphasized and multi-players become threats. Is that compatible with Iverson's skills?
Joe Dumars thinks so.
"The traditional offense has a point guard jsut standing up top," he said. "There's no sense in trading for Allen Iverson if you're just going to have him standing there. But if you're going to do a lot of movement, cutting, slashing, that plays right into his game."
The biggest adjustment for Iverson will be meshing with Richard Hamilton, one of the game's best off-the-ball, catch-and-shoot players. He's going to have to keep Hamilton, whose skills meshed so well with a patient point man like Chaunce Billups, happy by allowing Rip to score his usual 18-20 points a game. Hamilton, who hasn't talked to the media for two days about the trade, is despondent over the loss of his backcourt partner. Iverson will have to win him, and the rest of his teammates, over by making the sacrifices he promised during his introductory press conference Tuesday.
"Both have great basketball instincts and that's the key," Dumars said. "It's not so much how you run plays or what set it is, it's do you have basketball instincts? He has incredible basketball instincts. He averages seven, seven-and-a-half assists a game. That will be a real aggressive backcourt right there and that's what we're shooting for."
Sunday, November 2, 2008
MARBURY KNICKED UP
Stephon Marbury and his enormous contract are sitting on the inactive list these days, courtesy of new coach Mike D'Antoni. In D'Antoni's offense, the point guard must have a pass-first mentality and kick up the tempo. That's why Chris Duhon was signed as a free agent. Meanwhile, Marbury is growing increasingly frustrated with his situation. No one's going to trade for him, so he'll either be bought out or simply released. Next question would be - who would pick up Marbury? My gut says Miami, which is starting rookie Mario Chalmers at the point.
Marbury isn't the only big-name point man in exile. Jamaal Tinsley is still on Indiana's roster but he's not even with the team. The Pacers are trying to trade him but his contract is very hard to move.
By the way, have you seen what the Bulls are doing? Former starters Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon are coming off the bench. That's got to be the best pair of reserve guards in the NBA.