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An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Turns out that Walter Sharpe, the Pistons top pick, appeared in more college games than we knew about.
It was pointed out by a reader of this blog that Sharpe played in 40 college games, not 18 as previously reported. The discrepancy was due to the information sheet that was passed out to the media during draft night, apparently copied from the UAB media guide. His 2004-05 freshman season at Mississippi State, the first college he attended, was omitted. Sharpe appeared in 22 games that season but didn't play many minutes, as he averaged 2.4 points.
Sharpe admitted during a conference call that he needed to become a much better defender. He should have thrown in free throw and 3-point shooting into that mix. Sharpe put up Ben Wallace-like foul shooting numbers in college, averaging 49.5 percent on 112 attempts. He also only attempted three 3-pointers and missed them all.
Bottom line: The Pistons better get themselves another small forward through free agency because Sharpe needs to improve his game dramatically before he becomes a rotation player.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Say this about the Pistons' draft strategy Thursday night - at least they didn't go back to the same ol' boring routine.
We've come to expect that they'll go for seasoned college players with late first-round picks. It looked that way for a few minutes when they selected Indiana's D.J. White but we quickly learned they were just picking for the Sonics. The Pistons traded down to get two second-rounders and still wound up with the player they wanted, little-known Walter Sharpe out of UAB.
They're taking more than one leap of faith here witih Sharpe. First, they have to be sure that most of his past problems were due to narcolepsy, a condition that wasn't diagnosed until last fall. And they have to believe that what they saw in the practice facility - a guy with lottery-level skills - was the real deal.
Sharpe has only appeared in 18 games over the last four years, so no one really knows what he can do with steady playing time. But at the spot where the Pistons were picking, I like the idea of rolling the dice on a wild-card prospect. Joe Dumars said that all the other players they were considering in the first round were "long gone" by the time their pick came up. White, for example, was a lesser version of Jason Maxiell. Who needs two undersized power forwards?
Sharpe could either be a steal or a dud. The alternative was to draft a proven commodity that really wouldn't make them better. So why not give it a shot?
As for the other two second-rounders - Trent Plaisted and Deron Washington - they'll probably never play in a regular-season game. The Pistons want them to develop their skills in Europe and then try to fight for a roster spot in a year or two.
The free agent market opens up Tuesday. There are some big names on the list but the only way the Pistons could make a run at those players would be through the always difficult sign-and-trade route.
They do have their mid-level exception and will probably use at least part of it to pick up some bench help. There are plenty of unrestricted perimeter players on the list and that's the route they'll probably take, even with Sharpe on the roster. Mickael Pietrus, Bostjan Nachbar, Matt Barnes, Bonzi Wells, Devean George, Quinton Ross, Ricky Davis, Mo Evans, Michael Finley, Roger Mason, James Posey, Devin Brown will all be looking for new contracts and one of them will probably end up in a Pistons uniform.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

CHAUNCEY'S CALL? is reporting that the Pistons offered Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince for Carmelo Anthony and got rejected. it's uncertain if that was the package discussed but the Pistons are apparently very interested in Anthony. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars said he would target opponents' top player and Anthony might be the one who's most available.
This smells of something a little different. Is Chauncey pushing to go back home?
You read the tea leaves. The day after the Pistons were eliminated, Billups said he would try to rest up his sore hamstring and get ready for the Olympics. A few days before that 12-man roster is unveiled, he pulls out.
Was he told by the powers that be he wasn't going to be chosen? Billups cited undisclosed family reasons but it's fair to wonder if he knew he wasn't making the team and was given a face-saving alternative. If he's really dealing with a major family issue, perhaps it's something that makes him want to stay in Denver on a more regular basis.
I doubt his name would be thrown around in trade discussions with any other club. Billups still does major charity work in Denver and maybe he simply wants to go home.
Remember, when the Pistons re-signed him last summer, the intent was to have him retire as a Piston. Just a year later, his name is mentioned prominently in trade discussions. I doubt the Pistons have soured on his leadership skills that much.
Certainly, the emergence of Rodney Stuckey makes him more expendable but I still like the combo of Billups-Stuckey better than Stuckey-Rip Hamilton.
As stated in previous blogs, I'm not sold on Anthony being the answer. No doubt, he can score in bunches. But I still question his toughness, defense and character. He's going to court Tuesday for his DUI case, an incident that occured just before the playoffs. Is he the type of guy who can lead your team?
Perhaps Dumars is counting on his new no-nonsense coach, Michael Curry, to nudge Anthony toward a more mature outlook.
First, the Nuggets have to be willing to deal him. And that's not certain by any means. They'd rather change their roster around Anthony, rather than subtracting him from the mix.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Looks like Tayshaun Prince will be one of the 12 players chosen for the Olympic team. I'm not terribly surprised, even though a lot of Pistons fans are frustrated by the way he played in the conference finals.
The last U.S. Olympic team didn't have a lot of situational players and it cost them. Prince will be used as a defender/extra ballhandler when the situation dictates. For all of his offensive shortcomings in the conference finals, Prince did a much better job guarding Paul Pierce than the Lakers did in the Finals. And his defense against Andre Iguodala and Hedo Turkoglu were keys to the first- and second-round triumphs.
On a very different subject, the NBA draft is less than a week away. The PIstons are picking late in the first and second rounds, so they're not going to find a major impact player that way.
Many people were hoping that the Pistons could solve their backup small forward problem in this draft but they probably won't. There's an unusual lack of quality wing players, especially where they're picking. It's much more likely they'll add a piece to their power positions. A majority of the players projected to go in the bottom third of the first round are power forwards and/or centers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The Pistons' focus right now is finding another rotation player through the draft. They have the No. 29 pick, which means they're not going to find a starter that way. But their scouts believe the draft has good depth and that they can bring in someone who will help them next year, just like late-round pick Arron Afflalo did last season.
Free agency comes the following week but don't expect the Pistons to be particularly active. Joe Dumars has already stated that the free agent crop is weak. He might pick up another bench player using part of the team's mid-level exception but that's about it.
In terms of their own free agents - Jarvis Hayes, Lindsey Hunter, Walter Herrmann, Theo Ratliff, Juan Dixon - there's a very good chance none will be on the roster next season. Hunter will probably retire. Ratliff might do the same. If not, the PIstons might offer him a short-team deal.
I have to say most of the trade proposals I've seen thrown out by other members of the media have been laughable. I mentioned some potential trading partners a couple of weeks back and I still feel my instincts are correct. I don't think Dumars wants Carmelo Anthony as the face of his team. I can see him holding his cards until an Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand or Emeka Okafor becomes available at the right price. I also believe Portland might eventually be willing to give up LaMarcus Aldridge for a package that would include either Tayshaun Prince or Chauncey Billups. Prediction: One of those six players will be in a Pistons uniform next season.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Michael Curry's promotion to head coach ushers in a
new era of Pistons basketball. It could also be the
start of the second-longest coaching run in franchise
It only took Flip Saunders two-plus seasons to
accumulate enough wins to rank second on the
franchise's all-time list behind Chuck Daly.
Unless things go disastrously bad in the next couple
of years, I see Curry sticking around longer than any
of Daly's successors.
Joe Dumars did not have a prior relationship with the
previous three head coaches he hired. He has a tight
bond with Curry, which began in 1996 when Curry was
trying to break into the league. Dumars stuck out his
neck by hiring a novice coach and he'll give Curry
time to work through his inexperience.
Curry's tough talk during his press conference Tuesday
was refreshing, though it's going to be interesting to
see how successful he is at backing it up. Can he have
the same commanding presence as a Popovich or Jackson
without the glittering resume?
Curry also can't revert to the style he used as a
player to stick around for 11 years. Curry was an
extremely physical defender - the NBA has cracked down
on those tactics since the Pistons won their title in
The simple philosophy Curry talked about in his press
conference was this: "You defend, you rebound, you
share the ball offensively, you get to the paint,
whether it's dribble penetration or postups, and you
get to the free throw line. That means you're the most
aggressive (team). Those are things that win
Getting those inside buckets and tough rebounds,
something they couldn't do in the last three
conference finals, requires a prolific scorer and/or
dominating inside presence. The Pistons don't have
that now. So in order for Curry to reward Dumars'
faith in him, Dumars must reward Curry with the right
personnel by making a major trade this offseason.

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Monday, June 9, 2008


Ever since Joe Dumars stated publicly last week that
he's willing to deal anyone not named Rodney Stuckey,
the rumors have been flying.
The one that has taken on the biggest life has the
Pistons bidding for Carmelo Anthony. A short Denver
Post article, which stated that the Pistons might be
interested in Anthony, created the feeding frenzy.
This struck me as either pure speculation or someone
within the Nuggets organization floating a balloon to
see how much they could get for their
Anthony is a prolific scorer, the type of player the
Pistons have lacked during their long run among the
Eastern Conference elite. But on every other level,
Anthony is the type of player and person Dumars
doesn't want.
He's soft. He doesn't play defense. He hasn't shown
any leadership qualities since coming to the pros. His
team has consistently gotten bounced out of the first
round without much of a fight. And most of all, he's
not the tough-minded warrior (a la Kevin Garnett) you
want as the face of your team. Remember, this was a
guy who got pulled over for DUI on the eve of this
year's playoffs.
I do believe Joe D. will eventually pull the trigger
but he'll have to get a quality insider scorer in
return - Amare Stoudemire, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor,
etc. - or another penetrating wing player to
complement Stuckey. Otherwise, the offense really
isn't going to improve.
These blockbuster deals don't usually happen until
draft day or mid-summer. So the Anthony rumor is just
the start of a lot of idle chit-chat.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Joe Dumars' decree Tuesday that he's willing to trade
anyone on his roster, except for Rodney Stuckey, was a
startling admission. Dumars has stuck with this core
group a long time but he knows that he can't come back
next season with the same mix.
Rasheed Wallace is a goner. Dumars said he's not going
to give guys away. But there's no way he wants
Wallace's dominant personality back in the locker
I have a hard time believing he'd give up Chauncey
Billups but I see either Richard Hamilton or Tayshaun
Prince being moved, probably in a package with Sheed.
Most likely, nothing will happen before the draft late
this month. Dumars says major deals usually don't come
to fruition before then. Just look at Boston - it got
Ray Allen on draft night, then acquired Kevin Garnett
a few weeks later.
He's ready to pull the trigger on the right deal but
as he said, "You've got to have a dance partner to do
Who might do the cha-cha with Joe D.? Here's my best
A. Phoenix - The Suns could be in the cost-cutting
mode. Sheed's expiring contract would be very
interesting to them. It's not out of the question that
they might field offers for Amare Stoudemire.
B. Dallas - The Mavs need to shake things up, too.
Plus, they just hired Rick Carlisle, who has deep
admiration for the Pistons' regulars. Would the Mavs
be willing to move Dirk Nowitzki? It's worth a try.
C. Charlotte - Larry Brown's there. LB loves Sheed.
The Bobcats have a center whom they might not want
long-term (Emeka Okafor) and a shooting guard from
this area with a big contract (Jason Richardson). It
makes sense on a lot of levels.
D. Los Angeles Clippers - Elton Brand is coming off a
washout year (Achilles) but he's still one of the
premier low-post scorers in the league. And they're
the Clippers, who are known to do silly things.
E. Houston - It might take Rip, Tay and Sheed to get
the Rockets to think about giving up T-Mac. If the
Rockets throw in Shane Battier, that would really make
it interesting. Plus, I'd like to see Shane come home.