Saturday, December 27, 2008
NO MORE T'S, PLEASE
Rasheed Wallace may not deserve all the technicals he gets but the reality is he's getting way too close to the NBA limit two months into the season.
Wallace received his 11th earlier this week, a weak call by a young ref. Less than 30 games into the season, Wallace is just five techs away from getting a one-game league suspension. Every other technical from that point results in another one-game ban.
Wallace managed to avoid trouble last season until the playoffs. Had the Pistons advanced,he probably would have wound up sitting out a game in the Finals. The previous year, Wallace missed a late-season game after exceeding the limit.
At the rate he's going, Sheed's going to get multiple suspensions this year. I'll put the over-under at three and that might be conservative.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
We all know that the Pistons will have plenty of salary-cap space when Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson come off the books after the season.
The assumption is that Pistons will save most of it for the summer of 2010, when all the big free agents (LeBron, Dwyane, Bosh, Stoudemire) hit the market. But will Joe Dumars really take that approach?
Best case scenario would be to resign Rasheed to a one-year deal but would Sheed really do that? And would the Pistons basically concede next season with just the hope of adding one of those big names?
Looking at the free agent class of 2009, that would be the prudent approach. Unless Kobe Bryant shocks everyone by opting out of his deal, Carlos Boozer is the best of the unrestricted free agent class. The positive about Boozer is that he's a guaranteed 20 point-10 rebound guy. The downside is that he's fragile and soft. He's never been considered a top-flight defender, unlike Sheed, and he doesn't play unless he's 100 percent.
The Pistons could certainly use a consistent low-post scorer to play inside-out with Rodney Stuckey. But Bosh and Stoudemire are a couple of notches above Boozer. I know it's not easy to wait and see but why settle for being pretty good when there's a chance to be great?
Friday, December 19, 2008
The Pistons' next road game is Sunday afternoon in Atlanta. There's a good chance they will be visiting Georgia again in late April when the playoffs begin.
Sure, there's four months to go in the regular season but the way the Eastern Conference is shaping up, the Pistons and Hawks look like the two best teams that won't win their divisions. The Pistons have spotted Cleveland such a big lead that they may never catch up, unless LeBron James gets injured for a significant stretch.
Boston is running away with the Atlantic Division and will almost certainly be the top seed again. Orlando is quietly off to a solid start - the Magic just ripped apart San Antonio in a national TV game Thursday - and look like the class of its division.
Some people underestimated the Hawks during the preseason, thinking they might regress after the Josh Smith contract debacle this summer. But the Hawks weren't a fluke. They have a very good foundation, with Smith, Al Horford and Joe Johnson as their centerpieces.
Remember all the problems the Celtics had with the Hawks in the first round last season? They could very well be the Pistons' headaches in the opening round this season. And even if the Pistons get past them, they'd have to unseat the Celtics just to make the conference finals for a seventh straight year.
Those bad losses the Pistons had in the first seven weeks of the season, mostly a product of the Allen Iverson trade, could come back to haunt them four months from now.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
DICE ROLLS, YOUNG BIG MEN SIT
I have to say, that month off that Antonio McDyess had certainly rejuvenated him. He's been stroking his 17-foot jumpers regularly in the first couple of games since coming back. No doubt, the Pistons are a much more formidable team with him back.
I wonder, though, how the team's other frontcourt reserves are going to handle reduced playing time. Amir Johnson and Kwame Brown didn't play at all in McDyess' first two games back.
I can see why Brown is getting benched - he blew his starting job with too many defensive errors. But Johnson has kept his head up after losing his starting job early in the season. He's been productive and active most of the times that Michael Curry has used him. It doesn't make sense to bury the 21-year-old but I don't see how he's going to get minutes unless the small lineup experiment flops. McDyess and Jason Maxiell are options No. 1 and No. 2 off the bench in the frontcourt, leaving few or no minutes for anyone else.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
STUCK ON CHANGES
The Pistons officially re-signed Antonio McDyess today but that's the second-biggest news flash involving the Pistons.
Head coach Michael Curry continues to tinker with his starting lineup. He's going small now, with Tayshaun Prince at power forward and Rodney Stuckey at the point. Kwame Brown heads to the bench.
I'm skeptical on this one. Curry has been surprisingly impatient during the first 20 games. He groomed Amir Johnson to be a starter throughout camp, then removed him during the early West Coast trip in favor of Brown. Now, he's taking an entirely different approach.
I understand that he wants a true point in the lineup dishing the ball to Allen Iverson and Richard Hamilton on the wings. But wasn't Iverson supposed to give the Pistons a different dimension at the point? Instead, Prince was taken out of his comfort zone by becoming a point forward.
What's really mindboggling is that Curry kept emphasizing that he needed Stuckey and McDyess to be the leading scorers of the second unit. Then, just as McDyess comes back, he makes Stuckey a starter.
He's now got four power forwards and centers (McDyess, Jason Maxiell, Johnson and Brown) coming off the bench. How is he going to find adequate minutes for even three of them? And will Stuckey stay in the game and play longer minutes to run pick-and-rolls with McDyess? How is he going to find enough time for Arron Afflalo and Walter Herrmann, whom Curry says deserve more playing time?
From my vantage point, sticking with the original plan (Johnson starts) would have been the best course of action. Right now, in terms of the rotation, your guess is as good as mine.
Friday, December 5, 2008
After going 4-0 before Allen Iverson put on their uniform, the Pistons have barely won more than half of their games. The way the schedule sets up the rest of this month, the Pistons are in good position to reel off a nice winning streak and make up some ground on Cleveland in the division race.
The Pistons only play two games against Western Conference teams the rest of December. Both are at home - Utah on the 19th and Oklahoma City on the 26th. The Jazz always give them problems but the matchup against the woeful Thunder is the equivalent of a fast-break layup.
The rest of their games are against New York, Washington (twice), Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Orlando and New Jersey. With the exception of the Magic, a team the Pistons have owned over the years, there's not a serious playoff contender in that bunch. Time for a good ol' holiday feast.
Monday, December 1, 2008
The Pistons are going through the blahs a lot earlier than normal. Usually, the dog days come in January, when the playoffs are still 3 1/2 months away and the regular season seems endless.
After one month, the Pistons are already getting a little cranky. Iverson and Hamilton are both have issues with their reduced playing time. Rasheed Wallace has the opposite problem. His defense is so valuable, he's playing heavier minutes than expected until Antonio McDyess comes back. Tayshaun Prince was upset with his fourth-quarter benching against Portland Sunday.
Michael Curry is getting tested early in his regime, even for a rookie coach. The Iverson deal has thrown everything he meticulously planned prior to the regular season out of whack. The team has practiced harder and longer than normal, which often leads to grumbling. He goes by matchups and feel a lot more than previous coaches when it comes to substitutions, which has also left him open for criticism.
It's important that the rotation becomes more settled, once McDyess returns. He's also got to figure out how to maximize the production of Iverson and Hamilton in those reduced minutes. Iverson hasn't reached 20 points in five games and Hamilton hasn't hit that mark in eight consecutive outings. Sure, the Pistons are more balanced, but that's a pretty significant dropoff from their top two offensive sources.