Saturday, July 25, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
It didn't work that well with Allen Iverson here. But it sounds like John Kuester will often play small ball during crunch time. That means Charlie Villanueva at center, Tayshaun Prince at small forward, Richard Hamilton at small forward and Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey in the backcourt. That's the only way for Kuester to get his five best players on the floor at the same time. They had better be productive at the offensive end because they're going to have trouble getting stops in halfcourt situations.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The mystery concerning the Pistons' search for a big man is over. The club has reportedly reached a two-year agreement with journeyman power forward Chris Wilcox.
Wilcox has played for the Clippers, Seattle/Oklahoma City and the Knicks. He had his best years in Seattle, averaging as much as 14 points and 8 rebounds.
I had been advocating something bolder - a sign-and-trade for David Lee - but Joe Dumars took a much-less expensive alternative and held onto Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Wilcox will apparently receive the rest of Detroit's cap space - about $3.2 million.
Now, they'll go about the business of signing their three rookie forwards - Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko - and possibly shooting guard Deron Washington. It also leaves open the possibility of bringing back Ben Wallace for the veteran's minimum - $1.3 million - to allow Big Ben to finish his career here.
Can't really get excited about the Pistons' frontcourt rotation - Charlie Villanueva, Wilcox, Kwame Brown, Jason Maxiell and either Jerebko or Wallace. They're strong on the wings and still in good financial shape to sign an impact free agent next season or make a significant trade during the season or next offseason.
Monday, July 13, 2009
LEE MAKES SENSE
Saturday, July 11, 2009
DON'T GET SMALL
Brandon Bass is now off the market, heading to Orlando, so the Pistons will have to target another free agent to provide frontcourt depth. Boston's Glen Davis seems like the best of the bunch but he's restricted. Do the Pistons really want to sweat out an offer sheet the Celtics might match? First, they have to open more cap room by trading Arron Afflalo or someone else.
I like Bass but I didn't understand where he would fit in. Charlie Villanueva is a natural power forward. They have Jason Maxiell to back him up and the second-round picks, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko, can play there, too.
I hope they're not seriously considering going small with Villanueva at center. Might as well spot the opponent 110 points every night.
I still think Tyson Chandler for Rip Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince makes the most sense, provided that Chandler's health issues don't get in the way. Chandler, Villanueva, Prince, Gordon and Stuckey with plenty of depth behind ... that's a pretty good team there. Maybe not championship caliber but definitely a playoff team that could advance out of the first round next season.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
NICE FOR DICE
Antonio McDyess' decision to join San Antonio creates a serious problem for the Pistons but will be a boon for McDyess and the Spurs.
I hate to see McDyess go in many ways - terrific, hard-working player, even better person. He'll be missed greatly in the Pistons' locker room. Heck, they missed him the month he had to sit out last season after being traded to Denver and then getting bought out.
McDyess left $9 million on the table to rejoin the Pistons, thinking they still had a shot to win a title. That's $9 million. He would have had to sacrifice $2 or $3 million next season to stay on board with Detroit instead of signing a mid-level with San Antonio. The Pistons owed him - not the other way around - so they were fortunate McDyess even considered coming back.
As long as Gregg Popovich doesn't overuse him, as Michael Curry did, McDyess will be an ideal partner for Tim Duncan. Think about it - Duncan has won championships with the likes of Nazr Mohammed starting alongside him. Dice is the best frontcourt partner he's had since David Robinson.
The Spurs also traded for Richard Jefferson this offseason. I rate them the second- or third-best team in the West now, behind the Lakers and alongside young and talented Portland.
As for the Pistons, their power forwards and centers consist of Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell and Kwame Brown, along with a couple of second-round picks. Yikes. I have to believe Richard Hamilton, or Tayshaun Prince, will be dealt for a center at some point this offseason. A low-level free agent signing isn't going to be enough.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
PRIZE BEHIND DOOR NO. 3?
In the world of "Let's Make A Deal," the Pistons might have stumbled onto the prize behind the third curtain.
John Kuester was clearly the No. 3 choice, a distant third, behind Doug Collins and Avery Johnson for the head coaching job.
But Joe Dumars might have lucked into a better situation. The domineering personalities of Collins and Johnson would have inevitably created a crash and burn situation sometime down the road.
Kuester will be more low-keyed, low-maintenance and perhaps, quietly efficient. Not to say he's another Chuck Daly but he's a longtime assistant in this league who deserves a shot, much like Daly when he was hired by the Pistons (I'm not counting Daly's short heading coaching stint with Ted Stepien's Cavs). Now, he's got it and he has something to prove, much like many of his players.
And the team he's inheriting is younger and much less accomplished. The only remaining players from the Pistons' elite teams are Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton and there's still a decent chance Hamilton will be traded for frontcourt help. He's not going to have to proceed cautiously while a group of longterm, close-knit starters watch and critique his every move.
This group is younger and needs a good teacher. Collins could have been that guy but why not Kuester? He's been an assistant since 1995. He knows the league, knows what makes players tick and knows the schemes that can make a team successful, without interjecting his ego into the proceedings.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
LOOKS LIKE KUESTER BUT...
All signs are pointing toward Cleveland assistant John Kuester being the next Pistons coach. Avery Johnson and Joe Dumars couldn't come to an agreement over the last couple of days, mainly because Johnson wanted more money and security than Dumars was willing to give.
Kuester is heading to town to close the deal but Dumars told me just moments ago "there's nothing to announce."
Kuester is the third coach Dumars has pursued. He wanted Doug Collins, then moved on to Johnson when Collins pulled out of the running. Kuester has never been a head coach but he's a longtime assistant, including a 2004 stint in Detroit under Larry Brown. He'll come a lot cheaper than DC or AJ but how will the players respond to him? That's the great unknown.
Johnson was quoted on ESPN: "I was only interested in it if we could agree on a vision for the team going forward." I don't believe that for a minute. If Dumars had thrown enough money and/or seasons at him, he would have readily signed the dotted line.
Talks broke down between Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and ex-Dallas coach Avery Johnson Tuesday, meaning that Dumars will probably hire an assistant with no previous head coaching experience.
Johnson was in a position of strength, since Dallas is still paying him $4 million in each of the next two seasons. He wanted a fat contract and long-term security, supposedly a four-year deal, and Dumars was unwilling to give it to him.
Johnson struck me as another Michael Curry, albeit with a proven track record. Johnson is headstrong and clashed with his players, particularly during his last year in Dallas.
Next on the list is Cleveland assistant John Kuester, who was on Larry Brown's staff when the PIstons won it all in 2004. Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau is also a possibility but Dumars has a comfort level with Kuester and doesn't know Thibodeau. As for Bill Laimbeer, that was never a true possibility even though Dumars listed him as a candidate. That was more of a way to help Laimbeer build this resume, more than anything, as he seeks out an NBA job.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
COACHING SEARCH CONTINUES; SHEED TO BOSTON
I've been told tonight (Sunday) that Cleveland assistant John Kuester and Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau are still in the running for the Pistons' head coaching job. Joe Dumars met with ex-Dallas coach Avery Johnson today but they obviously didn't come to an agreement. At the very least, Dumars wants to consider options before hiring the most experienced head coach on his list.
Thibodeau was added to the list this weekend. He's been in the league quite a while, mostly as an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy in New York and Houston. He's the main assistant to Doc Rivers and is considered a defensive guru.
As for Rasheed Wallace, he's staying in the conference. He agreed to a two-year deal with the Celtics tonight to back up Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. I think that's an ideal situation for him. He'll play about 20 minutes a game, which is all his legs will allow these days, and he can beat up on second-stringers as well as defend against Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal and Orlando's Dwight Howard, the main big men on Boston's main Eastern Conference rivals.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
DOUG OUT; AVERY'S PRICE HIGH
Doug Collins removed his name from the short list of candidates under considering for the Pistons' head coaching job late Wednesday night. Collins did the same thing last offseason with Chicago.
That puts Avery Johnson in the driver's seat and gives the ex-Mavericks coach the ability to drive a hard bargain. The only other name on Dumars' list immediately after he fired Michael Curry Tuesday was Cleveland assistant John Kuester, who was an assistant here under Larry Brown. Kuester does not have the head coaching experience that Dumars presumably wants after Curry crashed and burned in his first year as a head coach.
Johnson's price tag will be high. He stands to collect $4 million during each of the next two seasons off of his Dallas contract, which will be nullified if he takes another head coaching job. Logically, he's going to ask for at least $5 million and probably $6 million or more to take the Pistons' job, instead of collecting Mark Cuban's paycheck and doing some spot work as an ESPN analyst.
The Pistons paid Flip Saunders $5 million last season NOT to coach. They'll be paying Michael Curry $2.5 million each of the next two years NOT to coach.
Good thing for Dumars there's no cap on head coaching salaries.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE
The Pistons secured commitments from Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva tonight, as Joe Dumars delivered on his promise to bring in some impact players. He got that done on the first day of free agency and those additions signal a new era of Pistons basketball, for better or worse.
Fans fell in love with the tough, physical, defensive-minded Pistons that made six straight Eastern Conference Finals. Dumars is convinced the team can't play that way anymore, not with the hand-checking rules and ticky-tack calls given to the league's new breed of superstars. So the Pistons are now much more offensively-gifted, though they'll give up plenty at the other end with Gordon and Villanueva playing heavy minutes.
There's still plenty of work to be done. The Pistons have to get a starting center to pair with Villanueva. They'd like Antonio McDyess back but that would mean having McDyess and Kwame Brown rotating at center all season. It makes more sense that Richard Hamilton will be dealt for a big man, though there's a chance they could make that trade and still resign McDyess.
McDyess likes it here but I think he'll wait to see who Dumars brings in as the head coach before he seriously considers returning and leaving some money on the table. He could easily get a full mid-level exception with a contender.
Joe Dumars is wasting no time courting free agents. UConn alums Ben Gordon and Charles Villanueva are in town today, visiting the practice facility and touring the area. They are believed to be at the top of Detroit's wish list. Gordon would give the Pistons a dynamite scorer and creator from the perimeter, while Villanueva would more than fill the inside-out scoring void left by aging free agent Rasheed Wallace.
Nothing new to report on the coaching search but my gut feeling is that Doug Collins is the natural choice. Dumars, who played for Collins, at least knows what's he getting if he brings back Collins - good and bad. And there's no doubt about Collins' coaching prowess.