Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pistons Off-Season Preview

For the second straight season the Pistons season ends in bitter disappointment following a loss in the Eastern Conference Finals. The popular sentiment among the bloggers and newspapers is that this is the end of an era. That this second generation of "Bad Boys" is thrashing about in their death throes, gasping for air and pleadingly looking into the eyes of their killer LeBron James for some sort of mercy. I remember reading the same thoughts after the conclusion of last season, when people were talking about the Pistons demise and coronating Dywane Wade and the Miami Heat as the new rulers of basketball east of the Mississippi for now and the foreseeable future. Of course that turned out to be bullshit as the Pistons once again were the top team in the Eastern Conference and Miami limped through the regular season and was swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. This time around, however, I think the reports of the Pistons demise are spot on as the Cavs and Bulls both proved to be worthy adversaries on the cusp of sustained dominance in the East. So what do the Pistons do now? Are they going to be proactive and shake the team up, move a couple of core players, or bring in a new coach, or does Dumars have enough faith in the current nucleus and coaching staff to make only a few roster adjustments and make another run at the title next season? In times of crisis like this Dumars usually picks up a special red telephone behind a secret door activated when he pulls his desk lamp like a lever, which has a direct line to the only person he can trust. Where does this direct line go, and who is capable of giving such sage franchise-saving advice? Vladimir Lenin's deceased body in Red Square? The oxygen tent in Chuck Daly's house that he believes gives him sexual powers? Are all these questions annoying? How about now? Ahh, patience is virtuous my dear reader and the answer may surprise you, for in Joe D's moments of great doubt bordering on despair he turns to none other than yours truly for guidance. Normally these conversations with Dumars are strictly confidential, but in this one singular instance I shall bestow upon you the contents of our repartee and my profound advisement for the course of this off-season's dealings. Behold.

Flip Saunders: I expressed my displeasure with Saunders in my last post following Game 5 and nothing that happened in Game 6 changed my general opinion that Flip coaches like dump in the playoffs. If it were entirely up to me Flip's ass would already be out the door. However, and this may sound a little strange, but Dumars has to answer to a diminutive, ancient troll in a tan wind breaker when it comes to hiring and firing coaches. I believe this troll is in charge of paying the coaches from a little leather sack containing golden nuggets and, I presume, is a master of sorcery. Hold on, my assistant Samantha is trying to tell me something.....yes Sammie....why that shirt I bought you looks amazingly revealing on you.....mhmm.... holy shit that little troll figure is really the Pistons owner Bill Davidson. Jesus why didn't you tell me this earlier. I thought it was a mythical figure that had crawled out of Dumars toilet and cast a spell over his family. I look like a fool now. Sorry you guys had to see that, but in all seriousness I think Flip is coming back. One reason is the Pistons are on the hook for ten million dollars over the next two years to a coach who is a functional alcoholic and second there aren't any sexy options out there unless Jeff Van Gundy agrees to coach in a bathing suit with a nut hanging out. I would love to have Larry Brown back but he burned too many bridges on his way out the first time to be a viable option. Izzo would also be a kickass option but he's a god in East Lansing and would require a king's ransom to pry away from that situation and the Pistons are surprisingly short of sapphires and emeralds so that avenue is closed. Unless......Sammie, get my burglar kit and a ticket to London....I have a crazy idea.

Final Verdict: Saunders stays. Booooooooooo.

Chauncey Billups: Billups is the big free agent on the market this season and stands to make a ton of money from either the Pistons or Mystery Team X. Personally I think he's going to leave and that sucks. Chauncey has always seemed to carry a chip on his shoulder for the way he was traded around early in his career like a prison bitch. Seriously check his transactions on his bio and you'll see that he was traded from Denver to Orlando along with a bottle of toothpaste/lube for a carton of cigarettes, 2 dollars, and a 1992 Kathy Ireland swimsuit calendar. Chauncey understands the business aspect of the league and won't be hesitant to take the big contract offer. That's why I think a team (namely the Milwaukee Bucks who will be looking to upgrade over their own free agent to be Mo Williams) looking to make a splash in a shallow free agent class will show up at his door on July 1st with wheelbarrows full of cash and convince Chauncey to jump ship. Also don't think for a second that Billup's poor showing against the Cavs will irreparably harm his free agent value. He's still a durable, efficient, dangerous and elite point guard, who will only be 31 years old when next season begins. I would advise maxing Billups out and matching any offer he receives in free agency.

Final Verdict: Stays.

Rasheed Wallace: When Rasheed first came to Detroit I fell for him hard and fast. I loved the guarantees, the "Ball Don't Lie" yells after each missed free throw by the opposition, and the WWF style championship belts he gave the team after the title in '04. He brought personality and swagger to a team that had been sedate, stoic and business-like under Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown. When he was a free-agent after the '04 title season I remember standing in Hart Plaza and chanting for him to re-sign and was ecstatic when he finally did. But now our relationship is strained and Rasheed just wears me out most of the time. For example in Game Six there was abso-fuckin-lutely no doubt in my mind that Rasheed was going to get tossed when things started to unravel in the fourth quarter. Instead of being an emotional firebrand that was hoping to motivate his team by getting tossed, Rasheed's actions at that moment seemed to signify quitting, like he knew the Pistons didn't have a chance and he just wanted to get the hell out of there rather then dig in and attempt a last valiant attempt at extending the season. I don't know what Rasheed's value is on the trade market. He's a very good player but not a great one capable of carrying a team by himself, so it's not like the Pistons could get KG or a player of similar caliber for him no matter how dim-witted NBA GM's are.

Final Verdict: Trade him for the best offer.

Tayshaun Prince: Tayshaun had a poor series against the Cavs but is still one of the best young players in the league and an outstanding perimeter defender. He also has a reasonable contract for a player of his ability and the fact that he makes the same money as transgender Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. is laughable, considering Prince is approximately 200 times better than the young Dunleavy. I think the thing that would be the most helpful to Prince is some rest. Including the playoffs Tayshaun's played in about 470 games over his first 5 NBA season's and the fatigue was evident in this past series as he was able to jump only George Blaha's dick length off the floor to block shots, and perfected a new defensive move to stop LeBron's drives to the hoop that consisted of putting both arms over his head and ducking for cover. Despite the fatigue factor I think there is no doubt Tayshaun should stay as part of the nucleus for future Pistons teams.

Final Verdict: Stays

Rip Hamilton: I think Rip was bogged down in an unimaginative offense that took away the things he does best, (shooting off screens and constantly being in motion), and focused on the things he's only average at, (clearing out and running iso, standing around and spotting up) but welcome to the world of a Flip Saunders coached team, where up is down, black is white, and people have the audacity to think Family Guy is funnier than The Simpsons (wait people ACTUALLY think Family Guy is funnier than The Simpsons, I mean I love Family Guy but stacking it up to the first 7 seasons of The Simpsons is like sending a baby in to fight a crocodile). Like Tayshaun I think Rip should remain a part of the new Pistons nucleus moving forward regardless of what happens to Chauncey in free agency or other trade scenarios. I don't think the Pistons would be able to get fair value for Rip in a trade because many of the areas he excels at are undervalued by the functionally retarded men that hold the general manager positions of teams throughout the NBA.

Final Verdict: Stays.

The Rest: I think C-Webb and Lindsey will shuffle off this mortal coil and retire. Webber is practically decomposing and it would be sad if he stuck around and put up a seven point, four rebound season in a limited role just so he could try to chase down a ring. Lindsey can still play but will probably slide into the front office or get a job on the radio or television broadcasts given his personality and popularity among the fans. Dale Davis will probably hang them up too, but really who the hell cares. McDyess has a player option that I think/hope he will exercise and return for a fourth season in Detroit. He is a very valuable part of the team and the most reliable reserve on the team. I hope that Flip Murray opts out of his contract for the exact opposite reasons I wanted McDyess to stay for. Maxiell and Delfino will certainly be back under their rookie deals and depending on what happens with the front court (trades, McDyess player option) Maxiell could see a considerable uptick in playing time and overall importance to the team. Everyone talks about Nazr Mohammed being traded, but I'm not sure what for. I never thought he was terrible and the only way we could unload him was to take another bad contract back in return. The other interesting scenario is Amir Johnson who is a restricted free agent and could elicit a decent free-agent contract from a team willing to gamble on his considerable talent. I think the Pistons should match any offer for Amir no matter how high it gets, given the promise he's shown over the past two seasons.

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