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Phoenix Suns reportedly considering signing Greg Monroe to an offer sheet

Jordan Schultz of NBC Sports Radio:

Hearing Suns may be considering a Greg Monroe offer. They have space to get both him and Bledsoe but would lose cap flexibility long-term.

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Stan Van Gundy’s biggest challenge? Fixing Josh Smith.

Like it or not, it looks like Josh Smith will open the season with the Pistons.

Not to say that means Smith finishes the season with Detroit, but it’s unlikely the Pistons send away the talented-yet-ill-fitting forward for whatever another team has in the back of the fridge. I’m probably in the minority on this, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Smith is a talented player — and the Pistons haven’t had many of those in recent years.

More importantly, Stan Van Gundy is a good coach, and the Pistons haven’t had any of those in recent years. If Smith is going to be playing for the Pistons, Van Gundy will have to figure out how to avoid the dumpster fire version that the league saw last season. Smith is the easy target, the fan’s No. 1 scapegoat for last season’s failure.

Let’s figure out what Van Gundy can get out of the talented enigma to help the Pistons win. We can call it WWSVGD — What Would Stan Van Gundy Do?

SCORING? Detroit was 11-13 when Smith scored 15+ points.

  • The Pistons went 10-10 when Smith’s field goal percentage was at or above his career mark of 45.9 percent.
  • When Smith shot three or more 3-pointers, the Pistons went 14-16.
  • Detroit went a comical 4-15 when Smith shot the ball 20-plus times.

This is probably obviously the least surprising aspect of this evaluation. Smith’s skill set is extremely diverse, but is not conducive to high-volume shooting or scoring.

That’s not something that changed in Detroit — Smith’s never been good like that — but thanks to poor coaching and poor decision making, it became a bloody, horrible reality this season.

It’s easy to blame the ineptitude of Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer (deservedly so) but Smith’s awful season wasn’t all on them. It’s a two-way street, and Smith’s delusional mentality definitely played a part, too.

When Smith was an effective scorer like he was in his Atlanta days, the Pistons were an average team. The problem is that only happened in a quarter of Smith’s games. Perhaps the best stat of all is the volume shooting. It’s not a shock that the Pistons were bad when Smith shot the ball 20-plus times.

It is, however, revealing that Smith channeled his inner-chucker against the best teams. Fifteen of those 20-plus shot games came against playoff teams. The Pistons went 2-13. Perhaps Smith was trying to prove a point against the NBA’s best.

My bet is that it was less coincidental and more intentional strategy that good coaches utilized against the Pistons.

PASSING? Detroit was 8-8 when Smith recorded 5+ assists.

  • Smith had 5-plus turnovers in five of those games (1-4 record).
  • Detroit was 12-16 when he had 3-plus turnovers (averaged 2.6 per game).

Ah, what a novel idea; pass up some of those shots to create for others. This was always my issue. Smith is a very good passer for a big man, but that was a skill that the Pistons coaching staff hardly utilized.

Maybe that’s due to the fact that Smith’s limitations on the perimeter as a ball handler made it difficult to create for others? Maybe it was because he was too busy hoisting jumpers? I really don’t know, but when he was distributing and creating for others, the Pistons weren’t bad.

Assists are a fickle statistic, though. We don’t know if Smith passed the ball more in these games or if the guys he was passing it to just made more shots.

 

REBOUNDING? Detroit was 3-7 when Smith had 10+ rebounds.

  • For context, the Pistons were just 3-3 when Andre Drummond went for 18-plus points and 20-plus boards.
  • My point? Individual rebounding doesn’t always equate to wins.

Yikes. In defense of Smith, this statistical example is a bit deceiving. Greg Monroe and Drummond are better rebounders and players than Smith. When all three played together, Smith wasn’t in position to rebound like he would be at power forward with a traditional small forward. According to 82games, Smith averaged 11.5 rebounds per 48 minutes when he was playing at power forward.

THE IDEA? Create Josh Smith, super sub.

Easier said than done, of course. You’d have to hope living through not only the worst season of his career, but also one of the most futile seasons in NBA history, will serve as a humbling moment for Smith.

I’m sure Smith has something of an ego — all NBA players do — but his individual struggles, combined with the team’s struggles, had to knock a guy used to winning down a notch or two.

The biggest hope might be that being coached by Van Gundy, easily the best coach Smith has played for, will serve as a mid-career mulligan. My argument is that if anyone is going to figure out how to accentuate the good Smith has to offer, it’s a coach like Van Gundy.

If his ego has taken a big enough hit and Van Gundy can do a good enough job convincing him that playing alongside Drummond and Monroe isn’t helping anyone, you might have something. Who knows if Smith would be willing to make that sacrifice? Surely none of us do.

But the Pistons went 7-7 when Smith recorded 10+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists. Those are steep averages considering only 13 players did that this past season, but is it inconceivable? I don’t think so.

Smith has averaged four assists per game before with Atlanta, and if he is only taking 8-10 shots instead of 14-16 shots while playing with a Pistons bench filled with floor spacers, he could serve as a nice mid-to-low post centerpiece when the bench is out there.

This isn’t a matter of skill or ability, it’s a matter of mentality and ego. It’s hard to argue against a three-big rotation with Smith as the versatile third big; not to mention his skill set would jive well with the Pistons current bench.

Maybe an off-the-bench Smith could push himself by attempting to capture an individual honor like Sixth Man of the Year? That caliber of a season would likely help to push the Pistons back into the postseason. Maybe, even at $14 million a year, that ends up being the perfect role for Smith in Detroit.

Or maybe that kind of role works for a month or two, serves as enough reason to convince another team that Smith has changed and trading for him is their answer?

Anything would be better than last season, right?

Spencer Dinwiddie signs three-year contract with Pistons

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Hearing Pistons second-rounder Spencer Dinwiddie has landed a three-year deal from his new team

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Update: Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

First two years of Dinwiddie’s deal guaranteed.

I would have guessed only year would be guaranteed, but there’s not much difference. By drafting a player with a torn ACL, you’re committing to giving him time to heal and then adjust on the court.

Stan Van Gundy tells Josh Smith forward will likely begin season with Pistons

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Detroit Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy reached out to forward Josh Smith to tell him that reports of the franchise engaging in substantive trade talks with Sacramento centered on Smith have been inaccurate and – barring an unexpected turn of events – Smith will be in training camp with the Pistons this fall, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Sacramento had made calls about Smith in June, but Detroit never heard an offer that remotely interested them and never seriously engaged in discussions, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Since his hiring in the spring, Van Gundy has had productive discussions with Smith and sources say that Smith has been enthusiastic about moving forward with Van Gundy as coach.

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Pistons make Zach Lowe’s ‘Milwaukee Bucks WTF Are They Doing?’ Award list

Zach Lowe of Grantland

The Second Annual “Milwaukee Bucks WTF Are They Doing?” Award

This award was born one year ago, when the most common question I heard in chats with NBA executives in the stands at Summer League was some variation of “Man, I can’t figure out what Milwaukee is up to. Can you?”

4. Detroit: The Pistons chose the same route as the Lakers, only they already have at least one young star in Andre Drummond, and they spent much more conservatively on guys who fit actual needs in D.J. Augustin, Butler, and Meeks. The Lakers just threw random amounts of money at guys to fill a barren roster.

The Meeks contract is a puzzling overpay, but Stan Van Gundy wanted shooting, and he got it before the market could sink its fangs into Meeks. Van Gundy also has a record of turning subpar wing defenders into good system guys.

Detroit still has to figure out the Monroe situation, and Monroe’s camp is still making noise about possibly signing the one-year qualifying offer if Detroit doesn’t come with a max deal. But Detroit is still decently positioned going forward, and Van Gundy will have this team playing better this season.

Hey, at least the Pistons aren’t the Lakers (3), Magic (2) or Kings (1).

Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear what Stan Van Gundy is doing. He’s marginally upgrading the roster he’ll coach without enough regard for opportunity cost. By signing middling players, he’s forgoing a chance to get star talent now and reducing the chance later.

But, as Lowe says, the Pistons will be a little better because they have a much better coach. And that coach is helping himself, a little, in the short term.

Josh Smith again the center of Kings-Pistons trade talks

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings have resumed trade discussions on a deal that could send Josh Smith to Sacramento, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

Sources told ESPN.com the Kings have continued to express interest in Smith and the parties are on the hunt for a third team that could help facilitate the deal.

Initial talks called for Sacramento to send Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry to the Pistons for Smith, but those discussions reached an impasse and were pushed into July along with the rest of both teams’ free-agent business, sources said.

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Rodney Stuckey agrees to one-year deal with Indiana Pacers

USA Today’s Sam Amick reports:

Rodney Stuckey has agreed to join the Indiana Pacers on a one-year deal, @USATODAYsports has learned. Nice pickup after losing Stephenson.

I tend to agree with Amick on this one. While the monetary figures have yet to be reported, Rodney Stuckey will team with C.J. Miles to fill the role that now-Hornets guard Lance Stephenson filled for the Pacers last season.

Obviously, Stuckey had his fair share of ups and downs during his time in Detroit — and the majority of fans are probably happy to see him go. While yearly reports of him finding a reliable jumper never came to fruition, he was a solid enough off-the-bench scorer for the Pistons this season. He was bad defensively, and he didn’t add much more, but he could score.

It’s easy to forget that rookie-year Stuckey — quite like contract-year Stuckey — was a pretty good player for the Pistons. He played well in the playoffs as a rookie, filling in for an injured Chauncey Billups and hitting a big 3-pointer against Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Maybe he was a victim of bad coaching and too much responsibility too soon. Maybe being in Indiana, playing for a team that actually has realistic things to play for, will be good for him. Either way, I wish him the best.

And if this is the Rodney Stuckey Pistons Obituary, I’ll leave you with the highlights from the best game of his Pistons career.

 

Pistons waive Peyton Siva and Josh Harrellson

Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com:

Pistons have also waived both Josh Harrellson and Peyton Siva.

Pistons renounced Rodney Stuckey, Chauncey Billupps and Charlie Villanueva.

It’s no surprise Peyton Siva is being waived, and it’s even less of a surprise Josh Harrellson is. They have unguaranteed contracts, so the Pistons will take no cap hit.

They’ll effectively be replaced by D.J. Augustin (an upgrade from Siva) and Aaron Gray (a downgrade from a healthy Harrellson). Not that the moves need should be judged as a package, but I’m happy overall with the swaps. Augustin is the only impact player of the four.

Stan Van Gundy is shuffling the back of the roster to get in his guys, and throughout Van Gundy’s tenure so far, fit has been an important consideration.

Renouncing Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva and Chauncey Billups were expected formalities to clear cap room for the new free-agent additions. The Pistons can still re-sign those three. (Why?) They just can’t use bird rights to do so.

Andre Drummond makes Team USA World Cup player pool

Andre Drummond made the list of 19 players under consideration for Team USA’s 12-man World Cup roster.

Only three centers – Drummond, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins – made the cut. However, in international play, the Americans might use plenty of small ball with a power forward at center.

At ProBasketballTalk, I projected the roster for the 2014 event:

PG: Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard

SG: Stephen Curry, James Harden

SF: Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kyle Korver

PF: Kevin Love, Blake Griffin

C: Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins

I consider Davis a lock if he wants a spot. Cousins previously had issues during his time with the U.S. national team, but I can’t shake the idea that he was invited back for a reason. If his potential weren’t so respected, he would have just been cut loose by now.

Still, Cousins and Drummond are running neck and neck. I could see either making the squad with a strong camp.

Pistons agree to terms with D.J. Augustin, Caron Butler

Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski reports:

Free agent guard DJ Augustin has reached a two-year, $6 million deal with the Detroit Pistons, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

And ESPN’s Marc Stein reports:

Caron Butler’s expected deal with Detroit said to be for two years in the $9 million range

While the full details on Caron Butler’s deal have yet to be released, it seems like these are a pair of low-cost signings.

D.J. Augustin has had a weird career. He’s gone from lottery pick to end-of-bench scrub to super sub for the Bulls last season. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range for Chicago and put together a number of big nights, scoring 20-plus points on 17 different occasions. The price is good, the risk is low and it’s the third player Stan Van Gundy has signed with one specific skill — shooting.

While Augustin will surely plenty of run this season, the Pistons now have four point guards on roster with Brandon Jennings, Augustin, Will Bynum and Peyton Siva. All of those contracts are guaranteed this year except Siva, who could be on his way out unless the Pistons move Bynum between now and July 20.

The Butler signing is a bit puzzling on the outside. The risk, again, is low with only one guaranteed year and a team option for next. The money is steep… that’s all I’ve got with that. Honestly, I thought Butler was washed up before last season. Injuries and inefficiency slowed him, but he was pretty solid for both a bad Bucks team and a good Thunder team.

Detroit wasn’t exactly flush with talent at small forward, even with incumbents Kyle Singler and Luigi Datome along with newly-acquired Cartier Martin. I’m not sure what Butler has left as a player — though he played well in off the bench for Oklahoma City — but by all accounts, he’s a guy who’s going to act like an adult and be good to have in the locker room.

The Pistons roster now sits at 18 players, although the deals of Siva and Josh Harrellson aren’t fully guaranteed yet for the upcoming season.

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