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Archive → June, 2009

Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur don’t opt out

Carlos Boozer will remain with the Jazz next season, according to the Associated Press (via Sports Illustrated). He will be paid $12.7 million.

This is good news for the Pistons from my perspective. I didn’t want Boozer, and this should help their chances of getting Mehmet Okur and/or Paul Millsap. (Wouldn’t that be an excellent starting power forward/center combo next year?).

UPDATE: Mehmet Okur isn’t opting out, either.

Hello, Paul Millsap.

Doug Collins, Joe Dumars candidates to replace Curry?

Doug Collins

Collins could be the Pistons’ next coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Unlike most other outlets (PistonPowered included), he’s not speculating who would be a logical candidate. He has a source tying Collins to the job.

Wojnarowski also says Michael Curry was fired for “refusing to reconcile with a disgruntled star.” I can see not being able to patch things up with Richard Hamilton. But refusing to try?

Curry asked to be fired.

Joe Dumars

Terry Foster of the Detroit News has a brilliant plan:

The guy who should take over this team is the man who made the move. If Dumars wants to fix this mess, he should take over the team. He cannot keep firing coaches and moving players. Dumars must either step down as team president or step up as head coach.

Dumars is the GM. Firing coaches and moving players is his job. Of course, he should continue doing that.

It’s dysfunctional to have the same GM and coach. There needs to be checks and balance for an organization to run smoothly.

Players and coaches become tired of working with each other. This is the nature of the NBA. Despite what you think about Bill Laimber, it will be a long time, if ever, before some coaches the Pistons nine seasons like Chuck Daly did.

And even he left because the players grew tired of his message.

Questions left in the wake of Michael Curry’s firing

I’m going to continue updating this post, so check back to read more analysis.

Who will replace Curry?

Bill Laimbeer

He’s the most obvious candidate. Did he know Curry would be fired when he resigned from the Shock? He’d bring the toughness Detroit lacked last year.

Avery Johnson

He might be a little too high-strung for this job. But he has shown he can be successful in the short-term. Has he learned how to mellow out?

Tom Izzo

I don’t think he’d leave leave Michigan State, but this might be the job that tempts him. He’s very competitive, and I think, on some level, he wants to prove he can be a successful professional coach.

Jeff Van Gundy

He wants to get back into coaching, and he has an impressive record. There are probably better candidates out there, but he’s a fairly safe choice.

Tom Thibodeau

He’s widely regarded as the best assistant in the league. And he’s credited with orchestrating the Celtics’ defense.

Doug Collins

He coached Dumars, and he was interested in the 76ers opening. He’d be a solid choice, but he hasn’t coached in seven years.

Hubie Brown

I doubt he’s interested in returning to the bench at 75. But if he is, he’s probably my first choice. He even took the Grizzlies to the playoffs.

Terry Porter

He was a Pistons assistant before going to Phoenix. He was solid as a head coach in Milwaukee, and Phoenix didn’t improve after firing him last season. He’d probably come fairly cheap, too.

Larry Brown

Isn’t he always a candidate for every open job?

Did Curry deserve to be fired?

He only had one year, so there was still a chance he would develop into a quality coach. But he did a terrible job in that year.

  • He alienated Detroit’s star player, Richard Hamilton.
  • He claimed to emphasize defense and rebounding, but he started a ridiculously small lineup for much of the season.
  • He overly complicated defensive schemes.
  • He annoyed several players, most notably Jason Maxiell, by cutting their minutes with little explanation.
  • He failed to control Allen Iverson.
  • He let Rasheed Wallace’s discontent spread through the team.

The last two would be tough for any coach, but the first four should have been handled better.

I expected Curry to return next year, especially considering Joe Dumars said he would in April. My guess is Curry was unable or unwilling to repair his relationship with Hamilton. What else could have changed between April now besides Dumars’s assessment of whether that would happen?

So, if that’s the case, Curry deserved to be fired. You can’t be that stubborn as an NBA head coach. The players will win.

What does this mean for the roster?

It’s much more likely Hamilton will be back next season.

As I said above, there’s no way Dumars would get rid of Hamilton for Curry. But if he planned on trading Hamilton anyway, Curry might have seen a second year.

Since it’s more likely Hamilton is returning, it’s slightly less likely Detroit will sign Ben Gordon. The common thought is Detroit wants both, so the odds of Gordon signing didn’t take a huge hit.

But there’s still a chance it’s one or the other, so it’s a little less likely.

I guess this opens up the possibility of Rasheed Wallace returning. But I’d be shocked if he does.

This one comes from Henry Abbot of TrueHoop: Don’t we all suspect that the best coach hired this off-season will prove to have been Flip Saunders? With that in mind, the Pistons are in the market for a coach, having fired the guy they hired after firing Flip Saunders. You see what I’m saying? Isn’t there a chance they would have been better just keeping him?


Saunders is a better coach than Curry, and the Wizards probably made the best hire of the offseason. But Saunders’s time had run out in Detroit.

The players had tuned him out, and he had to move on. That happens when you’re dealing with highly paid coddled athletes. The message just loses its meaning.

BREAKING NEWS: Pistons fire Michael Curry

From a release by the team:

Joe Dumars announced this evening that Michael Curry will not return next season as the team’s head coach.

“This was a difficult decision to make,” Dumars said.  “I want to thank Michael for his hard work and dedication to the organization.  However, at this time, I have decided to make a change.”

Curry, who was named head coach on June 10, 2008, tallied a regular-season record of 39-43 in his first season as an NBA head coach with the Pistons and led the club to the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs.  Detroit was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games.  He served one season in Detroit as an assistant coach under Flip Saunders (2007-08) and had two separate stints with the organization as a player

Kwame Brown won’t opt out

Kwame Brown will be back with the Pistons for $4.1 million next season, according to A. Sherod Blakely of MLive.

I’d rather have the extra cap space, but this isn’t too detrimental for the Pistons. They are lacking on big men, and this isn’t a strong free-agent class for centers. A suitable replacement wouldn’t cost much less.

But as the Amir Johnson trade showed, Joe Dumars is trying to eke out every last bit of cap space he can. So why did Brown have this option in his contract? Was he in such high demand last summer that Dumars couldn’t have signed him to a one-year deal?

A doctor weighs in on DeJuan Blair and Austin Daye’s medical histories

A lot of people, myself included, wondered why the Pistons didn’t take DeJuan Blair. And then why they passed on him again.

Dr. Ben Wedro, who runs MD Direct, was kind enough to evaluate his injury for me.

Some background from Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop:

In high school, Blair tore both of his ACLs and had them surgically repaired. Blair’s scar tissue essentially got re-absorbed by his body and the result left Blair with essentially no ACLs.

Although he’s suffered no adverse effects ever since, Blair’s is an unprecedented injury and one that scared off a slew of NBA executives. Though Blair literally has no ACL to tear, some team physicians feel that Blair could eventually develop a nagging issue that could wear him down a few years down the road.

Here’s Dr. Wedro’s assessment:

The ACL’s job is to be one of the knee stabilizers in the anterior-posterior direction, that is preventing the tibia or shin bone from sliding frontwards or backwards in relation to the femur or thigh bone. This is especially important in quick stops and starts. If there is no ACL, then the quadricpes and hamstring muscles need to take over the stabilization role. Good knee stability should be able to be maintained as long as the quads and hams remain strong and in balance.

There are examples of pro athletes who have played with absent ACLs including Philip Rivers in a playoff game for the Chargers. Marty Barrett played with the Red Sox without an ACL and I presume that there are many atheltes who did not know of the injury or chose not to disclose it for fear of cutting their career short.

That sounds manageable to me. With Arnie Kander monitoring Blair, I think he could keep his quads and hams strong and balanced.

I also asked Dr. Wedro about Austin Daye’s medical history. Some background from Andy Katz of ESPN:

Daye was told by doctors at UCLA that he has a bone bruise and a minor, low-grade tear that won’t require surgery. Instead, Daye and his parents Darren and Tamara said Thursday that he simply needs to rest the next three weeks.

Over the weekend, the first reading of an MRI produced a diagnosis that he had a torn ACL, would need surgery and could be gone for six to 12 months. The injury, which was first believed to be a tendon injury in his hamstring, occurred during drills at the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy on July 8 in Akron, Ohio.

Daye was told Thursday that he shouldn’t have any problem playing for the Zags next season after strengthening his right knee this summer.

Reports said he was slower through the first half of last season, which would be about through December. Daye also did very poorly at the NBA combine last month (testing last or near-last for his vertical, agility, strength and sprint), but there are no reports linking that performance to his injury.

Dr. Wedro’s assessment:

If I understand the situation, Daye hurt his knee and the initial diagnosis was a hamstring tendon injury (where the tendon inserts behind the knee into the tibia). Subsequently, he had an MRI and the initial reading was that of an ACL tear. A second opinion of the MRI was obtained and there was disagreement with the torn ACL diagnosis. Instead, the “new” diagnosis is that of a bone bruise and minor tear, I presume of the ACL, that will heal on its own.

If the second diagnosis is correct, that is there is not a complete tear of the ACL, then the knee should heal completely and not physically limit Daye. There is always the emotional concern when an elite athlete questions his body’s ability to perform to a high level without question. Playing through pain is a difficult concept and often the body attempts to protect the injured area by causing the muscles around the injury to go into spasm. This may potentially limit flexibility and power and affect performance.

I guess it’s comforting knowing we shouldn’t really worry about Daye’s injury going forward.

Draft review: Austin Daye


Pick: 15

Position: Small forward/ power forward

School: Gonzaga

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 192 pounds

Age: 21

Projections and profiles

NBADraft.net (profile): 30

Daye somehow got an invite to the green room which would suggest some team is set to take him in the top 20. However, the rumor was that Detroit would take him, yet most people are convinced they won’t. Daye can shoot it, but he may not see any game action for a few years.

Draft Express (profile): 25

STRENGTHS: Excellent skill-level, Mismatch Potential, Scoring instincts, Timing, Ability to put ball on floor, Excellent hands, Excellent Touch, Finesse, Ability to contest shots, Shot-blocking tools, Potential, Basketball instincts, Ability to finish around basket, Coordination, Size for position, Wingspan, Defensive rebounding, 3-point range, 3-point shooting percentages, Ability to catch and shoot, Ability to shoot off the dribble, Shooting mechanics

WEAKNESSES: Ability to get to free throw line, Inability to establish position in post, Ability to defend position at next level?, Ability to fight through screens, Foul prone, Gets backed down in post, Lateral quickness, Avoids contact, Body language, Maturity, Mental/Physical toughness?, Bad knees?, Ability to finish through contact, Average athleticism, Core strength, Frail frame, Lacks explosiveness, Lower body strength, Strength, Slow release

My NBA Draft (profile): 18

Versatile athletic forward with ideal size once he fills out his frame,6’10" 190lbs. Nice shooting touch with range, he is big enough to post up smaller defenders and quick enough handle to get by bigs. Athleticism allows him to get blocks and steals, but has tendency to get into foul trouble. Has the skills to dominate in college but plays with other talented more experienced players and gets out of the flow of the game and takes bad shots, and shows frustration. Reminiscent of a young Keith Van Horn. A top 5 talent, but needs to show he can stay healthy, and add much needed bulk. He could watch his stock soar if proves to be a dependable threat and zags make a deep tourney run, but could be well suited if he stays another year to add much needed bulk and be the teams primary option.

Sekou Smith for CBS Sports: 14

The Suns need to get younger everywhere and Daye is as talented as anyone still on the board, even if he is likely two or three years away from being a full-time starter. There are just so few shooters his size in any draft. Steve Kerr can’t pass him up.

Fred Kerber for CBS Sports: 20

Slender at 6-10, needs to develop an NBA body. Jazz might have to hurry the learning curve, depending on their free-agency status. A potential mismatch every night if he bulks and toughens.

Fox Sports: 24

The Trail Blazers are very deep and will likely go the "best player available" route, and that’s Daye. Daye’s skill set and 6-foot-10 frame have NBA scouts intrigued but he does lack physical strength. The Blazers can afford to take the plunge since they have the time and talent on hand to let him develop. Anyone could use a frontcourt player that can space the floor. Think: Mehmet Okur.

MLive: 14

Suns could use a backup point guard here, but Daye’s impressive shooting skills and size are too good to pass on.

Indianapolis Star: 18

Can score but will have to add strength to be effective in NBA.

Sporting News: 15

Depending on which player goes to Phoenix — Clark or Daye — the Pistons are a good bet to take the other.

Pistons.com: 23

It’s this kind of draft: Some players who have a chance to go in the lottery could slide all the way to the late first round. Such is the case with Gonzaga’s Austin Daye. Most scouts agree he would have benefited by another year in college, but if he falls this far the Kings will be tempted by his high ceiling and impressive mix of offensive skills.

Average: 20.1

Who I would’ve taken

  1. DeJuan Blair
  2. Ty Lawson
  3. James Johnson


Freshman 18.5 10.5 4.7 1.0 1.6 0.6 1.7 0.475 0.413 0.881
Sophomore 26.3 12.7 6.8 1.1 2.1 0.7 2.1 0.477 0.429 0.706


College recruiting rankings

Rivals: No. 25 overall, five stars

Scout: No. 68 overall, four stars

Reasons to be encouraged


Daye is probably the best shooter in the draft behind Stephen Curry. And he has the height and long arms to shoot over most players.

The Pistons were 27th in 3-point shooting last year, so Daye should help there.


As the Freep Press’s Drew Sharp points out, Daye could go a long way in changing the Pistons’ attitude. Last year’s team had a few too many bad seeds, and by all accounts, Daye won’t be another one.

Basketball I.Q.

From 48 Minutes of Hell’s Graydon Gordian, who talked to Daye at the combine:

As Tim said, Austin Daye comes across as bright. He is acutely aware of his build (or lack thereof) and seems focused on getting stronger. He also said that, given his current size, his “process is slower than some.” He recognizes that he might not be as immediately productive as players with an NBA-ready body. But of all the players I met, I felt he had one of the more fully developed conceptions of his own game.

In Arnie I trust

From Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Dumars consulted with strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander before selecting Daye.

"We met several times on Daye, just about his body and his ability to get stronger at that size," Dumars said. "If Arnie looks at me and says, ‘I don’t think I can put weight on this or get him stronger,’ I don’t know if I back away, but it would have given me more pause."

Clearly, Kander sees an NBA body lurking within Daye.

"Remember, he’s younger than Tay was and it’s really just a matter of taking care of his body," Curry said. "He will get stronger as he gets older. It’s not a matter of putting a certain number of pounds, it’s just about continuing to get his core stronger, get a routine and he should be fine."

Kander is the best in the business, so I trust Daye can add wait. But I’m not sure if Kander can project how added weight will affect Daye’s play.

Reasons to be discouraged


Fifty players players worked out at the NBA combine. Here’s how Daye ranked in a few categories:

  • No-step vertical: 49th
  • Max vertical: Tie for 49th
  • Bench Press: 49th (Of 49 because Sam Young didn’t lift)
  • Agility: 49th
  • Sprint: 50th

So, he’s slow, weak and can’t jump. He was so bad Ryan Feldman of The Hoops Report suspected Daye was dogging it.

Think about it. How many solid first round, maybe even lottery, prospects have ever been the worst or second worst in every single test? It’s one thing if he was only the weakest or only the slowest or only the least athletic, but all three?

We’re not talking about an out of shape big man here. We’re talking about Austin Daye.

Can a wing player who is the slowest, weakest, most unathletic player in the entire Draft class be a lottery pick? Apparently, it might be possible.

The question really isn’t whether or not a player like that could be a lottery pick. It’s whether or not the player in question is really what he made himself out to be last week in Chicago.

Daye couldn’t even lift the 185-pound bar once. (On the bright side, neither could Kevin Durant).

Feldman raises the idea a team convinced Daye to not go his fullest with the promise it would take him. But I doubt it was Detroit, considering the 15th pick is relatively low to take a chance like that.

So, one of two things happened – neither of which excites me.

1. Daye thought he had a promise and took it easy at the Combine. This suggests he’s not as smart as he gets credit for.

2. And this possibility is much more troubling – he’s the most unathletic first-round pick ever.


Sure, Dumars claimed Daye looked good in workouts against stronger players. But he has an incentive to say that. Here’s what a neutral observer told Draft Express:

Austin Daye vs. Omri Casspi turned into a real wrestling match. Casspi just manhandled Daye, really threw him around. It was a bit disappointing to see how little Daye was able to compete from a strength perspective—Casspi is a kind of a skinny guy himself. At one point Casspi cut Daye’s lip open–he had to go to hospital for stitches. The Nets should have done a better job of getting someone to call fouls. Casspi was fouling the hell out of Daye. Some of the guys were looking at each other like ‘what are we watching here?’


Here’s how bad news gets worse quickly:

Daye never made his all-conference team.

Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference, the 15th-ranked conference in the nation.

The WCC selects a whopping 10 players to its all-conference team.

Free throws

I have no idea what to make of this, but the biggest difference in Daye’s stats between his freshman and sophomore seasons came at the free-throw line. His percentage dropped 17 percent – from 88 percent to 71 percent.

Is that anything to read into?


Daye battled colds throughout his freshman year, according to a 2008 report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Irvine, Calif., native attributed it to the weather in Spokane, Wash.

How will Detroit’s harsh winters affect him?


He’s unathletic, wasn’t that good in college and isn’t very tough. How’s does that make him a pick in the top half of the first round, even in a weak draft?

But at least he’s not B.J. Mullens.



Draft live blog

I have to work during most, if not all, of the draft. But the good folks of the TrueHoop Network, led by Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm, will host a live blog.

Just to recap my “Who will the Pistons draft” series, which you can read below, here are my projected picks:

15: Earl Clark

35: Dionte Christmas

39: Danny Green

44: Jerel McNeal

And here’s my list of the top 15 players.

<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=c107dde33d” mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=c107dde33d”>TrueHoop Network NBA Draft Liveblog-O-Rama-Rama</a>

My draft board

I won’t be around during the draft. But whoever is the highest player on this list is available at 15 is who I’d take.

1. Blake Griffin

2. Hasheem Thabeet

3. Tyreke Evans

4. James Harden

5. Dejuan Blair

6. Ty Lawson

7. Stephen Curry

8. Brandon Jennings

9. Ricky Rubio

10. Earl Clark

11. DeMar DeRozan

12. Terrence Williams

13. Tyler Hansbrough

14. Johnny Flynn

15. Jordan Hill

This isn’t based on positional needs. For the most part, I think teams should take the best player available.

Who wil the Pistons draft?: Second-round picks


  1. Availability (first round)
  2. Position
  3. Production
  4. Eligibility
  5. Locality
  6. Wingspan

Here’s a look at where the second-rounders left on the board are projected to be picked:

Name .Net DX My YS Avg. Avail. 35 Avail. 39 Avail. 44
Toney Douglass 29 39 34 39 35.3 50% 50% 0%
Danny Green 45 42 42 44 43.3 100% 100% 75%
Dajuan Summers 26 35 25 35 30.3 50% 0% 0%
Derrick Brown 21 44 40 31 34 50% 50% 50%
Josh Heytvelt 28 37 43 45 38.3 75% 50% 25%
Taj Gibson 30 36 30 40 34 50% 25% 0%
Jeff Adrien 41 44 46 43.7 100% 100% 75%
Jermaine Taylor 38 34 46 37 38.8 75% 25% 25%
Jerel McNeal 43 50 56 52 50.3 100% 100% 75%
Dionte Christmas 32 49 47 42 42.5 75% 75% 50%


  • .net: NBADraft.net
  • DX: DraftExpress
  • My: My NBA Draft
  • YS: Yahoo! Sports (second round)
  • Avg.: Average pick the mocks have that player chosen
  • Avail. 35: Percentage of mocks that have the player available at the 35th pick
  • Avail. 39: Percentage of mocks that have the player available at the 39th pick
  • Avail. 4: Percentage of mocks that have the player available at the 44th pick

Half of the six first-round-only mocks I used in projecting the availability of first round picks have Summers, Brown and Gibson going in the first round. And two have Douglass taken in the first round, too.

I don’t think any of the four will be available at 35. So, that leaves the board like this:

Point guard

Name School Height Wingspan Projected
Jrue Holiday UCLA 6’ 3.25” 6’ 7” 13
Jeff Teague Wake Forest 6’ 0.25” 6’ 7.5” 20
Toney Douglass Florida State 6’ 1” 6’ 6” 36
Rodrigue Beaubois France 6’ 1.25” 6’ 9.75” 39
Greivis Vasquez Maryland 6’ 4.75” 6’ 7.25” 56

Shooting guard

Name School Height Wingspan Projected
Gerald Henderson Duke 6’ 4” 6’ 10.25” 12
Terrence Williams Louisville 6’ 5” 6’ 9” 16
Jermaine Taylor Central Florida 6’ 3.5” 6’ 8.75” 32
Jerel McNeal Marquette 6’ 1.5” 6’ 7.25” 46
Dionte Christmas Temple 6’ 4.25” 6’ 9” 59

Small forward

Name School Height Wingspan Projected
Austin Daye Gonzaga 6’ 9.75” 7’ 2.75” 15
James Johnson Wake Forest 6’ 7” 7’ 0.75” 18
Sam Young Pittsburgh 6’ 5.25” 6’ 10.75” 25
Danny Green North Carolina 6’ 5.25” 6’ 10” 35
Damion James Texas 6’ 6.25” 7’ 0.25” 42
Joe Ingles Australia 6’ 7.75” 6’ 10.25” 52
Tyler Smith Tennessee 6’ 5.25” 6’ 9.75” No

Power forward

Name School Height Wingspan Projected
Dejuan Blair Pittsburgh 6’ 5.25” 7’ 2” 11
Earl Clark Louisville 6’ 8.5” 7’ 2.5” 14
Gani Lawal Georgia Tech 6’ 7.75” 7’ 0” 23
DaJuan Summers Georgetown 6’ 7.25” 7’ 0.75” 31
Derrick Brown Xavier 6’ 7.5” 7’ 2.5” 41
Josh Heytvelt Gonzaga 6’ 10” 7’ 1.25” 50
Taj Gibson USC 6’ 8.5” 7’ 4” 53
Jeff Adrien Connecticut 6’ 5.25” 7’ 2” No

There are five second-round targets remaining:

  • Jermaine Taylor
  • Jerel McNeal
  • Dionte Christmas
  • Danny Green
  • Josh Heytvelt
  • Jeff Adrien

Dumars has made three picks in the top half of the second-round – and he used them both on players who could play right away, regardless of their upside.

The first was Brian Cardinal, a scrappy, yet relatively unathletic, forward from Purdue. The second was Mehmet Okur, who had played professionally in Turkey and had a pretty polished offensive game.

After Detroit went 32-50 in 2000-01 (and in all odds, set to get another high pick the next year), Dumars traded his next second-rounder for Zeljko Rebraca. Rebraca became a 33-year-old rookie who was ready to compete right away – further proving Dumars looks to get safe players in the top half of the second round.

The exception is Walter Sharpe, who was picked 32nd last year based on his potential. But it appeared many of his problems could be attributed to his narcolepsy. It’s different taking a chance on a player when you have a clear solution to his problems – unlike most projects.

The Pistons would like to use two second-round picks on players who will play in Europe, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. But that article was written before Amir Johnson was traded. With another open roster spot, a second cheap player this year would probably come in handy. So, I’m going only project one pick to Europe.

Danny Green and Dionte Christmas are both good players with limited upside and seem like they’ll be around for the first two picks. Jerel McNeal, based on this Southtown Star article, seems like the type who would be willing to go Europe.

Then, the Marquette junior declared for the draft but pulled out after he was named an alternate rather than rating an invitation to the NBA’s draft camp.

“It could have changed in the next day or so, and guys might have dropped out and I could have told I was going to be in,” McNeal told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel at the time. “I’ve got one year left and an opportunity to do some great things (at Marquette) that are going to be very important to me down the line. I think staying here and being here for another year is much more important than actually going through that whole process, trying to squeeze out a spot when people may not necessarily want you.”

Those three are my picks.

Second-round projections:

35: Dionte Christmas

39: Danny Green

44: Jerel McNeal