Archive → July, 2010
Trade Idea: Rip Hamilton could give the Toronto Raptors needed scoring and Jose Calderon could give the Detroit Pistons stable point guard play
- Jose Calderon (10.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.7 steals)
- Reggie Evans (3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.5 steals)
- Rip Hamilton (18.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.7 steals)
- Chris Wilcox (4.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals)
- Fully unguaranteed if waived on or before Aug. 15, 2012
Unlike many people out there, I don’t believe it’s imperative that the Pistons trade Rip Hamilton. But in the event that they do, I also don’t believe that a comparably talented big man is coming back in return. There really just aren’t many out there who would help.
Even an all-baggage team guy like Zach Randolph, who is again having some off-the-court problems, is not a guy who can easily be obtained. He has an always valuable expiring contract and Memphis has Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo on the perimeter, so Hamilton probably isn’t high on their wish list.
So if a good big man is likely out of the question, and if Hamilton is dealt, the Pistons should try to net a competent point guard in return. Calderon is a great shooter — nearly 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the line for his career. He’s very steady running an offense with nearly a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio for his career. And if you have any doubts that the Pistons could use a more willing passer in the backcourt, just compare Calderon’s assist percentage (assists per 100 possessions) to the Pistons’ guards last season: Will Bynum led Detroit at 28.2 percent. Rodney Stuckey, who played the bulk of the team’s PG minutes, was at 24.7 percent. Calderon’s was at 33.8 percent last year, and that was the worst mark he had since his rookie season. His two previous seasons in Toronto, he was over 40 percent.
He does have downsides. Namely, he’s pretty terrible defensively, although you have to admire the way he didn’t get rattled when Kevin Garnett was pulling his annual ‘pick on men much smaller than me’ tricks a year ago. Replacing Hamilton with Calderon undoubtedly makes the Pistons backcourt a little worse defensively, but with Stuckey’s progression as a defender a year ago, the benefits Calderon will bring to the offense might be worth it.
The other piece in the trade is Evans, who has an expiring contract. But while that is the most appealing part of what Evans brings, he might also fill a need. The Pistons have been searching for a veteran big man in free agency. I have my doubts they’ll be able to find one — veteran bigs tend to be in demand and tend to end up chasing rings on good teams. Detroit, as a rebuilding project with serious roster questions, doesn’t fit that mold, so getting a guy like Evans, a hard-nosed (Chris Kaman may describe him differently) hustle player and rebounder, via trade might be the best bet for Detroit. Evans has injury concerns, but if he’s semi-healthy, he’d be an adequate presence off the bench for Detroit.
Since I have impeccable timing, I began writing this post the day before Calderon was reportedly traded to Charlotte. I sent out e-mails to the guys at Raptors Republic, asking for their take on whether or not this was an offer they could see the team be interested in. Then, about a half hour after sending, it was reported that Calderon-to-Charlotte was official, so my first PistonPowered trade idea post looked ruined.
But shortly after the reports, Michael Jordan perhaps sensibly thought pairing a defensively challenged PG signed long-term with Larry Brown was not the best match, and backed out of the Calderon deal.
The general consensus in Raptors land is that GM Bryan Colangelo is pretty clearly looking for salary relief (the Charlotte deal would’ve been for expiring contract Tyson Chandler) in any deal for Calderon, which makes my little Hamilton scenario a bit more far-fetched, but two of the guys from Raptors Republic had brief replies when they thought Calderon was headed out of town to Charlotte. Here were the responses I got:
"I don’t think the Raptors would have any interest whatsoever in Rip Hamilton since we have two guys in Weems and DeRozan that are being bandied about as the future here. Hamilton’s contract is very similar to Turkoglu’s, if not worse, and I just don’t see Colangelo taking that on."
"I would have liked to get Richard Hamilton truth be told, but getting Diaw and Barbosa looks to be a better fit (given the euro style we want to play)."
I disagree vehemently with the Turkoglu comparison. Contract-wise, Turkoglu is signed for one more year than Hamilton (he has a player option for 2013-14). He also appears to be rapidly declining and had a lousy season in Toronto. Hamilton is still a 20 points per game scorer, efficient and keeps himself in great shape. There’s no question that his contract is a much better value than Turkoglu’s.
That being said, I can certainly appreciate that Toronto wouldn’t be looking to add long-term deals or guys who would play in front of their promising Weems/DeRozan combo. I’m not sure a team is willingly going to give the Raps a starting center with an expiring contract for a solid but flawed and fairly expensive PG like Calderon now that the Chandler trade fell through, however.
There probably wouldn’t be much interest in this trade by either team, but as I’ve pointed out, I view the Pistons’ current personnel better suited to run a more free-wheeling offense, and a point guard like Calderon would go a long way toward making them a more exciting team to watch.
I didn’t post a full recap on the Pistons’ Summer League finale, simply because there was only one thing in the game worth writing about.
After a few so-so performances that led to many questioning his energy level, Greg Monroe showed the skillset that made him a lottery pick in Detroit’s loss to New York Friday. Monroe had 27 points and 12 14 rebounds. While he only finished with 2 assists, he would’ve had at least three more — he made the right pass to teammates who just failed to convert on open shots. When he’s playing with the regular season roster, that won’t be a concern.
But I didn’t come away from Friday’s game thinking about the Summer League. I came away thinking hard about how Greg Monroe fits with the regular season roster (barring a trade), and at the risk of pissing off Chris Webber (hey C-Webb … at least Monroe is better than Darko), I am envisioning a future Pistons lineup that resembles what the early 2000s Sacramento Kings did.
If you remember those Kings teams, they operated with a point guard in name only. Mike Bibby’s job was to dribble the ball up-court and make a quick decision — shoot himself, get it to the high post (to Webber, Vlade Divac or later, Brad Miller) or hit one of the team’s shooters (Peja Stojakovic, Hedo Turkoglu, et. al.). The majority of the Kings’ offense was run through the post, thanks to the luxury of having big men who could face up, see the floor and generally make good decisions.
Bibby didn’t dominate the ball. He’s not what anyone would call an elite ball-handler. He was a very good player and a great clutch shooter.
And when you look at what he did for the Kings, there’s a guy on the Pistons who has a pretty similar skillset: Ben Gordon. Now, Bibby probably handles and passes better than Gordon, Gordon’s a better scorer than Bibby. But Gordon dribbles well enough to advance the ball upcourt. Perhaps giving him a similar assignment — advance the ball, quickly shoot or make a pass that gets the team into its offense — would break him of the bad habit he has of dribbling the air out of the ball. After Gordon advances the ball and gets it where it needs to go, he becomes important for spacing, just like Bibby was for Sacramento.
This moves Stuckey over to the off-guard spot. Not that he can’t bring the ball up or get the Pistons into their offense if necessary, but Gordon’s shooting ability makes him a guy the opposing defense would have to find right away because of the threat of the quick shot. Stuckey actually moves very well without the ball, but we just haven’t seen him much without the ball in his hands, so he hasn’t fully displayed it. Playing him with Gordon, but switching their responsibilities, allows Stuckey to focus on scoring. Defensively, he’d take the opposing team’s best guard, similar to how the Kings used Doug Christie.
The final member of that Kings lineup was Peja Stojakovic, a tall shooter who was simply on the court to score. Although in-his-prime Peja was rightfully known for this three-point stroke, before he was beset by injuries, he could actually score in a variety of ways. The Pistons just so happen to have a lanky guy with a nice stroke on their roster in Austin Daye, and as he showed this summer, Daye has a couple of counter-moves in his arsenal and is developing a decent mid-range game.
Now, of course, my way-too-generous take on the Pistons lineup doesn’t take into consideration a few big factors: for the time being, Daye and Gordon are behind Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, so if Monroe starts, he probably won’t play many minutes with Daye or Gordon. Secondly, John Kuester doesn’t seem particularly interested in changing the offensive system, ill-fitting personnel be damned. Third, the Kings had two great passing big men in Webber/Divac. The Pistons have a rookie who might be one.
But watching Monroe pick apart the Knicks, after watching a full season a year ago with several skilled players not living up to their potential, was another reminder that the Pistons actually have the personnel to be an entertaining offensive team. It’s obviously a stretch to compare them to a great up-tempo team like the Kings, but I think most fans would agree that trying a different offensive philosophy would be preferable to watching another season filled with constant isos, the team scoring in the 80s most nights and no ball movement or spacing.
Here were a couple other takes on Monroe’s strong game:
Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: “No big man in the 2010 draft class has a more aesthetically pleasing offensive repertoire, something that was captured on a single play in the first half when he delivered a no-look interior pass in the paint, through traffic, to his baseline cutter. When the ball clanked out, Monroe — a prolific collegiate rebounder — grabbed it, then muscled his way to the rim through a scrum of Knick defenders for a basket-and-one. It was an assertive possession for a guy sometimes unfairly tagged with the soft label.”
Matt Watson, FanHouse: “Despite standing an inch shy of seven-feet, Monroe is known to be more of a finesse big man than a bruiser, but his offensive talents should complement Ben Wallace’s defense-first mentality on Detroit’s front line — assuming they share the court together. Wallace, who signed a two-year contract to remain with the Pistons earlier this summer, started 67 of his 69 games last season at center. That just so happens to be Monroe’s natural position, as well, although he certainly has the versatility to slide to power forward. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.”
The purpose of this article is not to tell you what I want to happen, it is to tell you what I think could happen.
The Pistons moving to Nevada could be a viable possibility.
This whole thing basically started with David Stern’s press conference the other day, when he was asked about the Pistons’ future in Detroit. He gave a very Stern-like response:
“We like to stay where we are, but if you judge us by our past we haven’t been entirely successful,” Stern said. “But our first choice is always to have the team sold to somebody that will keep it in the market.”
Now because he’s David Stern, this caused the, “Oh my God, the Pistons are totally moving,” bandwagon to get started again. This, coupled with the fact that the Las Vegas Sun reported that an anonymous team was already under contract to move to Vegas, provided public funding for a new arena could be delivered, meant that the Pistons were totally out of here.
Hysteria ensued, causing the Pistons to release a statement denying all of this:
“While there is no substantive news to report regarding the sale of the Detroit Pistons, our ownership group has absolutely nothing to do with any proposal that would move the team to Las Vegas. As stated since the beginning of this process, the preference is to find an ownership group that is committed to Detroit and the surrounding area.”
But hey, the team has to deny this, right? I mean, even if this were true, they’re still going to be in Detroit for a while at least, and probably want to avoid the embarrassing lame-duck status the Thunder Sonics went through in their last season in Seattle. Well, if that’s not enough of a denial, there was this report from Vince Ellis of the Free Press:
“We categorically deny that there is an NBA team under contract (to move to Vegas),” NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the Free Press today.
Teams with much richer histories than the Pistons have moved. But they are far from the only NBA franchise with a not-so-great financial situation going in their home city. Vegas has long been a desired NBA market, and only recently has Stern become more amenable to going against those pesky moral stands on gambling he’s taken in the past. So of the handful of teams that may have an interest in moving, why are the Pistons automatically the most logical choice?
The ownership situation is obviously a factor. But teams get sold fairly often, and in the last 30 years, only five franchises have moved. What other cities should be worried about their team moving to Vegas? I’d say these teams all would have at least tepid interest: New Orleans, Charlotte, Memphis and let’s throw Sacramento in just because of that whole Maloof connection, even though they are denying. These franchises all have as many, if not more, uncertainties than the Pistons, with the added bonus of not really doing well attendance-wise.
Even with a miserable season, the Pistons still ranked eighth in the league in attendance last year. They were first in 2009, first in 2008, second in 2007, first in 2006 and first in 2005. Compare:
- Kings: 29th; 30th; 27th; 16th; 14th; 13th
- Hornets: 28th; 19th; 26th; 15th; 11th (aided by playing games in Oklahoma City); 30th
- Bobcats: 22nd; 26th; 24th; 27th; 22nd; 28th
- Grizzlies: 23rd; 29th; 29th; 30th; 26th; 19th
Typically, when a franchise wants to move, it has to prove to the league that it’s not in a market where it can viably succeed, either because of facilities or lack of a fanbase. The Pistons still have one of the best facilities in the NBA at the Palace of Auburn Hills. And as the attendance suggests over the last six years, they can routinely fill the building.
When the Sonics left Seattle, there were issues with the arena and the team had been in the 20s in attendance for several seasons. Some of the above teams, to me, would have much better cases to leave a city than the Pistons, even if new ownership did want to move the team. The Kings, even in the early 2000s when they were a title contender, couldn’t crack the top 10 in attendance. The Grizzlies were a playoff team before they gave away Pau Gasol, and yet only made it into the top 20 once in six years. The Hornets have one of the five best players in the league and only made it into the top 15 once, and that was when they were playing a significant portion of their home games in Oklahoma City. The Bobcats made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and were purchased by the biggest star in NBA history last year, yet couldn’t get into the top 20.
So yeah, when people like Otto write that it “could be a viable possibility,” they are kind of right I guess. But it’s not particularly easy to move a franchise, let alone one with a great building and a strong history of filling it every year. To say that the Pistons are anything more than a very remote possibility to move seems like a pretty big stretch.
Most people thought it was just another entry in the annual “topic Bill Simmons will write about way too much” a year or so ago when he launched his “Minnesota should hire me as general manager” campaign. Then the T-Wolves went out and hired a man who makes actually seem like the more sensible choice.
Anyway, most Pistons fans reacted with a collected LOLZ when David Kahn handed Darko Milicic four years/$20 million this offseason. Then this week, he gave away Al Jefferson for basically nothing to clear a starting spot for Darko. And, as his appearance during a Summer League game on NBA TV shows, he’d like everyone to think he’s a genius for it.
Former Piston Chris Webber was being a sport at first, trying to hide his chuckles. Then Kahn compared Darko to C-Webb’s former Sacramento teammate (and good friend) Vlade Divac. C-Webb didn’t like that. Then Kahn went one step further and tried to compare Darko to C-Webb himself. Needless to say, Webber had to end the conversation.
I watch this video, and no matter how bad the Pistons roster gets, it makes me happy that David Kahn is not running my favorite team. How sad for T-Wolves fans.
(Hat-tip, Ball Don’t Lie)
Greg Monroe has his best game, but with Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko out, the Detroit Pistons lose second straight
With key players Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko out for the Pistons and the Heat missing second round picks Jarvis Varnado and Dexter Pittman, there wasn’t much exciting about Summer League game four, unless you’re interested in DaJuan Summers‘ apparent yearly habit of looking like a legit NBA prospect every July.
Summers had his strongest game so far, but the Pistons shot the ball miserably to fall to 2-2.
There wasn’t much to note. Terrico White played a lot more off the ball in this game with Edgar Sosa getting a start, and he happened to have his worst game. Greg Monroe had his best game, although the critics who keep complaining about his motor were likely not appeased. The big man had some lapses in the middle of the game, but did unveil a couple nice counter-moves to get off hook shots in the post. He also finished the game stronger than he has been, showing that maybe his stamina is improving. (Side note: I’m not that worried about Monroe’s motor if he’s going to be on the court with Ben Wallace and/or Jerebko a lot during the season. He’s playing right now with sometimes four guys who have questionable motors. He’ll look better when he’s playing next to better players).
But I won’t just leave you with a few sentences of analysis. I’m long-winded. Let’s look at the non-Pistons on the Summer League roster. It’s doubtful any will make the team, but are they legit NBA prospects? Here’s my breakdown:
Edgar Sosa – Eventually
Edgar Sosa‘s had a few nice flashes in the Summer League, and the fact that he’s a four-year PG who played four years at a Big East school will only help, since there is a dearth of quality PGs in the NBA. He’s a streaky shooter and wasn’t a great distributor or defender at Louisville. He also landed in Rick Pitino’s doghouse a couple times. Sosa will be a very good professional player somewhere next year, but not the NBA. His game needs some refining, but it’s conceivable he could spend a couple years overseas and then win a job in the NBA.
Mac Koshowal – Yes
Mac Koshowal already looks the part with his frame, and he’s had such good energy and proven to be a good enough rebounder this summer that it wouldn’t completely shock me if he makes the team, given the current state of big men. If the Pistons find another big via trade or free agency, his chances become non-existent, but he has the most upside of any non-roster guy on the Pistons summer team.
Marquez Haynes – Maybe
Marquez Haynes has been solid in limited minutes. Every time he comes into the game, the pace picks up, he’s quick, he gets people involved, he can finish (although he missed, he got up pretty high on a lob from A.J. Slaughter last night) and he has a nice looking jumper. He would put up numbers in the D-League and, like Sosa, with his point guard skills, if he refines his passing and defense, he could find himself in the league.
Jared Reiner – No
Jared Reiner, unlike the other guys, has a decent amount of NBA experience. He’s put up great numbers in the D-League, but he just doesn’t look physically strong enough to me to hold up in the NBA as a reliable rotation big. He’s 7-feet and plays hard, so he could easily find himself on the end of a bench somewhere, but he’s also not really a prospect anymore, so a team might be more inclined to keep a big with more upside. I was excited to see Reiner on the Pistons summer roster, but in hindsight, it would’ve been nice if they looked at a beefier D-League alum, like Garret Siler, who had a nice game for the Heat last night.
Jordan Egleseder – No
This one’s not really hard. Jordan Egleseder just isn’t strong enough or athletic enough to play in the NBA, and he can’t stay on the court very long even in Summer League games because opposing bigs really exploit that. He has nice range for such a big man and is skilled enough that he could be a good player in Europe, but right now he’s just too passive.
Elijah Milsap – No
Elijah Milsap plays really hard, sometimes too hard. He makes ill-advised drives into traffic, but he’s not a great finisher because he’s not quite athletic enough to go inside and dunk over people and doesn’t really seem to have the finesse to adjust or double-pump to get his shot off from different angles. He’s pretty strong for a guard, and at 6-foot-6, has good size, but his future is at guard, and unfortunately his skillset is more like a forward. He does have a pretty nice jumper though.
Patrick Christopher – Incomplete
Patrick Christopher has barely played, which is probably a bad sign for his NBA hopes. But giving him the benefit of the doubt, he’s also a wing player on a summer league team loaded with wing guys. I’d say probably no, but I’ll withhold judgment until the end of the summer league just in case he gets some extended minutes.
A.J. Slaughter – Maybe
The Pistons liked A.J. Slaughter, and he has shown a nice shooting touch. He was a shooting guard in college but he’s listed at (a generous) 6-foot-3, so if he can play the point, it would be advantageous for him. Small school guys like Slaughter have a chance to go overseas, work on some things, and resurface as solid players (see: Anthony Parker, Charlie Bell).
Patrick Hayes broke down the matchups against the Kings yesterday, which I thought made a lot of sense given Sacramento’s Summer League roster. Like Patrick, I didn’t see much from any non-Pistons draft pick, and Jonas Jerebko sat out. Here’s my independent view of Detroit’s four major players who played against the Kings:
- Austin Daye’s sore hip and hamstring hurt his speed, he told Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News. Well, I’ll give Daye a pass for being slower, but that didn’t look like too much of his problem.
- Daye was frustrated by the Kings’ physical defense, and he let it take over his game. He shot two airballs. He forced shots. He committed a bunch of sloppy fouls. And his body langue looked terrible.
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook noticed Daye did a much better job of turning and facing amid contact in his first two Summer League games than he did last year. Against the Kings, that wasn’t the case.
- Playing physical doesn’t come naturally to Daye. At times, when defending on the wing, he tried to be physical. But he was so obvious about it, he was called for a foul.
- Daye is still too weak to provide help defense inside.
- He had a nice crossover to beat his man and draw a foul. A good dribbler, Daye could probably do that more often.
- Ryan Thompson dribbled right past Daye to start second half.
- Greg Monroe was tired in the fourth quarter again.
- He had a strong roll on a pick and roll for a basket and went up strong on a putback. Those are two reasons I don’t overly question Monroe’s motor. I just question his endurance.
- He set another blatant illegal screen. His illegal screen against the Lakers was so ridiculous, I chalked it up to nerves, slipping or something like that. Now, Monroe’s inability to set a good pick has become a real concern.
- He runs the break better than I thought he could, especially without the ball. But he’s a little out of control when he has the ball and is leading the break.
- Monroe had some trouble dribbling with his back to the basket.
- DeMarcus Cousins abused him in the post. And Monroe didn’t use his strength advantage over Hassan Whiteside inside either. Monroe won’t have the strength advantage over a lot of big men yet, but I think his frame will allow him to gain a lot of strength. I’m troubled he doesn’t have the technique to take advantage of the situations where he’s already stronger.
- He showed nice awareness, jumping in front of and stealing an entry pass to Cousins. That came a possession after Monroe was called for offensive foul, and he looked geared up. I’d like to see him that interested in every defensive possession.
- Terrico White’s offensive moves look excellent when he’s looking for his shot. In particular, there was one play where he brought the ball up, the defender sagged too far, and White drained a beautiful-looking 19-foot jumper. But he was thinking shot the moment he crossed half-court.
- The question becomes, can he score when not looking for his own shot? I don’t think he’s a good enough scorer to play shooting guard in this league regularly, and if he’s playing point guard, he can’t think shot first at all times.
- Let’s stop the Rodney Stuckey comparisons. Both are athletic combo guards, but they play very differently. Stuckey attacks the rim much better than White, and White has a better jumper.
- White showed good point-guard skills on the fastbreak.
- White showed poor point-guard skills in the half-court, particularly entry passes.
- He extended his off arm on a drive and was called for an offensive foul. He looked uncomfortable in that situation, and you can see why he didn’t get to the free-throw line more at Mississippi.
- White showed his supreme jumping ability on a pair of alley-oop attempts. One, he caught almost as high as I’ve ever seen a guard go up and dunked. The other, the fumbled in the air.
- DaJuan Summers’ jumper continues to look good.
- He does a nice job of using his body to bump guys off and create room to shoot.
- He’s also a bit of a ball hog. I’m not sure he’s good at anything besides scoring.
- Although to be fair, I’m not sure he’s really bad at anything.
- On the other hand, he lit up the Summer League last year, too. I think Rob Mahoney’s thoughts on Donté Greene might apply to Summers:
"It’s entirely possible that Donté Greene was put on this planet purely to thrive in Summer League games. His ball-handling skills and decision-making aren’t exposed against the inferior competition, and he essentially has license to fire at will. As a result, Greene reveals the flashes that made him such an intriguing prospect coming out of Syracuse. Yet that’s part of the problem. Greene is so athletic and so talented for a 6-foot-11 player, but he’s more or less the same talent he was a year ago or the year before that. Donté manages to catch lightning in a bottle in Vegas, but in the big leagues? He still has a fair way to go."
Object of Detroit Pistons fans’ affection DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings win big in Summer League game four
It’s a habit I hope not to get into for long, but we’re in Summer League, so I can get away with it. I’m going to start off with an excuse — the Sacramento Kings’ Summer League roster is pretty loaded with arguably the second-best player in this year’s draft (DeMarcus Cousins), a second rounder with lottery talent (Hassan Whiteside was in the top 10 in some mocks before poor workouts/attitude questions), an All-Rookie performer (Omri Casspi) and another recent first round pick (Donte Greene).
The Detroit roster not only can’t compete with that pedigree, but the Pistons’ most accomplished player, Jonas Jerebko, didn’t play. Consequently, we saw an overmatched team get blown out. There was little to take away from the game, other than it was hopefully a learning experience for the young players, who faced some pretty good NBA rotation players.
The other night, I gave some notes on individual players. Today, I’ll talk a little about some of the matchups instead.
Austin Daye vs. Omri Casspi
Austin Daye, through two games, looked confident and ready to step into the rotation after having a short leash all of last season. But playing primarily against a rookie (Devin Ebanks) in game one and a guy who spent part of last season in the D-League (Reggie Williams) in game two, Daye had his first real test in Casspi, a strong wing player who gave Daye the business a bit last year. Here’s what Dan Feldman wrote before the game:
Like Sebastian Pruiti, I’m looking forward to the Austin Daye-Omri Casspi matchup. Daye has been much more aggressive in Las Vegas, but part of me thinks that’s only because he knows he should own this lesser competition.
Such a prophetic guy, that Feldman. Casspi was a step quicker all night, beating Daye on cuts to the basket, beating him down the floor and, on defense, forcing Daye consistently into spots on the floor where he’s not comfortable. Daye finished 0-for-7, had terrible body language and no energy. A hallmark of Daye’s season a year ago were momentary flashes followed by prolonged disappearances. How he rebounds in the Pistons next game should say a lot about whether he’s worked at the mental side of the game this offseason.
Greg Monroe vs. DeMarcus Cousins
Pistons fans didn’t hide the fact that Cousins was the guy they overwhelmingly wanted in the NBA Draft, and although Greg Monroe may very well prove to be a nice consolation prize, Cousins is clearly a top-three talent in this draft. Monroe wasn’t the only Piston to guard him, particularly early, but Cousins basically had his way with every Pistons big.
Like the others, Monroe struggled to prevent Cousins from establishing the position he wanted around the basket. He bit on Cousins’ post moves. Monroe committed a couple silly offensive fouls trying to push Cousins out of his way and clear space. He clearly was frustrated, and his energy level suffered as a result in the second half.
There was one sequence where Monroe displayed a little feistiness, which was a good sign. Cousins had just bullied his way inside for a bucket, then forced Monroe to commit one of his aforementioned offensive fouls. Cousins was giving it to Monroe a bit on the way back down the court, and it seemed to wake Monroe up for a second. Cousins immediately tried to post him up again and went about it a bit lazily. Monroe fought him for the position and showed nice quickness slipping around Cousins and intercepting the entry pass.
It’s really hard to gauge Monroe. When he plays within himself and doesn’t force things, he looks like a really nice player. But he’s pressed often this summer, inexplicably pushing the ball up-court when he should be finding his PG and instead running the floor himself. Summer League is not always conducive to passing, because it’s kind of a get-mine exhibition, but we haven’t really seen much of the court vision Monroe was known for at Georgetown. I’m not worried by any means, but I’m less sure that Monroe is going to be an immediate contributor this season. I think he’ll be in the rotation and get every chance to stay there, but he looks like he’s a bit shocked by the speed of the game compared to some other rookies, which is a little surprising considering he came from a really good basketball conference.
Everyone vs. Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside had five blocks in 27 minutes. He’s a good shot blocker, and I get that he’s a rookie, but that was basically the only elite skill he possessed heading into the draft. A few Pistons, apparently, didn’t get the scouting report. Whiteside got Monroe twice and Daye once early, and all three attempts were pretty weak considering a presence like Whiteside was lurking inside.
Non-roster guys vs. Non-roster guys
So far, there doesn’t appear to be a non-roster guy on the Pistons Summer League team that can help them, even in an end-of-the-bench role. I was intrigued by Jared Reiner, a guy with NBA experience who put up big numbers in the D-League. He got solid minutes in the first half, but got pushed around.
Mac Kowshwal has a NBA body and motor, and athletically, he looks like a rotation big. I just don’t know if he’s ready yet, despite some productive games. He’s a very good offensive rebounder and finishes well enough around the basket, but he frequently — even more so than Monroe — attempts to do things that are nowhere close to being in his skill-set. Of all the non-roster players, if any are going to make the team, I’d bet on him, but I still don’t think any will end up winning a job.
I like the pace Marquez Haynes plays at, but unless he can improbably and decisively out-play Terrico White this preseason, or unless the Pistons unload a couple guards in a trade, it’s just far-fetched to think he’ll make the roster.
Edgar Sosa is a true PG, but like a lot of solid college PGs (Mateen Cleaves, what?), doesn’t shoot the ball well enough to play the position in the NBA. Elijah Milsap got extended minutes and was aggressive, often to his own detriment — three of his drives were blocked at the rim.
Jordan Eglseder played a handful of minutes and despite his size, is not strong enough or athletic enough right now to compete against NBA bigs.
White had a couple for the Pistons, finishing an nice lob from Austin Daye with a dunk. He also showed something he has in each game, a nice ability to pull up off the dribble, have good balance and elevation and knock down a jumper. He’s not as good a player as Rodney Stuckey, but he’s a better shooter right now.
Kowshawl had a double-double, with 10 points and 12 rebounds (five offensive). He and White were easily the best Pistons on the court.
Like Sebastian Pruiti, I’m looking forward to the Austin Daye-Omri Casspi matchup. Daye has been much more aggressive in Las Vegas, but part of me thinks that’s only because he knows he should own this lesser competition. That wasn’t the case against Casspi last time.
If Daye has his way with Casspi tonight, I’ll have a lot more faith Daye deserves a spot in the rotation next season.
*Signed offer sheet
After Ben Wallace’s predictable signing, there’s more salary-cap news regarding the Pistons. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweeted Rodney Stuckey won’t receive a contract extension from Detroit:
Contract extension not happening for Rodney Stuckey, meaning he will be restricted free agent after next season – if there is a season.
At first glance, this seems like a lack of faith in Rodney Stuckey on the Pistons’ part. But maybe it’s just a shrewd business move.
In all likelihood, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will reduce the amount of money Stuckey can make when his contract expires.
Of course, an extension now could allow the Pistons to sign him cheaply before he has a good season. But it would probably take a monster season from Stuckey to override the benefits of the new CBA.
Obviously, situations like this are fluid. Stuckey can sign an extension until Oct. 31, according to Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ.