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Archive → July, 2010

Ben Wallace to re-sign with Detroit Pistons, why not for more money?

Larry Lage of the Associated Press tweeted Ben Wallace will return to the Detroit Pistons:

Ben Wallace told The AP today he will sign a 2-year deal soon with the Pistons. He will make $1.9 million per season.

And in case you think Ben Wallace is lying, Joe Dumars confirmed, according to Chris Iott of MLive.com.

Wallace re-signing should come as no surprise. But the terms of the contract do slightly – namely the years (although there’s a decent chance that second season is eaten by a lockout).

But the amount of money Wallace is slated to get is also a little perplexing.

Why the numbers sell Ben Wallace short

The minimum salary for a player of more than 10 years experience is $1,352,181 and $1,399,507 the following season ($2,751,688 total), according to Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ. So, Wallace has likely signed using the Bi-Annual exception.

The Bi-Annual Exception is $2.08 million this year, and the maximum raise the exception allows is eight percent, according to Coon. That means Wallace could’ve made $4,326,400 during the two-year contract.

Instead, he will make $3.8 million total.

So why the difference?

Wallace will earn between $1,826,924 and $1,979,167 next season. The Bi-Annual Exception exception can be split between two players, so my first thought was Wallace’s contract was designed to give Detroit room to sign another player.

But at most, his contract leaves $253,976 of the exception left this summer. That’s less than a minimum contract, so Wallace’s deal won’t help Detroit sign anyone under the Collective Bargaining Agreement rules.

Obviously, the Pistons are wary of paying the luxury tax (or more accurately, wary of not receiving the check teams under the tax receive). So, maybe Wallace’s contract will help them remain under the luxury tax. But given the salary cap is higher than expected, I doubt it.

I don’t know. Maybe there are trades in the works that would add to the Pistons’ salaries for next season and put them over the luxury-tax line. (Again, I doubt it.)

Wallace obviously could’ve gotten a bigger contract than this on the free market. He returned to Detroit because he’s comfortable here.

I think getting more than a minimum contract was important to Wallace. He’s a proud guy. So, maybe $1.9 million per season is all he truly wanted. No need to pay a guy more than he expects.

I hope that’s the case.

I would not be pleased if the Pistons low-balled Wallace because they knew he’d return. The wear and tear he put on his body for a team doomed for the lottery last season was incredible, considering his age. He is the heart of the team, and he attracts fans.

The Bi-Annual Exception was the perfect price for Wallace. He probably should’ve received it in full.

Pruiti: Austin Daye looks more comfortable handling physical defenses

Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook profiled Austin Daye. A sample:

I think Austin Daye’s length will allow him to be successful in the midpost area, along the baseline.  Daye’s arms are so long that he makes it so easy to enter the ball into him in that position.  Daye can then face up, keeping the ball high and either penetrate or hit attempt a step back jumper (something Austin Daye seems pretty effective at doing).  The problem with playing in this area (and while playing with his back to the basket) is that it invites contact.  This is one of the reasons why he didn’t work the midpost area too much last year.

Check out the entire post, which includes video analysis. Pruiti gets this stuff, and it’s always a treat when he writes about the Pistons.

More player-by-player analysis of Detroit Pistons Summer League opener

Patrick Hayes already analyzed the Pistons’ 89-84 Summer League win over the Lakers, but I’m going to provide my two cents, too. For the most part, we agree, but there are a few thing I saw differently.

Terrico White

  • Terrico White had a nice, sharp pass early, but Marquez Haynes played a lot of point guard with White at off-guard.
  • His court vision has room to improve. During one drive, he missed Monroe for an easy drop-off, and Monroe was pretty obviously open.
  • He was extremely rattled when the Lakers showed on pick and rolls.
  • His defensive awareness wasn’t great, but his athleticism helped him make some really nice plays on that end.
  • He had a smooth jumper – both off the dribble and on catch and shoots.

Austin Daye

  • Austin Daye had an unnecessary one-handed rebound early, but rebounded well later.
  • Daye grabbed one rebound, Derrick Caracter hip-checked him. Daye was barely phased. Those extra 10 pounds are paying off.
  • He was soft with help defense on inside drivers.
  • He’s still too slow to play opponents tight on the perimeter, which gives them room to take jumpers. It’s not as big a deal in Las Vegas, but NBA players will take the easy jumper consistently, especially if he’s playing guard. On the plus side of that, with his long arms and unconventional positioning, Daye deflects passes most players aren’t in position to.
  • He’s more comfortable scoring on the move than spotting up. That appeared to be the case during last season, too. Although, he hit two 3-pointers standing still, including one while he was fouled.

DaJuan Summers

  • DaJuan Summers scored 15 points, but he didn’t overly impress me.
  • A couple questionable calls sent him to the line.
  • He scores in a variety of ways, and many teams are looking for specialists in the Summer League who can do one thing well. Maybe Summers is adept at adjusting his game for whoever is guarding him. That doesn’t fly in the NBA, where more players can do many things.
  • His shooting stroke, especially behind the arc, was excellent.

Jonas Jerebko

  • Jonas Jerebko didn’t seem like he cared too much about this game until late. I’m not going to beat him up about it. He was – by far – the most accomplished player in the game.
  • He had weak defense in the post, missed a couple of box outs and was careless with the ball. Again, I’m not really concerned.
  • He looked smarter on offense, using the rim to avoid a defender and get a shot off inside.

Greg Monroe

  • Greg Monroe really looked winded in the fourth quarter. He has a long way to go before he can play starter’s minutes in the NBA.
  • He has nice touch in the post. His turnaround was sweet, and although he missed the one hook shot I saw him take, that looked good, too.
  • His jumpers while facing were his worst-looking shots, but they weren’t that bad.
  • He was flat-footed on defense at times.
  • He rebounded in traffic fairly well.
  • He charged while leading a fastbreak. He moves well, but he still seems best-suited for the half-court.
  • He also set most blatant illegal screen I’ve ever seen.

Others

  • I was pretty impressed with how Marquez Haynes balanced shooting and distributing while playing point guard. He’s still a long shot to make the team, though.
  • Mike Abdenour is awesome.

Terrico White, Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko lead Detroit Pistons in summer league-opening comeback win

If pressed to define last year’s Detroit Pistons in one word, I think ‘soft’ would (rightly) be a popular choice. The Pistons, aside from Ben Wallace, Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko, didn’t really seem to like contact. They were a team full of finesse players. And for three-and-a-half quarters in tonight’s Summer League-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers, it didn’t appear as if much had changed.

Austin Daye was getting abused by Lakers rookie Devin Ebanks. Jerebko was stuck, looking a bit too slow to consistently stay in front of guys on the perimeter and not quite strong enough to keep the Lakers’ bigs from establishing position on the block. DaJuan Summers would make a decent play then disappear for the next three minutes or so.

But, unlike last year, the team toughened up as the game went on, and by the last four minutes, had the appearance of a tough, aggressive defensive unit and made some opportunistic plays at the offensive end, finishing the game on a 14-0 run and erasing what was a double digit lead for from about the mid-second quarter on.

Here’s a quick take on each player’s highs and lows from the game:

Austin Daye

Austin Daye was arguably the best player on the court for either team. He had 22 points, hitting 7-of-12 from the field. My main beef with Daye offensively last year was the fact that there were many times when he just didn’t look for his shot when he was on the floor. Tonight, he had no such issue. He hit from three (and other than maybe Ben Gordon, Daye has the most perfect stroke of anyone on the team), he got to the line and, most important to his game, he used his go-to move extensively. Daye is not a great ball-handler, but he does have a really good first step. He doesn’t handle well enough to use that first-step to get all the way to the rim, but his one-dribble/floater move that he used a few times last season looked like a real weapon in this game. He’s long enough to get that shot off over virtually any SG/SF who will guard him during the season.

Strength is still an issue for him. Ebanks, who had 21, got off early with Daye guarding him. But Daye didn’t lose confidence like he did last season. He used his body as well as he could, and maybe it was the fact that he gets to wear a t-shirt under his jersey in the Summer League, but he really did look like he added a little bit of muscle to his frame since the season ended.

Greg Monroe

While live-chatting during the NBA Draft, a handful, uh, misguided commenters at MLive were pretty insistent on comparing Greg Monroe to David Robinson. I hope those people watch Monroe as soon as possible. They’re both left-handed centers. And that’s it.

Monroe didn’t have a great game against the Lakers, shooting 4-of-13 with 5 rebounds in 32 minutes. He only has average athleticism, and while he did a nice job keeping guys who were trying to back him down from establishing position, he will struggle defensively against athletic bigs capable of putting the ball on the floor.

Offensively, he’s very crafty and very skilled. We all knew about his passing — well, I should say everyone but Ted Kulfan did. (Seriously Ted? You didn’t read this or this or this or this or any of these?).

He’s drawn Brad Miller comparisons for the passing skills, but a dimension he has that Miller doesn’t is his ability to handle the ball. Inexplicably, both because he’s a big man and because he’s not particularly quick in other facets, Monroe appears to be really comfortable handling the ball in the open court. Twice against the Lakers, he grabbed rebounds and immediately turned up-court to initiate the break. Both times, he hit the correct person with passes and the Pistons eventually scored on both possessions.

While his numbers weren’t great, Monroe’s abilities look like he’ll fit quite nicely in the grind-it-out halfcourt offense John Kuester seemed to prefer last season.

Terrico White

I think I’m one of only a few Pistons fans who is excited about the Terrico White pick, and his first Summer League game reinforced my belief that he’ll be a very solid NBA player.

White looked comfortable as a point guard. He didn’t force things, he only had one turnover in 28 minutes and he was 6-of-8 shooting. He showed good elusiveness and, although Dan Feldman pointed out that he didn’t get to the line much for a slasher in college, he shot six free throws against LA, which is decent for a guy who didn’t look for his own shot that often. He also showed that he can be a strong finisher — three times he got inside and drew significant contact, but still manged to get shot attempts up after double clutching. None went in, but they were all legitimate enough attempts to suggest that he’s strong enough to do that consistently.

But why I’m most excited about White is his defensive potential. Rodney Stuckey is already on his way to becoming a good defensive guard who can lock up two positions. White is in that mold, and because he’s even more athletic than Stuckey, he could potentially be an even better defender if he works at it. Twice against the Lakers, White blocked jumpers taken by taller players (one was called a foul, but replays clearly showed White had only ball and made no body contact with the shooter). With the players in front of him, there probably aren’t many minutes for White, especially if Will Bynum comes back. But he absolutely has the ability to become a helpful rotation player.

Jonas Jerebko

It’s hard to evaluate Jonas Jerebko. On the one hand, he has awkward footwork on offense, he’s kind of a tweener defensively (as I mentioned above), he doesn’t have a consistent shot from the perimeter and he’s so aggressive that he pretty regularly makes poor decisions. On the other, Jerebko’s energy, hustle and aggressiveness on defense was the main reason the Pistons locked down late in the game and put the Lakers on their heels.

Jerebko, as we saw last year, was all over the court. It’s going to be important for him to become a better three-point shooter, but he’s still going to fill up the stat sheet by simply beating people to spots, throwing his body around and he just finds the basketball around the offensive glass.

DaJuan Summers

DaJuan Summers was a major disappointment last season. He had a NBA-ready build and athleticism, moreso than Jerebko or Daye, and yet seemed to lack motivation.

Early on against the Lakers, he made a few good plays, particularly finding Monroe on a quick touch pass in the lane for a dunk. But then, as he often did the few times he got minutes in games early last season, he just kind of disappeared. Fortunately, though, it was short-lived. He had a great second half and his strength and quickness on the perimeter helped with the great defensive fourth quarter the Pistons had.

The knock on Summers, dating back to Georgetown, has been a lack of consistent effort. He has great tools — including a jumper that’s more reliable than Jerebko — and could very easily be in a NBA rotation, but it’s unclear if that rotation will  be the Pistons’.

The non-roster guys

Of all the non-roster guys, only guard Marquez Haynes got significant minutes, playing 17. He was very quick, pushing the pace and scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting when he was in the game. He’s a major longshot to make the roster, but he had a couple flashy plays.

The only others to play were A.J. Slaughter and Patrick Christopher, who didn’t do much, and Mac Koshwal, who was pushed around big time by Derrick Caracter when he was in the game.

Of the others, I’m interested to see center Jared Reiner. He was very good in the D-League last year and has NBA experience. If the Pistons don’t find a mid-level worthy big in free agency, Reiner could be a cheap alternative.

Welcome Patrick Hayes, the newest PistonPowered writer

We’re very excited today to announce Patrick Hayes is joining PistonPowered. You might recognize Patrick from his excellent work at Full-Court Press. He will be writing regularly for this site now.

What this means for you

In the long term, better and more complete Pistons coverage (and probably the wrath of Patrick in the comments if your thoughts are nonsensical).

In the short term, Patrick has NBA TV and will be writing about the Pistons’ Summer League game against the Lakers tonight at 8 p.m. (Watch on ESPN 3.)

Patrick will contribute to the PistonPowered Twitter, and you can also follow him.

Again, we’re extremely happy to have Patrick on board.

Allow this post to serve as your open thread for tonight’s game.

Detroit MLE Dreams: Udonis Haslem

Essentials

Position: Power forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 235 pounds

Years pro: Seven

Age: 30

What he brings

Pros

  • Haslem is an excellent defender, even against bigger players. He can hold his own in the post and defend the pick-and-roll. Ben Wallace is the only player on the roster who can do both.
  • Already a quality rebounder, Haslem had his best rebounding season last year.
  • He has a solid mid-range spot-up jumper. He also finds ways to get open inside without the ball, and when his teammates find him with a pass, he usually converts.
  • He appears to be a solid team guy, coming off the bench without complaint last year.

Cons

  • He has probably peaked as a player.
  • For being a quality defender, he doesn’t create many turnovers.
  • The Heat ran him off a fair number of screens last year, possibly to keep him involved in the offense. After catching the pass, Haslem typically shot quickly, often missing, according to Synergy.
  • He can’t put the ball on the floor.

How he fits

Very well.

Haslem doesn’t create his own offense, unlike many of Detroit’s key players. And he’s an excellent defender – again, unlike many of Detroit’s key players. Haslem would help the Pistons with many of their deficiencies without adding skills they already have in abundance – which sounds pretty ideal.

The fit isn’t perfect, though. Haslem plays power forward – a crowded, yet underwhelming position for the Pistons. But Charlie Villanueva and Chris Wilcox might be the only two Pistons whose ideal position is power forward.

Villanueva is certainly more talented than Haslem (and Wilcox might be, too, but that’s less relevant). Having a reliable alternative to Villanueva’s wild swings in production would be great directly – and indirectly, it might help Villanueva focus and become a better player.

It’s not ideal, but Haslem can hold his own at center, too. He’s certainly not another Wilcox, who despite being two inches taller than Haslem, was eaten alive while playing center last year. I’d prefer the Pistons sign someone who’s a little more adept at playing center, but Haslem is hardly a liability there.

In other words

Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops:

Strengths – Solid defender, energy guy who rarely plays out of control or is turnover prone, has a good knack of being at the right place for rebounds, reliable free throw shooter and midrange jumper. Even played center for an entire season which shows how much heart he has. Championship starter in 2006 and has considerable playoff experience.

Weaknesses – Still has a limited offensive game apart from his midrange jumper. Undersized for his position. Shouldn’t be asked to create his own jump shot. Will get a fair amount of shots blocked around the rim because of his size and footwork. Could learn a few fake moves so his offensive game wasn’t so predictable.

Should command about as much as he’s made in his last contract ($6-7 million) and has said he might consider a hometown discount for the Heat.

Signability

With LeBron James and Chris Bosh (and Mike Miller!) joining Dwyane Wade in Miami, Haslem could be the odd man out. For him to stay with the Heat, he’d almost assuredly have to take a minimum contract. A Miami native who played collegiately at Florida, he may take less money to stay with the Heat – but a minimum contract is quite the drop.

I expect to him at least test the market. Returning to Miami for the minimum will always be on the table.

The Pistons have shown interest in Haslem, according to Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News.

Because of his solid, yet low-upside game, Haslem might be the perfect type of free agent for the Pistons – someone worth the full mid-level exception who might not get better offers anywhere else.

I’d be a little concern about paying Haslem $7.6 million when he’s 35, but it’s not outrageous.

Conclusion

Haslem would bring a toughness and energy similar to that of Matt Barnes. And he’d do it at a position of greater need (assuming Tayshaun Prince isn’t traded).

Although Haslem is 30, he’s only spent seven years in the NBA. For a guy who’s played deep into the playoffs, there isn’t that much wear and tear on his body.

Haslem would be a nice, safe signing – and that just might be what Detroit needs.

Previous

Detroit MLE Dreams: Matt Barnes

Essentials

Position: Small forward

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 226 pounds

Years pro: Eight

Age: 30

What he brings

Matt Barnes doesn’t really fit into pros and cons, so I’m eschewing them in favor of two looks at Barnes.

The first comes from the Best of Daily Dime post Jared Wade compiled for Hardwood Paroxysm:

[Comment From Dan: ]
barnes isnt making shots but I like his energy

Kevin Arnovitz:
Dan: That will be on his tombstone.

The second is this video of Barnes matching up with Kobe Bryant*:

 

*What Kobe did 2:15 into that video settled the Kobe-LeBron debate for me. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen on a basketball court. How do you not flinch?! I’ll never doubt Kobe again. It’s the greatest play of our generation. When Kobe enters the Hall of Fame and his highlights are played, that inbounds attempt should be shown on loop. Seriously, I can’t say enough about how amazing that was.

Those two examples paint a more complete picture Barnes better than I ever could.

But I have concerns because of Barnes’ age.

The Barnes that Orlando had last year is relentless. He wore down opponents physically, but his mental edge was probably more important. It’s intimidating to see an opponent hounding you the entire game without any signs of letting up. That’s why I think Barnes at 99 percent is way less valuable than Barnes at 100 percent.

At 30, he might have too many 99-percent nights.

How he fits

In every tangible way, Barnes is a poor fit.

He plays a position where the Pistons have a reliable veteran (Tayshaun Prince, who doesn’t appear to be traded as quickly as many would like) and three youngsters (Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye and DaJuan Summers) who can play.

Barnes, 30, is also a little old for a rebuilding team.

But he’s tough as nails.

Barnes drew criticism for his play in that Lakers game, because he acted like he’d never been there before – and for the Magic, maybe that made sense.

But these Pistons haven’t been there before. They need to act like they have something to prove. Games against the league’s top teams will be proving grounds next season. Barnes won’t let the Pistons look lifeless in those games, as they did last year.

Also, as you’ll read about in the next section, Barnes’ cutting ability would be a great complement to Greg Monroe’s passing skills. The Princeton offense is based on cutting, and Barnes could help ease Monroe’s transition to the NBA.

In other words

Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball evaluated Barnes after season:

And he did things, like cutting to the basket when Howard would be looking to pass the basketball out of the post in 4-out/1-in offensive sets, that helped the Magic. But Barnes’ main weakness, was the fact that he wasn’t, and isn’t, a great spot-up shooter.

At times, it seemed like Barnes was overrated on defense. This doesn’t mean that Barnes was a bad defender, on the contrary, but sometimes everyone would make note of his scuffles with Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, and other great scorers during the regular season and ignore some of his weakness defensively.

For example, Barnes’ poor pick and roll defense sticks out like a sore thumb.

Barnes was a perfect sidekick with the starters and his toughness, more than anything else, was a welcomed addition to a team that is criticized many times for being finesse and soft … except against the Celtics apparently. In any case, there are weaknesses to Barnes’ skill-set that can’t be ignored.

I highly recommend you read Rivera’s post for a complete picture of Barnes.

Signability

Barnes probably isn’t worth the full mid-level exception. In this environment, though, that’s what I suspect it would take the Pistons to get him.

The Magic are interested in bringing him back, but they don’t have his Bird rights. So, like Detroit, they have the mid-level exception at their disposal.

Maybe Detroit can negotiate a two- or three-year contract. But it only takes one team to offer more years. I suspect someone will. Maybe it will be the Pistons.

Conclusion

This team needs to get tougher. Maybe last year’s disappointments will fuel a more competitive spirit. But if they won’t, extra steps need to be taken.

Before signing Barnes, Joe Dumars really needs to take the pulse of this team. Do they need a Matt Barnes (because at his cost, Detroit shouldn’t sign him otherwise)?

I’d like to believe the answer is no. But I’m not sure that’s the case.

Previous

Detroit Pistons won’t sign Jermaine O’Neal, but if you’re interested in what they’re missing…

Jermaine O’Neal will sign with the Celtics, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops provided this write-up for a Detroit MLE Dreams post that will never see the light of day:

Strengths – Was much better this past season than people gave him credit for after sustaining an injury near the end of the regular season and apparently not ready to come back from it as he was horrible in the Celtics series. Worked hard last summer and regained enough jump off his knees to get his jumper back. Wasn’t afraid to take charges and buy into the Heat defensive system. Was very effective as the first offensive option with the second unit while Dwyane Wade rested. Good passing skills for a big man.

Weaknesses – How much more does he left and how many years do you want to lock him down given his injury history. Can be foul prone against the younger guys. Still gets hot-headed at times. Frequently runs out of gas in the fourth quarter and will come up short on his shots. Sometimes thinks he can still do the same things on offense that he could do in his prime.

Last year’s highest paid player in the NBA alongside Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant should now settle with getting midlevel exception type of money. He may have a hard time convincing a GM after that Celtics series as to how much he has left in the tank but eventually should get a decent contract considering how many teams have money to spend and you can’t teach size.

Detroit Pistons can offer free agents up to $33,437,000 with MLE

The NBA released its salary-cap figures for the 2010-11 season:

  • Mid-level exception: $5,765,000
  • Salary cap: $58,044,000
  • Luxury tax: $70,307,000

The mid-level exception came out $33,000 less than I projected a month ago. That means Detroit can offer a free agent up to $33,437,000 for a five-year contract.

A luxury tax that high should give Detroit plenty of room to use the full MLE and re-sign Will Bynum and Ben Wallace.

The salary cap is pretty irrelevant for the Pistons, because they will still be above it.

Chris Iott: Ben Wallace will return to Detroit Pistons next season

Detroit Pistons beat writer Chris Iott for MLive.com tweeted tonight Ben Wallace will return next season:

@PistonPowered That rumor is not worth much. Ben Wallace will be back next season. I promise.

Iott’s tweet came in response to my linking of this post, which said a friend of a former babysitter to Ben Wallace’s family heard Wallace will retire.

Iott responded to my inquiry whether he meant Wallace will return to the NBA or the Pistons:

@PistonPowered Back with the Pistons.

Update: Iott is backtracking slightly:

@PistonPowered I guess I shouldn’t "promise" he will be back. But I would be willing to bet your life savings.

This probably means Wallace will be back, but it’s not quite the promise Iott made earlier in the night. I’d be a lot more confident if he was willing to bet his own life savings instead of mine. Not really sure how much Iott would regret losing my money.