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Archive → October, 2010

David Stern hopes Detroit Pistons are sold in November

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop forwarded me this update from David Stern’s Board of Governor’s meeting:

We got an update on the progress in Detroit, which will hopefully move its way along. It’s not as fast a track as Golden State, but we’re looking for something definitive to happen in the month of November.

Abbott later asked, What is special about the month of November in Detroit?

Only that there’s an exclusive negotiating period being undertaken. My guess is that it’s going to expire in about 10 days. There’s a lot of work going on. I would think that gets to be about November 1. Then with the to and fro, by the end of November, I would hope there would be a formal agreement that would mature. That’s the only thing that’s special. I know the calendar. There seem to be an interested potential buyer, an interested seller.

They’re doing lots of due diligence, lots of interviews, examination of documents. In a normal course, it sounds like the 45 days or so, 40 days, is a good time to think that there would be a successful agreement.

I hope the Pistons are sold by the trade deadline. I don’t know how limited Joe Dumars is by the ownership situation, but once the team is sold, I think it’s good bet he’ll have more freedom to make moves.

Detroit Pistons try to give out 50 free lower bowl season tickets, eleven people show up

The Pistons recently created the Power Plant, a 50-person group of the most energetic fans who would, ideally, fire up The Palace for every game. The idea was modeled after Milwaukee’s Squad 6 and Houston’s Red Rowdies,* both big success.

The Power Plant? Not so much. A whopping eleven people tried out, according to Neal Rubin of The Detroit News.

*Not the Izzone as the writer, who surprisingly didn’t attend Michigan State, mentioned twice.

In an era of downs for the Pistons, I think this is a new low.

But they’re still optimistic and haven’t given up on this plan:

They’ll look for reinforcements anyway, though, with on-the-spot auditions at Friday’s 7:30 p.m. exhibition game against Memphis.

That seems like a fine idea – assuming 39 people show up to that game.

The Big Question: Jonas Jerebko

With a cloud uncertainty thunder-storming, snowing and hailing on the Detroit Pistons, we wanted our Pistons preview series to capture that. So for each Piston, Patrick Hayes and I will identify and explain what we each see as the biggest question surrounding him entering the season.

DF: Will the Pistons reap the rewards this season of Jerebko’s summer?

As I wrote before, I was a little troubled Jonas Jerebko chose to focus on ball-handling and his mid-range game this summer. The Pistons needed him most at power forward, and those aren’t skills he will use a ton at that position.

A few commenter made a good point: regardless of this season, Jerebko’s long-term outlook is still at small forward. If he re-signs with the Pistons, they could still benefit from his work this summer once the roster is straightened out.

One way or the other, I hope this summer was productive for Jerebko and the Pistons.

PH: Will he try and rush back from injury?

The Jonas Jerebko we all know and love is competitive, tough and one of the hardest working players on the team. Those are all great qualities on the court, but they are all also potential detriments to a player rehabbing a serious injury. Players trying to come back too early from tough injuries are a fairly common occurrence in the league, and few do it successfully without some setbacks.

Jerebko’s game is predicated on athleticism and activity, so putting too much pressure on his Achilles too early could have a serious impact on his skill set. As much as I’d love to see Jerebko on the court again, I hope the Pistons are really careful with his rehab and that he’s 100 percent healthy before he starts playing again.

Detroit Pistons wave Ike Diogu and Vernon Hamilton

From a team release:

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has requested waivers on guard Vernon Hamilton and forward Ike Diogu.

Hamilton appeared in five games, averaging 0.6 assists and 0.8 rebounds in 3.6 minutes per game. Diogu appeared in three games, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 5.3 minutes per game.

No surprise here. They were longshots to make the team when they were invited to training camp, and neither played much in the preseason.

The Pistons’ roster is down to 15 players, so no more roster moves need to be made.

Austin Daye appears likely to start Detroit Pistons’ season opener

Last Thursday, Pistons coach John Kuester addressed some of his preseason lineups. Chris Iott of MLive:

How long will the experiment last?

"Through the weekend," he said.

The weekend has come and gone, and Austin Daye is still starting. He started the Pistons’ win over the Wizards last night and had 10 points and four rebounds in 29 minutes.

I think this is Daye’s job to lose. And with only one more game before the preseason opener, he probably doesn’t have time to relinquish it.

Stuckey probably a starter, too, but maybe less likely

Daye’s chief competition, Charlie Villanueva and Greg Monroe, also played against the Wizards, so that makes Daye’s start pretty meaningful.

We didn’t learn quite as much about Stuckey’s starting prospects, because Will Bynum sat out with a sore right hamstring. With 34 points on 18 shots and seven assists, Stuckey certainly played well enough to start.

But that doesn’t mean everything. Iott on last night’s pregame conversation with Kuester:

Kuester downplayed the importance of starting, then brought up — without prompting — how well point guard Rodney Stuckey played Saturday night. Stuckey came off the bench for 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in a 97-94 loss to the Bobcats.

“Starting the game is not always finishing the game and playing quality minutes,” Kuester said. “We saw something in the Charlotte game with Stuckey coming off the bench. He had a wonderful game.”

I still think Stuckey starts. He wants to be a leader, and that’s tougher to do coming off the bench. Starting carries prestige and respect.

For what it’s worth, Stuckey said the right things to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

"If I’ve got to come off the bench, I’ll come off the bench," Stuckey said after his best game of the exhibition season.

"I ain’t tripping; whatever it takes to make this team win. If they need me to come off the bench, I’ll do it."

I think there’s about an 85 percent chance Stuckey starts the opener. But what a crazy world where it’s more likely – let’s say 90 percent – Daye is a starter.

Join us on ESPN for a chat about the Pistons at 1 p.m.

Daily Dime Live Central Division Preview

I hope Magic Johnson doesn’t join Mike Ilitch in buying the Pistons

Magic Johnson - 1979

(Lane Stewart/SI)

I’m scared of Magic Johnson.

Look at him. He’s so happy, so relaxed, so smooth. And that smile – oh, that smile.

A few years ago, I stopped at Arby’s on the way to a Michigan basketball game at Penn State. I wanted chicken strips, but they didn’t carry those anymore. So, I ordered Popcorn Chicken Shakers – a rancid replacement for chicken strips. (At the time, I didn’t know they were rancid.) A few miles after finishing my meal, I did the Technicolor yawn* onto the side of I-80. I haven’t been back to Arby’s since.

But if Magic wanted me to go to Arby’s with him? Of course, I would. I’d bat my eyes at him and extend my left leg so far toward him that the signal is no longer subtle.

*Is this phrase common? It’s listed on thesaurus.com, but I’d never heard of it prior to writing this. I’m glad I discovered it, though. Absolutely fantastic.

If you read a lot of basketball blogs, you may recognize my concerns. Prophetically, Mark Titus analyzed the Magic of Magic just a couple days ago:

In an HBO documentary that aired earlier this year, Magic explained that it wasn’t actually Earvin Johnson who routinely cheated on his wife and got HIV. It was “Magic.” Magic was the leader of the Lakers who threw behind the back passes, oozed all sorts of charisma and personality in interviews, and put his tallywhacker where it didn’t belong. Earvin was a shy kid from Michigan who was humble, respectful, and could apparently grow a kickass afro. He went on to say something like deep down he was Earvin, but fame and money had turned him into Magic. Basically, he was a victim of his own success. Poor guy.

The crazy thing about Magic’s interview was that I actually ended up feeling bad for him, even though everything he said suggested that I should have felt the exact opposite. The reason for this is because Magic is quite possibly the most likable athlete to ever live, which is why guys like me were listening to what he said and were thinking, “Wow, I never thought of it like that. Magic didn’t want to have sex with all these women, but since he was rich and famous, he had no choice.” I never once questioned his logic, because he’s Magic Johnson, and Magic Johnson could tell me that he murdered my family and destroyed every copy of FIFA ever made, and as long as he smiled and let out that hearty laugh of his, I’d probably shake his hand and tell him not to worry about it.

Magic makes a move

If you haven’t heard, Magic Johnson sold his share of the Lakers yesterday. Combined with his August comments about theoretically being interested in owning the Pistons, it’s not hard to connect the dots.

Even his agent’s denial to ESPNLosAngeles.com – “Johnson’s decision to sell his stake Monday was not immediately connected to any other moves” – doesn’t prevent me from thinking there’s something to see here. “Not immediately connected” could very well be just a nice way of preserving Magic’s reputation in Los Angeles.

I have plenty of concerns, though. With all his other business interested, would Magic be properly committed to the Pistons? What does he want with the Pistons that he didn’t have with the Lakers? What would happen to Joe Dumars?

But, by far, my No. 1 concern is bringing Magic on board drastically increases Ilitch’s odds of receiving public funding for a new downtown arena, which he has made no secret about wanting.

Persuasive combo

People around here like Mike Ilitch. He’s done a great job with the Red Wings, and he’s been good with the Tigers lately. He’s invested in the area, and I think people appreciate that.

Detroit will probably build him a new arena if he buys the Pistons.

Add Magic to the mix, and there will be no stopping them. That “probably” becomes “almost definitely.”

Such an arrangement would probably be good business for Ilitch and Magic. It’s bad business for Detroit.

Detroit can’t afford to build a new arena right now.

Bilking taxpayers

I’d guess close to 100 percent of the people reading this blog have been to a Pistons game or would go to one in the new arena at some point. It’s easy for us to overrate the impact of the Pistons.

The Pistons had a combined attendance of 768,826 last season.

Metro Detroit has a population of 4,403,437. Let’s assume nobody went to a Pistons more than once, and everyone in attendance was from Metro Detroit – both obviously ludicrous assumptions, but they’ll skew the numbers away from my favor.

With those assumptions, more than 82 percent of Metro Detroiters didn’t go to a Pistons game last year. The real number is much higher.

I suspect Detroit mayor and former Piston Dave Bing is like us. I suspect he sees the Pistons as a way to make Detroit more prestigious.

With Magic in the fold, I suspect that will be a much easier argument to make.

Most certainly not the right time

When The Palace becomes obsolete in 15 years, moving downtown will make more sense. I still probably won’t support a publicly funded stadium then, but it will make a little more reasonable.

It’s unconscionable right now, but I don’t think an 81-year-old Ilitch has much interest in waiting that long.

If he gets Magic to help him, I doubt he’ll have to.

Magic Johnson sells Lakers share – to join Ilitch group in buying Pistons?

Magic Johnson has sold his share of the Los Angeles Lakers. Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk says what everyone around here thought immediately when hearing this news:

Magic Johnson wants a larger role in team ownership and talked about that back in August. He wants more of a Michael Jordan role in Charlotte, as one of or the main face of franchise ownership. That was never going to happen with the Lakers, where the Buss family has no plans to sell. Magic’s name came up on the periphery of the sales of the Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons.

But you cannot own parts of two NBA franchises, so Magic had to get out of the Lakers before he could be serious elsewhere.

NBA Rookie of the Year: Why not Greg Monroe?

If Greg Monroe needs some motivation, maybe this will do it. His peers in the NBA rookie class don’t think Monroe has any shot at the Rookie of the Year award.

With guys like John Wall, Blake Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins getting handed big roles with their respective teams right off the bat and the chance to put up numbers, it’s very likely one of those three will take home the reward. But Monroe didn’t garner a single vote in the NBA’s annual poll of its rookie class. And check out some of the guys who did receive votes: late first round picks who may not play a ton like Eric Bledsoe and Jordan Crawford, a player who most feel Utah reached for in the lottery in Gordon Hayward and a guy who not only is stuck behind Steph Curry in Golden State, but wasn’t even drafted in Jeremy Lin.

Monroe, the seventh pick in the draft, a player who could get significant minutes in a thin frontcourt that got even thinner with Jonas Jerebko out for the season, has no chance at NBA Rookie of the Year? Really NBA rookies?

I realize that Monroe is up against long odds. But there are also some things working in his favor. First, check out his preseason numbers through six games:

  • 9.0 points
  • 42 percent shooting
  • 5.2 rebounds
  • 2.3 assists
  • 1.5 steals
  • 2.5 turnovers

Monroe is putting up those numbers in about 24ish minutes per game. They aren’t spectacular, but he does a good job of putting up stats in several categories, something not all big men are able to do. If he closes the preseason strong and earns let’s say 28 minutes or so per game during the regular season, which is feasible considering Chris Wilcox is no guarantee to get minutes, Ben Wallace is likely to see a lightened workload (at least initially) and Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva are both inconsistent, those numbers should climb a bit.

His shooting percentage, which has been really bad this preseason, is likely to go up. Even with his poor shooting and high number of turnovers this preseason, his two most notable deficiencies, Monroe has done a decent job filling up the stat sheet, which is the most important consideration in Rookie of the Year voting (just ask Tyreke Evans). If he’s able to get his numbers in the 13ish points/7ish rebounds/4ish assists range, shoot above 45 percent and continue to get over a steal a game, Monroe could certainly contend for the award.

Wall, Cousins and Griffin have all looked phenomenal this preseason. But Griffin lost his season to injury last year and Cousins has already been injured this preseason. Plenty can get in the way of talented guys winning the award. Monroe, based on his potential playing time and production so far, has a fair shot at being the first Piston to contend for the award since Grant Hill shared it with Jason Kidd in 1995.

Tracy McGrady sitting out the rest of the preseason bothers me

Tracy McGrady will likely miss the rest of the preseason. So, of course, Keith Langlois penned an article for a pistons.com titled, “T-Mac: ‘It Feels Good’.”

The propaganda machine is in full force. Yes, the story about why McGrady can’t play is actually called “T-Mac: ‘It Feels Good’.” I understand the Pistons want to spin news to be as positive as possible, but can’t they use even a little subtlety?

McGrady spent a lot of time at media day talking about how good he felt. He said he was back in shape. He said, without question, he was the healthiest he’s been in the last three years. He even joked that it’s like he’s 29, not his real age of 31, because he hadn’t played the last two seasons.

A couple weeks later, the tune out of Auburn Hills has changed. And it’s not just pistons.com. The rest of the media has eagerly picked up the company line.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

T-Mac has hardly played in two seasons. Would be unrealistic to think he would be completely ready to go. #Pistons

Now that McGrady playing hasn’t worked, it was the plan all along? Really?

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

The bigger picture, he believes, is not proving he can play in exhibitions. Which is why Pistons strength-and-conditioning coach Arnie Kander didn’t take him through the gamut over the summer.

It seems the two are taking a more gradual approach.

McGrady didn’t agree to terms with the with the Pistons until Aug. 10. Even if he began working with Kander immediately, it’s disingenuous to say Kander had a significant impact on McGrady’s summer workout regimen.

But it obviously benefits the Pistons to plant that seed. Fans trust Kander. If he said McGrady needed to take it easy this summer, well, McGrady needed to take it easy this summer.

Is it the knee?

Maybe there’s more than meets the eye here. Maybe McGrady’s knee is actually the problem. If you want to make that case, this McGrady quote, via Goodwill, at the beginning of training camp would be Exhibit A:

"Can’t put the knee aside, that’s the major issue," he said. "If I didn’t have any problems with my knee, I would be myself."

I don’t think the Pistons would rush to admit McGrady’s knee still bothers him. I think that would embarrass them, especially given how the Bulls very publicly passed on McGrady after a workout:

According to two people who witnessed the workout, McGrady shot the ball well but didn’t move with much fluidity or exhibit superior conditioning.

Rare time this matters

Most of the time, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It’s no secret: the NBA regular season is pretty meaningless relative to other sports. The preseason is even more meaningless. Players use training camp, the preseason and even the regular season to get into shape all the time.

But McGrady is a fringe rotation player on this team. Coming to camp out of shape is a big deal, especially in a preseason where the team is preaching competition and accountability.

In theory, the Pistons shouldn’t give McGrady special treatment. In practicality, with Austin Daye playing so well, they don’t need to. They owe us a better explanation than they’ve given.

Maybe McGrady couldn’t get into proper shape because his knee was bothering him prior to camp. I think that would be a reasonable excuse for him sitting out. But that probably opens another can of worms about why they signed him.

Maybe, after so much time away from the game, McGrady underestimated the conditioning necessary to be ready for the season. I don’t think that would be a reasonable excuse for McGrady sitting out.

Either way, the Pistons’ message can’t be: McGrady is fine, he just can’t play basketball. That’s not reasonable.

Someone has some explaining to do.