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Biggest trade deadline disappointment? The glory of the 10-day contract will never materialize

I’ve often pointed out my frustrations with readers who treat this downspell in Pistons basketball as if it’s the worst possible time in the history of the franchise. In reality, it’s not even the franchise’s low point in the last 20 years. The 1990s Pistons were by far more frustrating to watch, made unconsionable decisions routinely (exhibit A: teal unis) and, unlike this version of the Pistons, they actually had a legit superstar, possibly the nicest, most unselfish superstar in the league, who they failed year after year to put competent complimentary pieces around (with apologies to Otis Thorpe, I guess). The Palace had no energy, the few teams Hill dragged that team into the playoffs the Pistons were quickly dispatched by equally boring Atlanta and Miami teams and the culmination was Hill finally became fed up and left as a free agent, but not before his final games as a Piston nearly ruined his career after he gutted it out in unwinnable playoff games on a mangled ankle.

There were bleak times, poor seasons, year after year excuses, a parade of coaches and little hope in that era. But one of my favorite elements of some of those lousy seasons in the 1990s was the 10 Day Contract. Every year, when the Pistons finally came to grips with the fact that they were not making the playoffs, we’d get a couple unknown players in late in the season. Usually, they were terrible (Ivano Newbill). But a couple of times (Michael Curry, Mikki Moore), the Pistons actually found guys who filled a role or brought some toughness or played hard.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting Joe Dumars to find any takers for Rip Hamilton. And even if some scoff at the notion, Tayshaun Prince may very well fetch more in a sign and trade than getting the Dallas first round pick, which would’ve been late first round in a weak draft. Teams likely to be interested in Prince this summer will be contenders. Most of those teams will be at the cap or over it, thus probably not able to offer Prince the full salary he might be looking for, so a sign and trade for him is a viable option that could in the end bring back more than the marginal prospect they would’ve picked in the first round.

But I was hoping for something. I’ve long ago given up on buying into the team’s “we’re a playoff contender” stance. What I wanted was for the Pistons to clear a roster spot. Move an end-of-bench or marginal player for a pick. Do a minor two-for-one trade. Basically, anything to bring back the magic of the 10 Day Contract. And I even had a few candidates, currently in the D-League, who would be worth taking a look at:

  • Sean Williams: Just a few years ago, Williams was a first round draft pick by New Jersey. And if he didn’t have some off-court problems in college, he probably would’ve been picked even earlier than he was. Guys who are 6-foot-10 with his athleticism are simply rare. His issues reportedly didn’t go away in the NBA and he quickly flamed out with the Nets without making much of an impact. Now, he’s averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game for the Texas Legends and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. Maybe Williams will never put things together, but talent-wise, he’s a NBA player and he just happens to fill two needs — rebounding and shot blocking — that the Pistons are incredibly deficient in.
  • DeShawn Sims: Throwing a bone to the University of Michigan-obsesses overlord of this site who firmly believes Sims will be a “great” NBA player, Sims is actually having a good season in the D League. He’s a little slight by NBA power forward standards listed at a generous 6-foot-8 and he doesn’t have otherwordly athleticism, but Sims scores in the paint and has range out to the 3-point line. He’s averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds per game for Maine while shooting 49 percent, not bad for a guy who is more comfortable shooting jumpers and facing up than posting up.
  • Jeff Adrien: This is a moot point since Adrien was just re-signed by Golden State, but had the Pistons moved sooner, they would’ve had a crack at an undersized yet brusing power forward who was the top rebounder in the D-League this season at 11.4 per game (nearly 17 per-48 minutes). Adrien, 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, also averaged nearly 20 points per game in the D-League, using his strength and athleticism to score in the paint against bigger defenders. He’s the type of blue collar player Detroit fans have always loved.
  • Courtney Sims: Another Michigan man, this is the taller of the two Sims at 6-foot-11. He’s had a few brief NBA looks in his career, but never stuck. He’s a D-League veteran now, been an All-Star in the league and averages 18 points and 9 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent in 98 career D-League games.
  • Scottie Reynolds: Let’s throw a point guard in just for the heck of it. Reynolds, you may remember, was a star at Villanova who found himself in the D-League this year where’ he’s been solid with Springfield where he’s averaging 14 points, 6 assists and 2 turnovers per game. He also shoots 46 percent. Is he the purest of point guards? Probably not, but when has that ever stopped the Pistons?

Unfortunately, it’s not to be. None of the above players would’ve altered the Pistons’ fortunes. In fact, it’s highly likely they wouldn’t even earn a second 10-day contrac based on the odds of cracking a NBA rotation midseason. But at best, the Pistons might have found a cheap player who could help fill a role next season, and with the team’s payroll having little flexibility, the chances to find cheap players to fill holes can never be scoffed at.

Instead, hopefully the Pistons give extended looks to DaJuan Summers and Terrico White when he’s healthy. Summers, very likely, has no future in Detroit. He’s never been given a reasonable number of minutes to prove himself, but he’s also been very unproductive in the minutes he does play. Still though, as Mike Payne pointed out in the comments, if Summers can play a little bit, the Pistons might be able to bring him back as a cheap rotation player next year since they’re likely to lose Prince in free agency.

As for White, his athleticism makes him intriguing and he had good moments in the Summer League. Tracy McGrady and Rodney Stuckey are free agents, so it’s possible the Pistons could have some holes at point guard next season. Hopefully the team is committed to seeing if White can give solid minutes at that spot.

9 Comments

  • Feb 25, 201112:54 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    1) that’s not the biggest disappointment. that’s a fringe concern. the biggest disappointment is that the team still hasn’t changed when it’s desperately needed it, repeatedly acknowledged that need, and been unable/unwilling to make changes. another missed opportunity, and certainly the biggest opportunity for a brighter outlook. the last few times the team missed chances to fix the roster problems, the only real consequence of waiting to pull the trigger was the waiting; none of our players were going anywhere, and it seemed like we wanted to establish value for guys like tayshaun whose seasons were killed by injury. this time around, we established values for assets like tracy and tayshaun but passed on deals that would have improved our fortunes, but we lose them in the offseason for nothing because the value offered wasn’t “enough.” NEWS FLASH, joe: nobody’s going to give you fair value for anything when you’re obviously desperate.
     
    2) going back to your bizarre tayshaun trade/keep calculus problem, three things: (a) can you please explain to me what we can reasonably expect to receive in a sign-and-trade? my best guess is “next to nothing,” and i can’t imagine why tayshaun is going to receive an offer, go to presumably the highest bidder, then that bidder is going to give us a nice building block for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. please explain it, because keeping tayshaun looks like an objective mistake; (b) even if i was to take your word for that 2 is better than 2.2 nonsense, and i don’t because it’s nonsense, if “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” surely 2 in the hand is worth more than 2.2 in the bush. we could have gotten a concrete return for the last remaining asset of our heyday, and we didn’t; (c) someone pointed out, correctly, that we would have had similar sign-and-trade rights with butler, who is a comparable player to tayshaun and would have still netted us a theoretical 2.1 according to your awful math problem analogy. and 4.1 > 2.2 no matter how you slice it.
     
    3) do you honestly expect the pistons to give “extended looks” at terrico and dajuan? what is it about their recent decisions that leads you to believe there’s even a CHANCE that ever happens?? they’re going to play the veterans who won’t be here next year major minutes at the expense of jump-starting the chemistry that’s been so elusive already, and they’ll try to win as many games as humanly possible. they’ve made up their minds about dajuan, and terrico’s going to be inactive next season and follow in dajaun’s footsteps. they’ll both go on to be good role players for other teams, while we pay other guys ten times more to do less. does there ever come a point when you can take off the rose colored glasses and recognize an organization’s patterns?
     
    4) i’ll probably be around through the weekend, mostly so i can get a straight answer on my first question. i just don’t understand how anyone could think keeping tayshaun made any sense on any level.

    • Feb 25, 20111:12 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      1). Shutup

      2). I didn’t write the calculation you are referring to.

      3). Summers – yes, if Prince is injured. White – no, but he is under contract anyway for next year so it’s not as pressing and he’ll get a lot of playing time in Fort Wayne if nothing else.

      4). Keeping him didn’t make sense. Trading him in the Dallas deal didn’t make sense. What made the most sense is trading him for a player under contract that the other team wanted to shed. Dumars was not in a position to do that. Second option: trade him for an expiring and a late pick. Dumars was in a position to do that. But what’s the value? A crappy late first in an even crappier draft? Sure, maybe you find an OK player. There’s an even longer history of NBA Drafts that suggests you won’t though. So you can trade him for next to nothing, or you can risk that he’ll sign somewhere for nothing. But possibly, he’ll find a team that wants him and can’t afford him but is willing to do a sign and trade. At worst, Pistons get a trade exception or something. At a minimum, maybe they get a future pick that they could’ve got from Dallas, except over the summer getting it might mean they get a late first in a better draft next year. And maybe the team has a player that would be useful to Detroit that they’d throw in.

      I don’t get your demand for answers. There are reasons a trade to Dallas made sense and didn’t make sense. But to act like the 29th or 30th pick in the draft was some windfall the Pistons clearly missed out on is ridiculous even by your standards.

      • Feb 25, 20111:54 pm
        by Laser

        Reply

        1) i’ll take this response as you being cute.
         
        2) i’m not the first to miss who wrote a particular blog; i’m WELL aware feldman was the one who concocted that absurd math problem. also, “you” could mean PistonPowered. in this case, it did!
         
        3) summers is a dead duck. he’ll see no minutes here.
         
        4) i would have traded these guys a LONG time ago. the rockets asked about rip when they ended up trading for kevin martin, plenty people have wanted tayshaun for a while. joe has an incredible knack for overvaluing (rip, tayshaun, max with that extension, amir early on, etc.) OR undervaluing (chauncey, afflalo, amir at the end, etc.) his players, never having a reasonable idea what someone is worth, constantly acting on his misperceptions and costing this team dearly. at a minimum, tayshaun would have gotten us ONE concrete asset to show for our decade of glory. because there’s nothing else left but memories. and i don’t understand why we couldn’t have gotten these kinds of things (future pick, trade exception, an unwanted player on a long term contract) this summer if butler was our expiring contract rather than tayshaun.

      • Feb 25, 20114:06 pm
        by Tim

        Reply

        @Hayes, in response to the number 4 part of your response, you repeat this general sentiment that keeping Tay was worth it because he has a chance of turning into value as a sign-and-trade. But that completely ignores the fact that the exact some advantage lies in having Butler. They are players of comparable value. Dallas’ pick would not be an amazing prize. But it would be an asset, and it would cost nothing from the Pistons perspective. It just switches which player we have next summer to try and get something with a sign and trade. The only loss is Prince’s play for the rest of this season, which has no value to Detroit. Although Dumars probably does value it and is probably still thinking there is a shot of making the playoffs. Not taking that deal isn’t going to hurt Detroit very much. But it is frustrating because it is just so stupid. There was an opportunity to get something for nothing and he didn’t take it (And he could have saved a bit of money too).
        That move was like watching the Grizzlies offer Gay a max contract over the summer. It wasn’t the worst contract handed out but it was in at least one sense the stupidest because there was a no-lose way to get him cheaper. They just had to sit tight and wait to see if anyone offered him a deal. If no one did after a while, his  value goes down slightly. If someone does, it is at most a max contract which they simply would have to match and it still would have been a less rich deal than the one they gave him. Not doing this Prince deal was just like that. No disaster but just one more painfully stupid decision on top of a recent pile of them.

        • Feb 25, 20114:43 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Tim, I just don’t agree that they had to take that trade.

          I mean, I would’ve been fine with the decision if they did it. I’m also fine that they didn’t.

          You could probably make the case that getting Prince the hell away from young players wouldn’t be a bad thing, and I certainly wouldn’t argue after today’s events. But like him or not, he’s still going to have value to contenders, moreso than Butler would because Butler is a less efficient player who is coming off an injury that cost him an entire season. He also was pretty bad overall during his Dallas career and had injury issues in Washington. If you’re trying to convince me they’re pretty much equal value-wise, I’m not buying it.

          Prince has infinitely more value to a contending team where he can be a fourth or fifth option rather than a mediocre or bad one, as we’ve seen the last couple seasons. Contending teams most likely won’t have the cap room to sign him outright. He’s still only 29 years old and already has a ring, so to think he’s going to take a smaller deal to ring chase is improbable. My guess is a team will want him and be amenable to a sign and trade where, at minimum, they’ll offer a deal similar to the one Dallas offered.

          • Feb 25, 20115:33 pm
            by Tim

            Fair enough. If you consider Prince a better player than Butler, that more or less nullifies my point. It was contingent on my belief that those two players are exceedingly close to equal.

  • Feb 25, 20111:44 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    shoot, i forgot one more:
     
    5) this may not be the franchise’s darkest hour, but not when you look at the team’s assets when this DEbuilding project started. has any franchise fallen so far so fast, squandering an embarrassment of riches like the pistons have?? seven years ago they were world champions, five years ago they had four all-stars, they contended for most of the decade and had, what, a dozen all-star appearances in total. and all we have to show for this are memories. not a single one of these assets was rolled over. not one. ben and rasheed walked for nothing, and tayshaun’s about to follow in their footsteps. and those are the lucky ones. chauncey and dyess got turned swiftly into liabilities in the forms of gordon and charlie. rip is unmovable and disgruntled and redundant, hanging over our collective head like the sword of Damocles for two more years. and all of this happened under one man’s watch.

    • Feb 25, 20115:07 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Laser,

      2005-06 Heat: NBA champions

      2007-08 Heat: 15-67

       

      1997-2006 Pacers: playoffs every year, four conference-finals appearances, one Finals appearance

      2006-11 Pacers: no winning seasons

       

      2005-10 Cavaliers: 54.4 wins per season, won at least one playoff series each year, one conference-finals appearance, one Finals appearance

      2010-11 Cavaliers: 10-47

       

      2001-07 Nets: won playoff series in five-of-six years, reached Finals twice

      2007-11 Nets: 97-206

       

      There are plenty of other examples. You have no perspective.

  • Feb 25, 20114:46 pm
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Laser,

    1. You’re smart enough to tell that wasn’t the biggest disappointment. It’s so far from it Patrick figured nobody could make the mistake of reading his headline literally.

    2. I think there was a decent chance the Pistons would have had to buy out Butler as part of the trade. The Mavericks like what he brings to their locker room, and he’s been working to be ready for the playoffs, even if there’s only a slight chance.

    3. The 2.2 number accounts for the odds of catching the birds in the bush. If you catch them, they’re worth more than 2.2.

    4. Nobody actually believes you’re leaving. More importantly, nobody cares. You’re not convincing anyone with some grand crusade.

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