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The Big Answer: Chris Wilcox

Patrick and I are going to revisit our The Big Question series, where we each identified what we saw as the key  question facing each Piston entering the season. We’re skipping Vernon Hamilton and Ike Diogu, neither of whom lasted with the team past the preseason. So, let’s start with Chris Wilcox.

DF then: Is he a PINO?

PINO is Piston In Name Only. He doesn’t play much. His teammates and coaches don’t talk about him. Does he practice with the team? Could 80 percent of his teammates pick him out of a crowd? Does he have any emotional attachment to the franchise, and vice-versa.

OK, I wrote the above paragraph before Vincent Goodwill’s glowing report. But with news that Wilcox’s hamstring will keep him out of tonight’s preseason opener against the Miami Heat, I still think there’s a solid chance this is the last meaningful news you hear about Wilcox as a Piston.

DF now: No – at least for now

Chris Wilcox had his best season since he played for the Sonics. He emerged as a good offensive rebounder, a capable finisher, a better-than-average-on-this-team defender and even a solid passer.

Wilcox led Detroit in starts at power forward and started more games at the position than the Pistons’ first two options this season – Austin Daye and Jason Maxiell – combined. On the court, he was definitely a key contributor.

But I’m not sure which clique he fit into. We learned a good deal about which players meshed with which other players during the Philadelphia boycott, but Wilcox supposedly overslept for the whole thing. Would he have sided with the protesting veterans or the six practicers? We’ll probably never know where his allegiance would have lied.

So, in some respects, I still view him as a lone wolf on the team – albeit a way more productive one than I imagined. If he signs elsewhere this offseason, I’ll claim partial credit for my question. Wilcox will never have made a real mark as Piston. But the way he played this year, if he re-signs, he could establish himself in Detroit.

PH then: Can he be traded?

If John Kuester is trying to foster a renewed focus on defense, Chris Wilcox can’t see court time. The Pistons were much worse defensively when he played last season, and with Greg Monroe added to the frontcourt mix, the team has even less incentive to play him. The question is whether Wilcox, who didn’t show much of anything last year, can show enough to entice a team to take him off the Pistons hands.

PH now: At least I didn’t botch this one as bad as Feldman.

Whether it was the realization that this is a contract year or finally realizing some of his potential, Chris Wilcox was pretty consistent offensively down the stretch for the Pistons.

He became an important player with the injuries to Jonas Jerebko and Ben Wallace and the ineffectiveness of Jason Maxiell. His size and athleticism are still intriguing, as is his good chemistry with Greg Monroe, who often found Wilcox for lobs around the basket.

In the preseason, I didn’t think Wilcox would play at all. Now, part of me hopes the Pistons can bring him back on a one-year deal next season.

9 Comments

  • Apr 20, 20118:29 pm
    by swish22

    Reply

    His chemistry with Monroe was pretty solid the last 20 games.  I think they should resign him if it doesn’t break the bank.  What kind of money do you think he will command?  Jerebko can play the 3 or 4 of course assuming he returns to his rookie level and Daye should get 20-30 minutes at the 3 assuming he keeps getting stronger, not sure who I’d plug into playing the other minutes available on the front line.  I won’t spend any more time bashing CV.  Maybe he’ll find his way into the weight room and re-dedicate himself into improving his weak areas.   

    • Apr 21, 20119:54 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I would love to have him back on a one-year deal. I’d be leery of anything beyond that simply based on his inconsistent history.

  • Apr 20, 201110:39 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    with the understanding that jerebko is at 240 lbs right now, i feel more comfortable with the idea of him playing the 4. he was a bit undersized last year at 220 or so, but 6’10, 240 is basically legit PF size. and i bet he adds some muscle in the offseason, given the concerns with his size last year and the team’s obvious need at the 4 (plus weightlifting can be addictive). so that likely gives us monroe, jj and villanueva up front. not going to intimidate anyone, but those guys are probably firmly entrenched.
     
    i have a feeling big ben will retire (call it a hunch), and he didn’t exactly repeat last year’s renaissance season, so i’m not counting on him. i think max is movable with that contract (particularly for a less productive expiring contract), but he may be in the mix. maybe he’s just bench depth again, since it would be nice to actually improve the frontcourt for next season.
     
    they’re probably only going to have room in the rotation for four big men, so i’m guessing their free agent money gets spent wherever they don’t draft some help. so it’ll depend on if they land a big man or a perimeter player (face it: probably a PG). if the new cap is similar to the old one they’ve got a full midlevel alone to offer. not that you could fetch much with a $2m bi-annual exception, but we don’t have one to spend this summer.
     
    ok, with all that out of the way, assuming the pistons draft a big man, i think they use the MLE to get a point guard (if they’re stupid, they’ll spend it on t-mac or something; if they’re smart, they’ll pick an actual building block). if they draft a perimeter player (and face it, we may have a need at the 1 and the 3; without tay or mac and with jj firmly entrenched at the 4, our depth at SF just dwindled to daye and maybe summers if we’re smart enough to pay him that cheap qualifying offer) i think wilcox would be a good free agent target. i don’t think he’ll come back, but maybe he’s got some kind of comfort zone and/or likes some of the people in the organization. i feel like he’ll get better offers elsewhere considering how he closed out the season, but i doubt we could lure a better free agent.
     
    also, i’d bet lots of money that he won’t be signing a one year deal with anyone who isn’t a LEGIT contender. we’re talking a top, say, five team in the league. nobody closes out a season like he did and signs a one year contract to boost his value some more. his value just peaked, and he might be able to snag a significant contract from someone. i might take my chances and give him three years (and probably live to regret it), since you just aren’t going to get a better free agent to come here, and that’s the length of the contracts BG and CV are on (so smart money says you’re not going to have any real hope of sustainable success no matter who’s on the roster).
     
    if gores wants to spend and become a taxpaying team, he’ll probably hand out a contract to just about anyone, even if it makes no sense on his own. that way he can trade it mid-season for something useful. he’s basically got two options going forward: either look towards the 2013-2014 season when he’ll have, like, five lottery picks on the roster, then get under the cap and try to add a free agent or two. or he could start adding payroll now (even if it’s not very discriminatory), since you can only add salary incrementally (roughly one midlevel exception per year).

  • Apr 20, 201111:08 pm
    by steve

    Reply

    id like to keep wilcox at a reasonable contract and move charlie v and ben gordon.  we will probably draft a point guard or biyombo.  either way id like to have wilcox for insurance.  so happy that the team is sold, im assuming joe d is going to do a major overhaul like he did around 2002.  if that happens, i personally believe we can be competitive for making the playoffs next year

    • Apr 21, 20119:56 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      With all of the defections from this draft, I’m skeptical Biyombo will be there at 7.

      This isn’t a comparison of his game at all, but his situation reminds me of Michael Olowakandi. Olowakandi was an unknown, huge, raw big man out of Pacific who rose to the top of what was considered a weak draft simply because he had unreal potential. I don’t think Biyombo will rise to first pick status like Olowokandi did, but I could certainly see him moving into the top five.

  • Apr 20, 201111:11 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    I suspect that Ben Wallace retires, that Wilcox gets an offer larger than the Pistons want to pay so he doesn’t come back, and that Max gets traded. That leaves Monroe, JJ, & CV as our bigs. obviously we need help and depth and i suspect that the draft will provide at least one and maybe two big men though i personally wouldn’t mind seeing the Pistons draft Burks – the combo guard from Colorado and going for a big man by trading Rip and/or Ben Gordon for another draft choice – like Cleveland’s #8 pick if the order stays as expected, Along with moving Prince in a sign and trade that would give us a nice core to develop. And i am a Rick Adelman fan. I guarentee you that both our offense and our defense would be better under Adelman. And while many people think Burks reminds them too much of Stuckey,(combo guard, strong & athletic, very good penetrator who can finish at the rack, midrange shot that needs work, questionable 3-point range, strong defensively – i think that would give the Pistons one of the best young backcourts in the league. You add Monroe to run the offense through at the high post in the half court and Daye and CV to hit the open three on the ball reversal off penetration and JJ and another big man who can play defense and rebound and get up and down the floor and you have a team that would be a terror in the open court – capable of either getting to the line or getting the open shot in the half court and very capable defensively if the big man we net from either the draft or the sign and trade is defensive minded and a bruiser or shot blocker. And i still hold out some small hope of Tay signing with Utah and getting Milsap – since the word is utah intends to keep Favors and Jefferson. I want no part of Jefferson howerver - should that be who Utah ultimately decided to move. 

    • Apr 21, 20119:57 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I hope you’re right on Utah, although I think they’d be crazy to trade Milsap considering his production relative to his contract.

  • Apr 20, 201111:47 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    cancel that. I guess Burks announced he was staying today. He had previously said if thought he was going 15 or higher he was coming out.

  • Apr 21, 201110:03 am
    by sop

    Reply

    Definitely Contract Year play from Wilcox. Worst Draft since 2000?

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