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Archive → May, 2011

Which player do you most want to get drafted BEFORE the Pistons pick at No. 8?

Fourth-year guard Rodney Stuckey hires his fifth agent

Rodney Stuckey has hired his fifth agent in his four-year career, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Stuckey, who will become a restricted free agent in six weeks if there is no NBA lockout, left Seattle-based Steve Banks in favor of Leon Rose.

Rose is the agent for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Pistons teammate Richard Hamilton. Rose is Stuckey’s fifth agent since 2007. Banks, who declined comment, began working with Stuckey when he was drafted by the Pistons and Stuckey was represented by Goodwin Sports Management.

Stuckey left Goodwin in September 2009, and he and Banks reunited in January 2010.

Merely from a standpoint of assessing Stuckey, this is a bit disconcerting. Why has he changed agents so many times? I believe a player’s off-court decision making can correlate with his on-court decision making, so if I were the Pistons, I’d certainly explore what’s happening here. There may be nothing worrisome, but I’d at least have questions.

As far as Stuckey returning to Detroit, could this put a hitch in Joe Dumars’ plan? Because Stuckey is a restricted free agent, the Pistons appeared to be in the driver’s seat this summer. Rose has plenty of other clients, but his most high-profile jobs recently involve trying to get players under contract (Carmelo Anthony, Richard Hamilton and, perhaps, Chris Paul) to new teams. Did a hope of taking control of his free agency draw Stuckey to Rose?

Handling Stuckey this summer was already complicated, and now it appears even more so.

David Kahn: Bill Laimbeer is ready to become an NBA head coach

SECAUCUS, New Jersey – David Kahn, the general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, holds a prominent position for a team in the world’s premier basketball league. He also once said Darko’s passing ability compared favorably with Vlade’s (Chris Webber: “Vlade Divac?!”).

So, depending on your opinion of Bill Laimbeer, you can rate Kahn’s basketball knowledge how you please. But for what it’s worth:

“There’s no question in my mind, Bill Laimbeer’s capable of being an NBA head coach,” Kahn said.

Today?

“Absolutely.”

Kahn interviewed Laimbeer for Minnesota’s vacant head-coaching job, which ultimately went to Kurt Rambis, but as a Timberwolves assistant, Laimbeer is still learning the trade.

“I thought Bill did a fine job,” Kahn said. “And I think that Bill, over the last couple years, is starting to learn what it’s like to be an assistant in our league and acquires probably a lot of knowledge that he probably, otherwise, wouldn’t have had.”

Like?

“I think that there’s an appreciation that all assistants who are new at it probably acquire, about just how much work it is to prepare an NBA team on a nightly or a daily basis,” Kahn said.

Of course, the Pistons still have John Kuester. But I’m not sure you could find anyone who doesn’t believe his firing is inevitable.

So, is Kahn right? And more relevantly, will Joe Dumars agree?

John Kuester will run Pistons’ individual workouts in Auburn Hills

After Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reported John Kuester isn’t attending the NBA Combine in Chicago this week, Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News has the scoop about Kuester’s involvement in the Pistons’ draft process:

On Thursday, Kuester told The Detroit News he’ll run all the individual draft workouts when prospects begin making their way to Auburn Hills.

I don’t really understand this. If the Pistons are comfortable – regardless their long-term plans for him – having Kuester help with the draft process, why not take him to Chicago? Could it be a cost-saving move?

If you trust him to run individual workouts in Auburn Hills, why couldn’t he be an extra set of eyes in Chicago?

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Travis Leslie

With draft picks like Rodney Stuckey and Terrico White, Joe Dumars has shown that he likes guards who are strong and athletic. Travis Leslie might be among the most athletic players in this year’s draft. Also, he said and then didn’t say that he was better than Tony Allen.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 205 pounds,  junior G from Georgia

Key stats: 14.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals per game while shooting 49 percent

Projected: Late first/early second round

How would he help the Pistons?

As I’ve mentioned throughout this series, the Pistons are not an athletic team with the exception of a couple of players and I won’t spend many words explaining what Leslie would bring to the table in that department. Just watch:

It’s safe to say Leslie and White would make practices more entertaining with their leaping ability. But he’s not just a dunking machine. Leslie has a good work ethic and has an outstanding rebounding average for a guard. His 49 percent shooting also shows that his shot selection is generally pretty good, and his finishing ability is obvious.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

The Pistons don’t need more guards. But they didn’t really need more guards last year when they selected White in the second round. Dumars picked White because he was a first round talent who fell, and although Leslie may not fall to the second round, if he were on the board when the Pistons pick early in that round, he’d be hard to pass up even if he doesn’t fill an immediate need.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

Defensively, Leslie has all the tools to be successful on the NBA level, even if he is undersized. He shows active hands and solid lateral quickness, making him quite a pest in the college game. At this juncture, he needs to gain experience guarding the perimeter full time, as he still spends some time defending power forwards depending on who UGA is matching up with. With additional coaching, Leslie should become a very solid individual and team defender, only adding to his merits as a terrific rebounder for his size on both ends of the court.

From ESPN:

An amazing athlete and perhaps the best leaper in college basketball, Leslie could compete in an NBA dunk contest. But is he an NBA player? His lack of a jump shot and lack of size for his position have scouts worried. If he was two inches taller and could stroke the ball, he’d be a lottery pick. As it stands now, he’s on the first-round bubble.

From NBADraft.net:

Playmaking is not a staple, but he’s capable of getting inside the lane with a lightning quick first step … Assist figures are on the rise (0.6 to 2.5 to 2.9). Versatile defender. Able to guard multiple positions using his combination of strength and agility … An attacking presence defensively, trusting his physical gifts … Quick hands and plays passing lanes well (1.1 career stl) … Blocked a shot per game as a sophomore.

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Here’s a breakdown of how Ian Levy from Hickory High came up with his similarity scores.

Previously

Crain’s Detroit: Pistons have been borrowing money to meet operating expenses

Crain’s Detroit Business reported today that the Pistons have been borrowing money to meet operating expenses and that Tom Gores will assume that debt as part of purchasing the team:

How much the team has borrowed and how far it is in the red are unknown because those involved have declined to comment.

For some time, the National Basketball Association’s team owners have said they are losing money, and the Pistons are said to be among the 19 franchises to borrow from the leaguewide $2.3 billion low-interest credit facility. The league caps borrowing against the facility at $125 million, and most of the teams that have tapped into it are thought to have taken up to the limit.

Additionally, New York-based Citi Private Bank Sports Finance and Advisory was selected last year by current Pistons owner Karen Davidson to broker a sale of the franchise in part because it was willing to subsidize the team’s operations.

“We were looking to see if the investment banker would finance the operation of the team,” Joseph Aviv, co-managing partner of Bloomfield Hills-based Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, told the trade publication Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly this month. He was part of the Honigman team retained by the estate of the William Davidson, who bequeathed the team to wife Karen Davidson after his March 2009 death.

When asked by email today by Crain’s about the situation, Aviv declined to comment beyond their previous statements.

Citi has declined to comment throughout the sale.

This report doesn’t suggest that the sale of the team is in jeopardy, but it might explain why the negotiations took longer or were more complicated than expected.

Greg Monroe claims Rookie of the Year voting won’t motivate him

SECAUCUS, New Jersey – Maybe Greg Monroe’s snub in Rookie of the Year voting won’t motivate him after all.

Shortly after the NBA released results, which had him sixth, Monroe tweeted:

S….m….h….

MOTIVATION! And no i aint talkn bout the song!

I asked Monroe about those tweets, just to check whether they referred to Rookie of the Year voting. Keep in mind, they came in the midst of myself and several other NBA writers discussing the just-released results.

“Oh, no,” Monroe said. “Not at all. It’s a song, actually.”

Really? Didn’t you specifically say you weren’t referring to the song?

“Oh, uh, nah, it was probably something different,” Monroe said between pauses. “I just tweet a lot of random stuff. I don’t really get caught up in the voting things.”

Believable explanation? I guess, that’s up to you to decide.

But what motivates Monroe isn’t as important as him being motivated to improve. Thankfully, unlike the apparently offensively focused Pistons, Monroe seems like he also has defense in mind this summer.

“I think I need to get better at both of them, and that’s what I’m focusing on,” said Monroe, who’s been working out in Louisiana and will head to Washington D.C. in July.

Perhaps, that’s just the cliché answer and doesn’t accurately represent Monroe’s plans. Pressed a little further, he said he’s working on everything: “getting stronger, jump shot, just my whole skillset.”

I like that item he listed first a great deal and the second item will certainly help, too.

Hoops and Politics: Dave Bing talks about the daunting task of turning around Detroit

Bloomberg has an interesting read on Detroit Mayor and Pistons Hall of Famer Dave Bing. If you’re interested in the politics of Detroit and urban decay in general, it’s well worth a look. And if you’re not, there’s even a bit of basketball in there:

Basketball paved the way for Bing to escape the poverty of Washington. The son of a bricklayer and a domestic worker, Bing became a basketball star at Syracuse University and was a first- round draft choice of the Pistons in 1966.

He played guard for the team for nine years and retired in 1978, finishing his career with the Boston Celtics.

After retiring from basketball, he became a bank teller, working three branches in Detroit. Using his connections with then-Pistons owner Bill Davidson, Bing got into the steel stamping business, eventually running The Bing Group, a privately held collection of small manufacturers and suppliers that made steel for the auto industry. Bing sold the company in 2010.

Karen Davidson ‘has no idea’ whether Tom Gores will retain team president Joe Dumars

This obviously throws just a bit of doubt on earlier reports that Tom Gores would allow Joe Dumars to stay on as team president, but in an interview with Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press, Karen Davidson said she didn’t know what Gores would do:

“I have no idea,” Davidson said, when I asked about Dumars. That will be up to Gores and the crack management pros from his Platinum Equity investment group, which also will have a stake in the Pistons.

“They are very success oriented,” Davidson said. “It’s not as if they’re a bunch of amateurs with a lot of money.”

Translation: Don’t expect Gores to wait long to start shaking things up.

Dan and I have both on different occasions expressed our opinion that Dumars deserves a chance to work at rebuilding the team without the ownership constraints of the last two seasons, and a sampling of PistonPowered readers overwhelmingly supported retaining him. Still though, I agree with the sentiments expressed by Matt Watson at Detroit Bad Boys:

You have to hope that a new owner won’t be content with Detroit’s slide into irrelevance, and it’s not out of line to think that he might hold Dumars accountable.

Matt is exactly right. I think something that often gets lost in the polarizing Dumars debates out there is that it’s possible to endorse his return without endorsing the moves he’s made over the last few seasons. I like Dumars and respect his body of work as GM, but GMs and coaches with successful track records pay the consequences for slip-ups all the time. Dumars created a culture in Detroit where success year-in, year-out is expected. I think that was his vision from the start, and now that he has set such high standards, he has to go back out and live up to them.

Oh, and incidentally, the majority of DBB readers think Dumars should stay according to the poll in Matt’s post too. Let’s keep in mind that even though  the ‘Dumars must go!’ voices are often the loudest doesn’t mean they are speaking for the majority.

John Kuester isn’t at NBA Combine

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

In case you were wondering, #Pistons coach John Kuester isn’t at the predraft camp in Chicago. He was here last season.

John Kuester is the lamest duck. I can’t even feel sorry for him, because he must know it’s just a matter of time until the Pistons fire him. It certainly doesn’t appear like they’re keeping him in suspense.