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Archive → June, 2011

Austin Daye planking picture

For those of you unaware, planking is the latest fad. People lie stiff as boards in strange settings. Sounds fun, right?

Austin Daye thinks so.

#RiseAndPlank

Personally, I wish Daye would tweet more photos of Swish instead.

Vincent Goodwill and Vince Ellis call DaJuan Summers one of the Pistons’ most mature players last season

We don’t hear much about DaJuan Summers, the forward who’s spent two non-descript years at the end of the Pistons’ bench. But a pair of Detroit writers tweeted highly of him last night.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News*:

I’d venture to say Summers and Greg Monroe were the two most mature #Pistons this season…

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press*:

Agree with @vgoodwill comments on DaJuan and Monroe.

I know what you’re thinking, because I had the same thought. Well, Goodwill went a step further*:

@Steward2778 actually that’s saying a lot. They’d be mature guys in veteran locker rooms too. Just no-nonsense guys in any environment

*These tweets reflects well on John Thompson III, who coached Monroe and Summers at Georgetown.

This revelation makes me even more upset the Pistons didn’t trade Tayshaun Prince to the Mavericks at the trade deadline. Does Detroit have a reliable idea what it has in Summers? He enters free agency this summer without many NBA minutes under his belt and the Pistons unlikely to retain him.

With a renewed emphasis on high-character players, shouldn’t Summer get an extended look?

I don’t believe Summers is a complete unknown to the Pistons. They saw him in practice, and there must have been a reason he didn’t play ahead of Prince, Austin Daye and the other Pistons who saw time at small forward (Tracy McGrady and Richard Hamilton). It’s not like Detroit just randomly kept Summers on the bench.

But without seeing him play more meaningful minutes, the Pistons can’t completely evaluate Summers. Some players perform better in games than in practice, and although only the former actually counts, the latter is important for getting a chance at the former.

Summers’ situation with Detroit resembles Arron Afflalo’s. Afflalo played limited minutes backing up Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince before the Pistons traded him to the Nuggets. Denver made him a starter, and his career took off.

Summers isn’t necessarily on the same track, but at least one coach thinks he is. Goodwill:

@WTFDetroit Summers has a good agent and has conducted himself professionally, one coach said his next stop is where he’ll put it together

There are signs Summers won’t follow Afflalo’s path, though.

As Patrick has pointed out, the Pistons haven’t put out word about Summers working hard and asking the veterans for advice like they have with other young players. Maybe that’s just the Pistons failing to get the story out, or maybe Summers isn’t an especially hard worker. There’s a difference between maturity and work ethic, and maybe Summers has one but not the other.

So, I don’t have a firm opinion on whether the Pistons should re-sign Summers, but I’m not convinced they do, either. That’s a bigger problem for them than for me.

Either way, I have more respect for Summers after reading Goodwill’s and Ellis’ tweets. Best of luck to him wherever he plays next year, even if things never work out like we once hoped they would in Detroit.

Pistons extended qualifying offer to Jonas Jerebko, no word on DaJuan Summers

When the Pistons extended a qualifying offer to Rodney Stuckey, they also made one to Jonas Jerebko, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

@WTFDetroit They did Jonas the same time as Stuck. No decision on Summers.

Jerebko’s qualifying offer was as automatic as Stuckey’s. If the Pistons retain him for his qualifying offer, $1,059,293, that would be a huge bargain. I suspect he’ll get more money in a multi-year deal, though.

On the other hand, I’d be pretty shocked if DaJuan Summers receives a qualifying offer. Barring a change in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, his qualifying offer would match Jerebko’s, and I just don’t think he’s worth that much..

Summers hasn’t made an impact in Detroit, and Kyle Singler makes him even more expendable.

Perhaps – and I think this is a longshot – the Pistons still have some interest in keeping Summers. If that’s the case, I think they’d look to pay him only the minimum salary. So (again, if current relevant CBA rules hold), if they don’t offer Summers a QO, they’d have a chance to sign him for $175,000 less, but they’d lose the right to match offers he receives from other teams. Sounds like good risk/reward to me.

Detroit Pistons Coach Dreams: Patrick Ewing

Essentials

Age: 48

Current Job: Assistant Coach, Orlando Magic  (2007-present)

Previous experience:

  • Assistant Coach, Houston Rockets  (2004-06)
  • Assistant Coach, Washington Wizards  (2003-04)

Pros

Patrick Ewing insists he’s more than a big man’s coach, and that’s probably true. Obviously, the Pistons should hire someone who’s capable of working with players at every position. Having a specialty is OK, but having a strict limitation is not.

Causality is difficult to assess, but Dwight Howard and Yao Ming both improved significantly under Ewing. In both cases, the player went from a raw, but talented, big man who didn’t regularly assert themselves in the offense to the focal point of the offense. Not only did their roles increase, they looked more polished and displayed a wider variety of post moves.

Ewing would probably be great for Greg Monroe, whose interior game could use a little polish. During the summer league last year, the only time the Pistons ran plays for him, Monroe showed a mixed bag in the post. Plus, Monroe would love to play for another former Georgetown player.

Wait. I’m supposed to talk about more than just big men. Um, well, hmmm… I don’t really know what to say. Let’s move on.

Cons

Monroe is the only true big on the roster. Charlie Villanueva, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell (and Vernon Macklin, if he makes the team) have the size to learn more of a post game, too. But if the Pistons believe Ewing’s specialty is coaching bigs, he might not have the largest effect on this team.

Plus, when Ewing coached Howard and Yao, they were at an age most players improve. How much did Ewing help them, and how much was he just along for the ride?

As far as other positions, like I wrote above, Ewing doesn’t really have an established track record.

Ewing never struck me as a particularly smart player (not that he struck as a stupid player, by any means). He just never stood above the fray.

Did Ewing get an interview only because Tom Gores advisor and former Knicks president Dave Checketts pushed for one, or because Joe Dumars believes Ewing might be the best coach available? If it’s the former and not the latter, the Pistons have no business hiring Ewing.

Verdict

Ewing seems to think teams have an agenda against him. That may or may not be the case. Maybe he’s just not that good of a coach.

He’s clearly worked hard to position himself to at least draw consideration for head-coaching openings, serving seven years as an assistant. I have no problem with the Pistons interviewing him. In fact, it can only help to cover your bases and make another friend. I imagine Ewing is grateful for the opportunity to interview.

I doubt the Pistons will hire him, but if they do, that would signal he’s a better candidate than he appears to me. At that point, he would’ve beaten some very legitimate candidates for the job.

Still, I can’t see Ewing becoming Detroit’s head coach. If the Pistons hire an Xs -and-Os coach like Lawrence Frank, Ewing might make sense as an assistant. If they hire someone like Bill Laimbeer, Ewing wouldn’t complement him as an assistant.

Previously

How do you grade the Pistons’ draft?

How do you grade the Pistons for drafting Vernon Macklin?

Detroit Pistons Coach Dreams: Adrian Dantley

Essentials

Age: 55

Current Job: None

Previous experience:

  • Assistant Coach, Denver Nuggets  (2003-2011)

Pros

Dantley is a Hall of Fame player, a Pistons legend and he has significant experience as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.

The Pistons have interviewed former big-men greats Bill Laimbeer (to great acclaim among fans) and Patrick Ewing (to not so great acclaim among fans) for the head job. Part of the reasoning, I assume, is that the Pistons would like a coach who can help Greg Monroe take the next step after a promising rookie season and develop a better low-post game. I would argue that if it’s low-post fundamentals the team is after, there is no better coach for Monroe or any young big than Dantley. Dantley was simply a better post player than Laimbeer or Ewing were. Now, Laimbeer and Ewing were superior in other areas, but Dantley, as an undersized and unathletic four, used a variety of jab-steps, moves, counter-moves and craftiness to do most of his damage around the basket against bigger players.

On top of that, he was a beloved former Piston who was nicknamed ‘Teacher’ by his teammates. He was also a friend and mentor to a young Joe Dumars:

Thomas’s backcourt mate, Joe Dumars, was deeply saddened that Dantley, who had been his best friend among his teammates, was gone, but he held his tongue about the deal. In a gesture of respect, Dumars requested a DANTLEY 45 jersey as a keepsake.

Dumars also told SLAM a few years ago that, “Adrian is my favorite teammate ever.” Dantley would be a surprise candidate for this job. But as the interview with Ewing proved, the Pistons apparently aren’t opposed to looking at surprise candidates.

Cons

Dantley has a reputation as being a bit stuck in his ways, dating back to his playing days. He didn’t leave Detroit on the greatest terms, believing that Isiah Thomas orchestrated the trade that sent him away. He also had an audition as a head coach, taking over for George Karl when Karl was battling cancer. The team’s performance fell off with Dantley at the helm and the Nuggets were eliminated in the first round.

The recent circumstances surrounding his departure from Denver also don’t sound like things that would help build a case for hiring him as a head coach.

Verdict

I am actually intrigued by the idea of Dantley on Detroit’s coaching staff, just not as the head coach. Dantley has worked with young post players for a long time, even before he became a NBA assistant (he was at a camp I went to at Olivet College and spent a day working with 14- and 15-year-olds on footwork). I think he could do wonders working with Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Vernon Macklin or any other young bigs the Pistons add to the roster.

Previously

Tom Gores consulting former Knicks president Dave Checketts, Joe Dumars still lead basketball decision-maker

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Former New York Knicks president Dave Checketts is serving as a basketball consultant to new Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores, according to sources close to the situation.

The news of Checketts’ involvement coincides with former Knicks great Patrick Ewing’s emergence late last week as a candidate for the Pistons’ coaching vacancy.

Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars continues to serve as Detroit’s lead basketball decision-maker, with Gores announcing when he officially took control of the franchise earlier this month that "we’re going to lean on [Dumars] pretty heavily."

Yet sources said that Gores is also taking a level of input from Checketts, who headed up New York’s management structure when the Knicks were built around Ewing.

Checketts served as president and general manager with the Utah Jazz before his time with the Knicks, during which he ultimately rose to president and chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden.

This certainly makes the surprising decision to interview Patrick Ewing a lot more understandable.

Checketts will consult Gores only in the short term, according to Matt Dery. I have a slight concern about Checketts and Dumars stepping on each other’s toes, but that would be much more worrisome if Checketts were to be around long term. It’s Tom Gores’ responsibility to ensure Dumars and Checketts work smoothly together however long this arrangement lasts.

The Pistons’ long and illustrious history of drafting great people every year

In the wake of the Pistons drafting Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler and Vernon Macklin, my Google Reader has been full of articles praising the Pistons’ draft class for its character, work ethic, toughness, effort, leadership, intelligence, hustle, grit and competitiveness. Even more articles followed the introductory press conference.

You’d think the Pistons had never drafted a good person before.

Except they have. Every year, in fact. Apparently, Joe Dumars has ever drafted less than a stand-up individual. Now, maybe some of his draft picks have had issues in the past. But that was before the Pistons drafted them. At that point, their troubles were clearly behind them.

Don’t believe me? Look at what the Pistons said themselves each year of the Dumars era.

2000

Mateen Cleaves

Joe Dumars, via Chris McCosky of The Detroit News:

"His biggest asset is his leadership — and anybody who underestimates that (doesn’t) understand what’s going on. We need his toughness, his energy and his enthusiasm."

2001

Rodney White

A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive.com:

Dumars said earlier this week that, if push came to shove, talent would trump toughness on draft night.

He apparently got both in White.

Rick Carlisle, via McCosky:

"What we were told over and over was, he loves to play, he loves to work and be in the gym, he wants to get better and he wants to win. Those are the types of qualities Joe is looking for in the guys he brings to this team."

White, via McCosky:

"I am a hard worker and I think that’s what Joe Dumars was impressed with."

2002

Tayshaun Prince

Dumars, via Blakely:

"He knows how to carry himself, and that’s probably more than just basketball. That’s what four years of college has done for him. He’ll walk in here and know how to handle himself."

Dumars, via McCosky:

"The talent is evident, but in terms of development and whether a player will be a success or not, a great deal of that comes from what a person has within. … That’s why you hear me talking so much about what he possesses inside. He has a great foundation and a great background. This is the type of people we want to bring to the Detroit Pistons."

2003

Darko Milicic

Then-Pistons vice president of basketball operations John Hammond, via the Associated Press:

"I think this guy is extremely tough. He’s a fighter."

Dumars, via the Associated Press:

Dumars said he would be surprised if Milicic fails to handle the pressure, expectations and newfound riches in a foreign country.

"I’m telling you, he’s a different type of 18-year-old," Dumars said. "When you’re living through wars and you’ve been on your own in an apartment since you’re 14 years old, that tends to make you mature a lot faster."

2004

Rickey Paulding

Hammond:

“Rickey Paulding, knowing the kind of a man he is, the family that he comes from and the support that he’ll have, it’s great for him to be here.”

2005

Jason Maxiell

Pistons director of scouting George David, via Blakely:

"He was the toughest kid in the draft," said George David, Detroit’s director of scouting. "I don’t know if there was a kid that we thought would fit the mold of this team any better than that kid."

Dumars, via McCosky:

"When you are picking as far down as we were (26th overall) and with the type of team we have, the most critical thing becomes making sure you add somebody that fits into your culture and environment," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "We feel this guy has the same DNA as the rest of the Pistons."

2006

Will Blalock

Dumars, via Peter May of The Boston Globe:

"Will has come in and played with toughness, confidence, and poise. He has fit in well here with our guys."

2007

Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo

Dumars, via Joanne C. Gerstner of The Detroit News:

"I feel very confident about these two young men," Dumars said. "These two guys are not about the hype. They’re not about all the sizzle, but they get it done.

"And that’s what I am looking for … they’ll represent toughness, they’ll represent Detroit well."

Dumars, via Blakely:

“We will continue to bring in young guys like this who are mature and mentally and physically ready to step on the floor and compete."

Arron Afflalo

Dumars, via McCosky:

"He’s a tough guy, a fighter, a guy who competes and is a winner. That’s what appealed to me," Dumars said of Afflalo.

2008

Walter Sharpe

Dumars, via Pistons.com via Dave Dial of MLive.com:

Dumars said he’s talked to "more people in Alabama than I care to remember" and is perfectly convinced Sharpe has a firm grip on his life now.

2009

Austin Daye

Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press on Dumars:

But he made it clear that he tabbed 6-foot-11 forward Austin Daye 15th overall not only for what he could do on the court, but also for what he won’t do away from the court. He won’t show up late on game days or late to the airport for flights. He won’t show up authority if he disagrees with a coaching decision.

"Never again will I allow us to be in a position where we’re dealing with issues, where we’re dealing with drama," said Dumars.

in choosing Daye, he sent a message that the Pistons need to correct a deficiency in attitude as well as an absence of pure talent.

Dumars, via McCosky:

"He is an extremely smart player and a very high character guy. We think he is a player who will represent the Pistons both on and off the court."

Dumars, via Blakely:

"Two things that I talked to my staff about as soon as the season was over," Dumars said. "We had to increase our talent base and I want character guys every time we take somebody from now on. With Austin Daye, we cover ourselves with both of those things."

2010

Greg Monroe and Terrico White

Dumars, via Langlois:

“I think what you’re also going to find out is two very humble, down-to-earth young guys, handle themselves extremely well, good guys, have their heads on straight.

“I think they’re going to make this organization proud, they’re going to make their family, their friends – everybody they represent – they’re going to make them proud. They’re going to make the Pistons proud on and off the court and that’s important to us.”

Greg Monroe

Perry, via Langlois:

“he’ll be a great teammate. The guy is about trying to win and do the right things. He’ll be a good representative for us on and off the court.”

“The kid came in in a suit and tie, was dressed as a professional already,” Perry said. “He looked everyone in the eye when he had an opportunity to answer questions. That wasn’t a surprise at all. In talking to (Georgetown) coach (John) Thomspon, too, he said he reminds me as a kid off the court of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert – no maintenance at all. My having a personal relationship with Jeff Green” – Perry was assistant general manager in Seattle when the Sonics drafted Green in 2007 – “that resonates with me. I always tell people around here that Jeff is one of the best young men I’ve ever been around, whether in coaching or here in the NBA. When he said that, that spoke volumes.”

The point of this post

I’m not saying Knight, Singler and Macklin aren’t high-character individuals. They probably are.

But they have to prove that every day, not by having their new bosses vouch for them in a press conference.

Dennis Rodman and counterculture

I’ve written plenty around PistonPowered about Dennis Rodman on the court leading up to his induction in the Hall of Fame this August. Something I haven’t written about as much here, however, is his off-court impact (some might say sideshow). I touched on that aspect of Rodman, particularly his ability to pull in new, non-traditional sports fans to the NBA during the height of his game for the Good Men Project:

He became a superstar despite actions that the NBA generally detested. He grew his fanbase not just from traditional basketball watchers, many of whom hated the off-court antics he was associated with while grudgingly respecting the defense and intangibles he brought to his teams, but from people Rodman pulled into following the league because they were Rodman fans before they were
basketball fans.