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Rodney Stuckey’s contract, delays, doesn’t solve Pistons’ dilemma

Rodney Stuckey signed a three-year, $25 million contract, which seems perfectly fair, because it will almost certainly be completely unfair.

Stuckey is just as likely to outplay the deal as he is to become Joe Dumars’ latest mistake. Three years and $25 million a great compromise between the five years and $40 million that the Pistons reportedly offered and the $10 million  per year Stuckey supposedly wanted. In theory, both sides will get a chance to learn more about each other.

But this won’t be any easier in 2014.

The way I see it, there are three possibilities if Stuckey becomes a Pistons free agent in three years – none of which would place Detroit in ideal position.

1. Stuckey underperforms. This is pretty self-explanatory. The Pistons can’t really afford to have another* one of its players, especially their second-highest-paid player, have his production fall below his salary.

*Have I mentioned Detroit’s three(!) amnesty candidates?

2. Stuckey takes the next step and become a star. In the short term, that would be great. But in three years, unlike this time, Stuckey would have leverage as an unrestricted free agent. There are strong signs he wants out, and the Pistons only option for keeping him could very well be to overpay.

3. Stuckey plays like an $8.3 million-per-season player. He hasn’t done that yet, so it would take modest improvements. But that’s what Stuckey does: make modest improvements without reaching star status.

PER isn’t a perfect stat, but it gives a rough approximation of a player’s value. Stuckey’s PER has risen each year he’s been in the league, from 2007-08 to 2010-11.

Just 11 other players have had their PER rise between each of those seasons. In reputation and compensation, they’re much better off that Stuckey:

  • Al Horford (five years, $60 million in 2010)
  • Tyrus Thomas (five years, $40 million in 2010)
  • Joakim Noah (five years, $60 million in 2010)
  • Nene (five years, $67.5 million in 2011)
  • Kyle Lowry (four years, $23.46 million in 2010)
  • Luis Scola (five years, $47,041,037 in 2010)
  • Pau Gasol (three years, $57 million in 2009)
  • Tony Allen (three years, $9.45 million in 2009)
  • Zach Randolph (four years, $66 million in 2011)
  • Andrea Bargnani (five years, $50 million in 2009)
  • Wilson Chandler (4.5 years, $33 million*)

*The average of estimates by Kalen Deremo and Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company for the contract Chandler, who signed during the lockout to play in China, would receive now as an NBA free agent.

On average, that’s 4.4 years and $46.7 million – likely in line with what Stuckey would seek with his next contract if continues to make modest improvements without reaching the next level. Is a non-star really worth that?

Hopefully, the Pistons won’t have to answer that question, or deal with the other two possibilities. With the handcuffs off, Dumars should do what he couldn’t do leading up to Stuckey’s first free agency: trade him.

That will be easier if Brandon Knight develops into a top-flight point guard and because Stuckey didn’t accept the qualifying offer, which would have given him a no-trade clause.

The Pistons were in a lose-lose situation with Stuckey now – either keep a less-than-stellar fit or let a talented player walk for nothing. They’re headed down the same path again. This time, they have a chance to do something about it, and they should.

Trade Stuckey before his contract ends.


  • Dec 20, 20114:06 pm
    by Max


    I don’t like the premise of the article because it assumes Stuckey won’t be happy here in 3 years when it’s entirely possible the Pistons will be a great team by then with Stuckey playing an integral role as a 3rd or 4th best player.  I also disagree that Stuckey hasn’t been worth his contract.  A 25 point guard who has had 100s of starts and averaged essentially 15, 5, 5 year in and year out who also plays better defense than most starting point guards is easily worth 8-9 million.  I think he’s much better than many of the players you listed; Tyrus Thomas has been in the league for a bit now and has yet to even crack the Bobcat’s starting lineup.  Tony Allen is a joke comparison…..he’s a steals specialist and has almost never been able to stay healthy.
    I like Stuckey so maybe I’m not objective enough but I went over the other 29 teams starting lineups and determined that Stuckey was a clear upgrade for 22-24 teams at one or the other of their starting guard positions.   I think very few players can say as much and there are even a few small forwards where I’d rather awkwardly start Stuckey.

    • Dec 20, 20114:18 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Tony Allen is by far the best perimeter defender in the league.

      • Dec 20, 20117:07 pm
        by tarsier


        by far?!?! you can make an argument that he is the best perimeter defender in the league, but personally i’d say wade or iggy with consideration to james and sefolosha.

      • Dec 21, 20111:10 am
        by Trever


        I think there is a SG in Denver that is a pretty good Perimeter Defender.

    • Dec 21, 201112:15 am
      by Dan Feldman


      “averaged essentially 15, 5, 5 year in and year out”

      Stuckey has never had a 15-5-5 season, let alone doing year in and year out.

  • Dec 20, 20114:19 pm
    by Marvin Jones


    Hey Max, you’ll have to excuse Feldman, he has a healthy hate for Stuckey so don’t put too much stock into his opinions. For whatever reasons he’s ok with trading a talented player because he doesn’t “fit”, his opinion not mine.

    • Dec 20, 20114:27 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Uh … he didn’t say trade him just to trade him. The assumption is they would try to trade him to acquire a player at a position where they have less depth.

      Eh, screw it. Just keep him and run out a lineup of five wing players.

      • Dec 20, 20117:09 pm
        by Marvin Jones


        And Patrick, why does keeping him means we trot out 5 wing players? See what I mean, just hating to be hating. Stuckey is a quality player who I think under a quality coach will turn the corner on his career just like CB did under Brown, it’s certainly worth keeping him on a reasonable contract to find out.

        • Dec 20, 201110:14 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          Just jokes man.

          But seriously, I have never once said Stuckey is not a quality asset. I do advocate trading him because he has value, he still has upside and the Pistons have young players in Brandon Knight and Austin Daye who I think have a shot at being the team’s backcourt of the future. The Pistons need help in the frontcourt, and Stuckey is one of their best tradeable assets to bring back a decent frontcourt guy. It’s far from hating. The Pistons are just too perimeter heavy and way too thin up front.

  • Dec 20, 20115:20 pm
    by vic


    basketball is more than stats. a bunch of wings that play the same role really well dont win games, (hence our record). They most definitely dont win championships.  I’ll give Joe D the benefit of the doubt that he is developing the assets he has so that he can trade and draft into another 03-05 run when the opportunity comes. If we have 8 solid wings we may be able trade 3 of them for a BIG one day.

  • Dec 20, 20116:20 pm
    by detroitpcb


    Dan, Patrick, you guys are nuts. i’m glad all you do is write about the Pistons. we had to keep Stuckey. he was the best player on the team last year other than Prince. He is young. He has improved every year. He has the potential to average 18 points and 8 assists a night playing the combo position and will probably pull 3 rebounds a night as well, maybe more. You put Stuckey on a team with a defensive shot blocker behind him where he can cheat his man to one side and you would see what a defensive stopper Stuckey could be. This kid is a solid pro and could still improve and reach the next level.

    you can tell you guys never played the game.

    • Dec 20, 201110:19 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “we had to keep Stuckey.”

      Where in this story, in this comment thread or anywhere on this site does Dan or I say the Pistons should’ve let Stuckey walk? Both of us have said dozens of times they needed to sign as long as the terms were reasonable. He’s a solid, improving, tradeable asset that they couldn’t afford to lose for nothing.

      “He is young. He has improved every year.”

      Both of us have written this too many times to count.

      “You put Stuckey on a team with a defensive shot blocker behind him where he can cheat his man to one side and you would see what a defensive stopper Stuckey could be.”

      You can say this about any strong, athletic wing in the league. Shot blocking big men make everyone look like solid or better perimeter defenders.

      “you can tell you guys never played the game.”

      I can tell you are barely literate.


  • Dec 20, 20117:24 pm
    by Laser


    @Feldman: First and foremost, here is one place where you and I are in lock-step. This team is chock-full of lose-lose situations, and this is a shining example. We don’t have very many tradable assets, and a quality young player with a reasonable contract looks like GOLD weighed against the norm for this roster.
    The problem, as I see it, is that Joe Dumars is in too deep. His top priority is no longer (assuming it ever was) to make the roster better now or in the future; priority one is to do as much damage control as he can get away with to save face. He’s had no shortage of excuses or boosters, no matter how increasingly clear it’s become that the emperor has no clothes. People are still talking about his hands being tied during the Karen Davidson era, even though the cuffs are off and he still can’t do anything to the roster because it’s a total mess.
    Joe simply isn’t going to make his biggest mistakes go away, because that would shine a magnifying glass on them. For instance: Ben Gordon would have been amnestied before the ink was dry on the new CBA were he on any other team or under the control of any other GM; he’s most certainly got one of the worst contracts in the league. But if Joe cut him loose it would be a total loss of the $58 million we paid him to come here and accomplish absolutely nothing, so it would make Joe look bad. As long as Ben is on the roster, Joe will always have excuses and boosters. Ditto for Charlie Villanueva, who has absolutely no excuse for being as useless as he’s been since he got here.
    He probably hated to waive Rip, but he had no choice but to alleviate the backcourt logjam, and his unforgivable mismanagement of the team left him with little choice. Waiving Rip saved the most face: He’s the longest-tenured candidate; he was particularly outspoken in his displeasure; he wore out his welcome with many fans; he was a bad fit in the system. The bottom line is that every single one of these micro-problems can be traced back to Joe, not the least of which being the inexplicable $40 million dollar extension he gave Rip that would keep him here until he was a veteran’s minimum candidate at best, an extension Rip would have been insane not to sign.
    Of course he wasn’t going to cut ties with Stuckey (his pet) or Gordon (who can’t even be traded at all, for reasons detailed above). He’d passed on considerable offers for Tayshaun in the past, and letting him walk for nothing would be a total loss the team just can’t afford, not to mention that he’s one of our best and most versatile players. Knight stays, obviously. In two seasons we still have no idea what Austin Daye is, which (a) is inexcusable enough as it is, and therefore (b) wouldn’t be worth nearly enough on the trade market to consider moving him, plus (c) we passed up on some known NBA prospects to draft him. Bynum’s contract is very cap-friendly, which is a rarity around here, and I don’t think he’d fetch much on the open market. It would also send a bizarre message after a pair of zero-effort seasons to trade the hardest working man on the team. Add Rip to these guys, and Phil Jackson couldn’t make a rotation work. You get the idea.
    So as long as Joe has job security, far too many blind supporters, and an infinite supply of bogus excuses… this is what we’re looking at. He can’t bring himself to clean up his mess. He smashed this franchise to smithereens based on his expectations of Stuckey, and he will never ever EVER get enough back to make a trade wash this brat’s taste out of our mouths. So, yes, you’re right. We should trade him, and I don’t think my asking price would be prohibitive in the least. But it’s not likely to happen on Joe’s watch. More likely, we’ll play out a few more excruciating, intensely unwatchable years of basketball. The organization and its lapdog beat writers will continue to focus on the development of a few young players, which is a poor consolation prize for such a pathetic and avoidable fall from grace. We’ll collect a few more middling lottery picks along the way, and eventually Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva will be gone far too late. It couldn’t happen any other way.

    • Dec 21, 201112:04 pm
      by frankie d


      an excellent rundown of the current state of affairs and how we got here.
      a while back, i think you indicated that what had happened – the collapse – was unprecedented.  one of the writers, i think feldman, called you an idiot, or something of that sort, for saying that it was unprecedented.
      coincidentally, i’d just taken a look at the last 30 years of the nba – since the bird/magic era – looking for a situation that was similar.  an elite team that self-destructed solely based on bad decisions by its management.
      i couldn’t find any similar example, as most elite teams – teams that won titles and had long, successful runs – fell from grace because of injuries, free agency issues, conflicts between teammates, something – and i could not find a single instance that was similar to what happened in detroit, where the gm unilaterally dismantled and destroyed an elite team.
      so it was unprecedented.
      i asked the writer who had called you an idiot if he could find another, similar example and so far, i’ve not seen a response.

      • Dec 21, 201112:29 pm
        by Patrick Hayes


        Well, I’m not the writer who responded (although if it was Feldman, calling someone an ‘idiot’ in a comment is not really his style, he’s more mature than I am), but I’ll give this a shot.

        The easy example is Chicago. Krause decided to blow up a championship team and start over. His Baby Bulls rebuilding effort was a colossal fail — he essentially got nothing of value for the still productive Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. His free agent signings — Ron Mercer and Eddie Robinson — were busts. And that team was brutally horrible and needed another rebuilding effort to undo what Krause did with the first one. That is the most glaring example of a management decision ruining a title team and running it into the ground.

      • Dec 21, 20111:05 pm
        by Dan Feldman


        That was me, and like Patrick said, I definitely didn’t call anyone an idiot.

        More examples:

        The Miami Heat, who went 15-67 two years after winning the title. They traded Antoine Walker, arguably their third-best player, for Ricky Davis. They let James Posey, one of their top defenders, walk away, and they failed to replace the retiring Gary Payton.

        The Los Angeles Lakers, who went 34-48 a year after making the Finals. They traded away Shaq, traded the pick that became Rajon Rondo for Chris Mihm and Chucky Atkins. To upgrade the next year, they traded for Kwame Brown and signed Chucky Atkins.

        The Detroit Pistons, who fell to 50 to 48 to 40 to 20 wins after winning their second title. They failed to turn over quality players like Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre and Vinnie Johnson. They traded their top player at the time, Dennis Rodman, for a half season of Sean Elliot. They gave Orlando Wooldridge big money.

  • Dec 20, 20117:28 pm
    by frankie d


    while i like stuckey and think he can be a valuable piece of a very good team, he is talented enough to probably bring a decent big guy in return.
    i’ve always thought his best position was as a jason terry type combo scoring guard. but with a player like austin daye on teh team, you really don’t need stuckey.
    i just hope joe does what he hasn’t done recently: that he trades some of his talent for players who can help the team.

  • Dec 20, 20117:36 pm
    by Laser


    Also, Jason Maxiell is not an amnesty candidate. A “candidate” is defined as a person who is deserving of or seems destined for a certain end or fate. By nobody’s standards is Max deserving of that fate. Consider this: Rip is sitting on our books at 110% of Max’s contract while he plays for the Bulls for the next two years. In other words, we’d objectively be better off amnestying that dead money, since it’s sitting on the books accomplishing nothing, where Max is collecting less money while being able to contribute (however little you think of his game). So if you’re going to WASTE that amnesty clause on Max for no reason whatsoever, you may as well have just used the damn thing on Rip and wiped him off the books. Think about it.

    I’m all for passionate arguments and holding tight to one’s beliefs, but once in a great while someone can just be wrong and have an argument with literally no legs. I would have argued that Ben Gordon was a prohibitive favorite to be our amnesty candidate, given the size and length of his contract as compared to the size and length of his little body. I don’t think it was ever worth discussing beyond that, but God knows I’d also pay money out of my own pocket to have Charlie V off the team (even though there are reports that he has trade value). Even Rip made SOME sense, if there was actually any use for the cap space he’d create (and if amnesty frontrunner Ben Gordon had already died in a fire), even though in 66 games his expiring nightmare of a contract would become an asset. Max was never anything close to an amnesty candidate in my eyes, given those other guys. And now that Rip’s corpse is on our books collecting dust for more than Max’s salary, we finally get to enjoy an objective, inarguable truth in this comments section: Jason Maxiell is not an amnesty candidate.

    • Dec 21, 201112:18 am
      by Dan Feldman


      I’m almost certain the Pistons can’t amnesty Hamilton’s buyout.

      Maxiell is a candidate because the Pistons have to pay the amnestied player’s salary. Once you amnesty a player, that salary is locked in. Amnestying Maxiell is low risk, because he’s set to be paid the least of the three.

      • Dec 22, 20114:40 pm
        by Laser


        not saying they could amnesty the buyout. just saying the buyout is more of a drag on our books than maxiell, so amnestying maxiell is out of the question. joe could have simply amnestied rip instead, leaving less money on the books and a rotation quality player on the roster. in other words: if they were going to amnesty maxiell, they should have just amnestied rip in the first place. since they did not amnesty rip, amnestying maxiell is completely out of the question.
        buying out rip and subsequently amnestying maxiell is objectively worse for the team than simply amnestying rip in the first place.

        • Dec 26, 20117:13 pm
          by Dan Feldman


          “buying out rip and subsequently amnestying maxiell is objectively worse for the team than simply amnestying rip in the first place.”

          Here are the real-dollar costs for each scenario:

          Buying out Rip plus amnestying Maxiell: $20 million
          Amnestying Rip plus buying out Maxiell: $28 million

    • Dec 21, 201112:12 pm
      by frankie d


      gordon and CV are the clear candidates for amnesty, but are not likely to be amnesited simply because of the incredible embarrassment it would cause the guy who signed them: joe d.
      imho, CV is the better candidate because he can’t play.  i find it hard to believe that he has much trade value, despite reports to the contrary.  remember, milwaukee didn’t want that clown back when he was a free agent, and then joe inexplicably doubled his salary with his free agency contract.  i doubt that his market value has risen.  hopefully, i am  wrong.
      i still think that gordon, in the proper role, can perform as he previously had performed.  shooters typically do not lose their shot.  gordon’s problem is the same as the problem rip suffered through here: no defined role, not enough minutes.  and because he is the type of player who fits into a role, as opposed to being a guy who can just go out and get 25 points on his own, his lack of a defined role and regular minutes has been devastating to his game.  place him back in a situation with a decent point guard where he is playing 30 minutes, with the same guys who know how he plays, then i think he’ll be fine.

  • Dec 20, 201110:59 pm
    by inigo montoya


    Some facts are needed here,

    Starting with Stuckey’s last season PER of 18.46, placing him tied for 46th best of all players.  The 46th highest paid player in the NBA last season was paid $11 million.
    (Stuckey’s PER was 11th among point guards, Billups was 10th with a PER of 18.78,  (Billups averaged 6 assists per 36 minutes, same as Stuckey and Billups played on faster paced teams and was passing to Carmelo all season.)

    As far as the options go

    1. Underperformance relative to contract:  That is never good, and really is independent of whether you are overpaying for other players on the team.  Given that Stuckey was rated by ESPN around the 100th best player in the NBA and the 100th highest paid player was paid around $7 million last year, Stuckey was underpaid last year and does not hardly have to improve at all to justify his salary.

    2. Overperformance:  This is good.  But what about the fact that after 3 years you have to overpay him to stay.  Nonsense.  If starting in his last year of his contract Stuckey does not want to sign an extension, you trade him.  There will be no shortage of trade partners if Stuckey overperforms his contract.

    3. Stuckey earns his money.  That really is not bad either, each side is getting fair value. Should be easy to trade him if the team needs other assets.

    As far as paying non-all stars $10 million per year, that is standard in the NBA.  If you are an all star, chances are pretty good you are getting paid $15 million or more per year.

    Also as far as Stuckey being an all star, Stuckey was the only non all star to make more FT’s than the next 2 highest players on their teams.  Though that stat maybe says more about the rest of the team than it does Stuckey.

    • Dec 21, 201112:32 am
      by Dan Feldman


      Excellent comment, Really interesting stuff.

      “Starting with Stuckey’s last season PER of 18.46, placing him tied for 46th best of all players.  The 46th highest paid player in the NBA last season was paid $11 million.”

      I think PER overrated Stuckey last year. Do you really believe he was the 46th-best player in the league?

      We’re on the same page with 2 and 3. With 1, I think what you’re paying other players does matter. If you have other players with negative values, trades become exponentially more difficult. You simply run out of players to include in deals who are both appealing to the other team and not part of a core untradeable group.

      I have no problem with paying a non-All-Star $10 million per year, but giving that to someone who hasn’t proven he’s an above-average starter is probably a mistake.

      And I agree, the free-throw stat probably says more about his teammates.

      • Dec 21, 20117:30 am
        by detroitpcb


        “The free throw stat says more about his teamamtes” Feldman have you ever watched a game in your life?

        Stuckey is one of the most difficult players in the league to stop when he goes to the basket and that is his favorite thing to do. He gets calls because he is so strong. Stuckey’s teammates have nothing to do with his going to the line. That is Stuck’s game. I am sure that is exactly what Frank sees in Stuckey and exactly what he wants Stuckey to continue to do. Players that go to the free throw line 10 times a game are rare.

        you are a dimwit.

  • Dec 21, 20119:36 pm
    by John


    1. If he underperforms his contract will still have some value when it expires, and as has been pointed out earlier his PER is actually fairly impressive. At this rate the pistons can move him and he isn’t paid enough to cripple them if they can’t.

    2. he over performs the pistons have the longest window to re-sign him if this is the case, the new sign trade rules (come into effect 2 years from now?) make the bird rule more attractive, and his contract will be easy to move if it becomes apparent that he won’t re-sign (though they might not get maxium value at that point). What it really comes down to is how much he overperforms it, and with CV and Gordon being close to off the books at that point they should have enough cap room to re-sign him, and look for another good piece depending on the situation. 

    3. he plays to the value of the deal. This is possible but I tend to think with stuckeys talent he is either gonna overperform it or underperform it mainly based on whether he can develop a jumper or not. Either way the backcourt will be a lot more settled by that point and detriot can do whats best for them at the time.

    Personally I think this deal could work out well for the pistons I don’t think Curry or Kuester really did much to help stuckey and I think Frank can make him quite a bit better, and winning solves a lot of problems. I think rushing to the conclusion that we should trade him isn’t wise because bad teams shouldn’t rush to improve because a lot of the times you end up with guys like Gordon and CV and don’t improve

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