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Archive → February, 2012

Brandon Knight has changed Rodney Stuckey’s mindset for the better

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News wrote a fantastic article on Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight that, even a few days late, is still worth reading:

basketball has seemed like a chore to Stuckey. He didn’t really enjoy the game. After all, nobody likes losing and combined with the turmoil he had a part in last season, it’s easy to see why there wasn’t much to smile about.

He was at odds with previous coach John Kuester, and there seemed to be two different yet distinctive teams in the Pistons locker room last season.

But Knight seems to have lit something inside Stuckey — in a positive way. He readily admits Knight has had an effect on him.

But there’s a more positive spirit, an infectiousness Knight has carried with him since arriving here. Knight is enthusiastic while not being braggadocios or disrespectful. It can’t help but permeate the rest of the team.

Perhaps Knight showed Stuckey how to be a consummate professional, simply with his work ethic.

"He’s a lot happier, and I think everybody can see it," one teammate said about Stuckey.

Stuckey speaks of Knight in a big-brother type of way, one that’s surprising considering Stuckey has seemingly shied away from being a leader.

Stuckey has already planned to workout  with Knight this summer. The pair has played pretty well together this season, even if Knight’s heavy minutes put more on Stuckey’s plate. Now it makes a little more sense why Stuckey hasn’t complained about that. Hopefully, the duo continues to grow together.

Jason Maxiell accepts blame for previous struggles

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

For all the griping about Q, Max blames himself for inconsistent play last two season. #grownup.

No Piston has surpassed my expectations this season more than Jason Maxiell. For the last couple years, his play suffered because of his weight. Now in shape, Maxiell is playing reasonably well. As he apparently understands, he deserves blame and praise for both.

Pistons and Raptors neared draft-day trade that could’ve involved Brandon Knight, Jonas Valanciunas and two others

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

#Raptors get Valanciunas, plus lottery pick. Remember draft night: Joe D said he was on phone w/Raps when Cavs shocked by taking TThompson 4

#Raptors #Pistons had deal near, one for one, plus swap of 5th, 8th picks. Likely Pistons would have Valanciunas in Europe, Raps B Knight

I was a big Jonas Valanciunas fan, so I can’t read these tweets without wishing the trade had occurred. I struggle to figure how Tristan Thompson going to Cleveland at No. 4 affected the Pistons-Raptors trade, though.

Maybe the Raptors thought Valanciunas, their desired target, wouldn’t be available at No. 5 while they were negotiating with Detroit. If that were the case, and Langlois is correct that the Pistons wanted to trade up to draft Valanciunas, the trade never would have occurred. Either Valanciunas would have been available at No. 5 and the Raptors would have rejected the deal, or Valanciunas wouldn’t have been available at No. 5 and the Pistons would have rejected the deal.

Maybe Toronto thought the Bobcats would’ve taken Thompson at No. 7, and with Thompson off the board, Charlotte might take Knight. Then, Toronto wouldn’t get Knight at No. 8. That scenario is a bit more complicated, but it would at least make the trade viable.

As far as the players involved – one from each team, according to Langlois – using the Pistons’ and Raptors’ salaries at the time, here are the possibilities:

  • Richard Hamilton: None
  • Ben Gordon: Jose Calderon
  • Charlie Villanueva: Andrea Bargnani , Leandro Barbosa,* Amir Johnson , Linas Kleiza, DeMar DeRozan , Jerryd Bayless , Ed Davis, James Johnson , Solomon Alabi
  • Jason Maxiell: Amir Johnson , Linas Kleiza, DeMar DeRozan , Jerryd Bayless , Ed Davis, James Johnson , Solomon Alabi
  • Will Bynum: DeMar DeRozan , Jerryd Bayless , Ed Davis, James Johnson , Solomon Alabi
  • Greg Monroe: DeMar DeRozan , Jerryd Bayless , Ed Davis, James Johnson , Solomon Alabi
  • Ben Wallace: DeMar DeRozan , Jerryd Bayless , Ed Davis, James Johnson , Solomon Alabi
  • Austin Daye: Jerryd Bayless , Ed Davis, James Johnson , Solomon Alabi
  • Terrico White: None

*Barbosa would have had to agree not to opt out of his contract. Given that he ultimately accepted the final year of his contract, this probably would have happened.

I hope it was: Gordon-for-Calderon. Maybe the Raptors would’ve considered that trade if it coincided with drafting Knight, but I don’t know why Toronto would trade down just to make an, at best, questionable player swap work.

I hope it wasn’t: Monroe-for-Davis. Davis was my guess for the Pistons’ draft pick two years ago if the Warriors took Monroe instead of Ekpe Udoh, and Monroe’s offensive game hadn’t yet blossomed.

If I had to guess: Daye-for-Alabi. Really, I have no clue. I don’t see a great match.

Robert Horry talks about ‘the shot’ and playing defense against Rasheed Wallace

I don’t know if there are any names in Pistons history who bring up the kind of pain that Robert Horry does. The man who was close to becoming a Piston until the Houston Rockets bothered to check out Sean Elliott’s medical history came back to haunt the franchise about a decade later with a gut-punching shot and performance in game six five of the 2005 NBA Finals. I can’t rehash it more than that here, it’s too painful to think about.

But, for the people who love misery out there, Horry was a guest on Bill Simmons’ B.S. Report Friday and talked about that shot against Detroit and why it’s possibly the most memorable of his career.

The talk isn’t all depressing, though. He also is highly complimentary of Rasheed Wallace and calls him one of the most difficult players to defend that he ever faced. The podcast link is here and Horry starts talking about the shot and ‘Sheed around the 13 minute mark.

The Basketball Jones recalls former Piston Jerry Stackhouse’s funny dunk contest moment

I remember being super pumped about Jerry Stackhouse being in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest. We’ve watched some decent Pistons dunkers over the years, but very few guys — Stackhouse, Grant Hill and maybe a couple others — who were legitimately athletic enough to compete for a Slam Dunk Title. I had high hopes for Stackhouse who, at one time, before re-inventing himself as more of a spot-up shooter and role player late in his career, was one of the best athletes in the league. Unfortunately, he happened to be in the dunk contest the same year that Vince Carter was still Half Man/Half Amazing Vince Carter and put on one of the finest displays in dunk contest history (and gave us the classic ‘it’s ova’ moment/GIF). Trey Kerby at The Basketball Jones explains how Stackhouse had a bit of an unlucky draw in who he had to follow:

This right here is my personal funniest moment in the history of All-Star Weekend. You can keep Chris Andersen’s botched dunk contest attempts, the Michael Jordan’s wide-open missed dunk and the time Darrell Armstrong shot a layup in the dunk contest. I’ll take Jerry Stackhouse, in the midst of his best season, confidently throwing down a 360 immediately after Vince Carter’s legendary 360. Whoops …

The best part, however, is Jerry’s strut after throwing down his jam. He grabs the ball and walks towards the scoring table confidently, surely thinking to himself, “I nailed it. Nice one, Jer-Bear.” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, he’s getting killed by the TNT guys and seeing the honorary title of next best UNC shooting guard be given to Vince Carter.

Greg Monroe has one of the best highlights of All-Star Weekend

Sorry for getting this up a bit late, but I was on my All-Star Break too this weekend. Greg Monroe pulled off one of the best moments of the weekend, baiting John Wall into attempting a highlight dunk only to sneak in and throw the ball away. Don’t worry, Wall pulled off the move he wanted to do later and wasn’t super upset about it (although the crowd certainly was), via Royce Young and Ben Golliver of CBS Sports:

Wall was able to laugh it off too, although he said he has plans to get revenge when the Wizards host the Pistons on Mar. 26.

“It’s just fun. Don’t get mad at him for it. He did it so I’m going to try to dunk on him when we play them… It was funny. I was going to try something else but he took it away from me. The crowd didn’t like it. You get a little upset but it’s an All-Star Game. We’re having fun. You just let it go.”

As the players filed into post-game media availability, Monroe ran ahead of the pack to snag a Gatorade bottle that had been placed on the table of New Jersey Nets guard MarShon Brooks.

“Are you going to steal that too?” Brooks asked, incredulous.

Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and the 1991 NBA All-Star Game

One of the most sobering moments I’ve had as a sports fan was Magic Johnson’s sudden retirement and announcement that he was HIV positive in 1991. I was only 11 at the time, and sports stars like Johnson were still super heroes to me. It was hard to fathom him announcing that he was afflicted with a virus that so many were terrified of and so few truly understood.

I wasn’t really old enough to understand the scope of what was happening, but I do remember the fears expressed by some, particularly Karl Malone, when Johnson was voted into the 1992 All-Star Game despite his retirement. SLAM posted a cool reflection on that game, and one of Johnson’s biggest advocates was Pistons legend Isiah Thomas:

Isiah Thomas (All-Star, Detroit Pistons): I remember Karl Malone being very vocal and a couple of other All-Stars. At that time, I was the president of the Player’s Association so I called a special meeting where I told everyone that not only was Magic going to play, but also we were all going to line up and embrace him. At the time, my brother was HIV-positive, so I was very well aware of the disease. I understood that it couldn’t be transmitted through touching.

Along the way, something definitely happened that soured the friendship between Thomas and Johnson, but I remember Isiah’s public stance at the time and it’s still one of the reasons I have a lot of respect for Thomas despite how fantastically bad his post-playing career has gone.

Detroit legend Mel Daniels will be in the Hall of Fame

OK, so Mel Daniels wasn’t ever a Piston, but the Detroit Pershing product is absolutely a notable and often overlooked name in the great basketball history of this state. Daniels was a great player in the ABA, mostly with the Indiana Pacers, but his because he spent his prime years in the ABA as opposed to the NBA, his greatness is often forgot about. He’ll get his due this year though, as the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Daniels will be this year’s ABA Committee direct selection. From the press release:

MEL DANIELS [Player] – Daniels is one of the most dominating big men in the history of the American Basketball Association (ABA) as the league’s all-time leading rebounder (9,494) and fourth all-time leading scorer (11,739).  A two-time league MVP in 1969 and 1971, he was a seven-time ABA All-Star and a member of three ABA championship teams with the Indiana Pacers, now of the NBA.  He was selected as a member of the ABA 30-Man All-Time team.  In college, Daniels starred for the University of New Mexico, leading the Lobos in scoring for three straight seasons and was the Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player in 1967.  He was drafted ninth in the 1967 NBA Draft, but chose to go play in the ABA instead.  Following his ABA Rookie of the Year award in 1968, he went on to earn All-ABA First Team four times and Second Team once.  After his professional career, which concluded as a member of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, Daniels joined the coaching staff at Indiana State, where he coached future Hall of Famer Larry Bird.  He was also a member of the Indiana Pacers front office for over 20 years.

It’s great to see another Detroit product make it into the Hall.

Should the Pistons trade Brandon Knight?

Mike Payne of Detroit Bad Boys wrote an interesting piece exploring whether the Pistons should trade Brandon Knight:

The problem is that Detroit may not want to wait four years to develop Knight, and the reasons are numerous. First, Knight may not end up being as good a point guard as Rodney Stuckey was last year. The Pistons have Stuckey on contract for three years, so sticking to Stuck may be a wise option. Second, properly building around Monroe with immediate contributors is terribly important, lest Detroit find themselves in the position of teams like Orlando and Denver with trade demands on the wall. Last, if Knight doesn’t develop signs of a passing game in a year or two, his trade value will plummet. If he can be moved, he should be moved at the highest sign of value– which may be prior to the 2012 NBA trade deadline.

My stance on Knight hasn’t changed since the Pistons drafted him. He was the right pick, but far from a certain NBA success. He’s not immediately a productive NBA point guard, but he has the tools to get there.

So, of course, I have no problem with the Pistons trading Knight if they get a good offer. He’s done nothing to warrant being untouchable.

But I think a point that Payne’s column – well worth reading in its entirety – misses is that Knight taking time to develop might actually help the Pistons. Even if Knight hit his peak form tomorrow, I don’t think the Pistons would have enough talent to compete for a title. They’d likely need to hit again in the draft and have all their young players develop perfectly. Because the latter is extremely unlikely, barring getting Anthony Davis or someone of his caliber, they’ll probably need to hit twice in the draft.

The higher a team picks, the more likely it is to draft a good player. The worse a team plays, the more likely it is to land a high pick.

A project like Knight could keep the Pistons in the cellar long enough to secure more high draft picks, and once (if) he’s ready to contribute, ideally, the Pistons would then have enough talent to contend.

Rasheed Wallace to sign with Lakers

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com:

There’s at least one team apparently still with a need for Rasheed Wallace.

CSNNE.com has learned that the former Boston Celtic forward plans to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Same rules as always apply with Sheed: If he’s in shape and motivated, he’ll be a big help. If he’s not, he won’t.