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Dysfunctional Pistons lose Ben Gordon trade

The Pistons are dysfunctional.

Their trade of Ben Gordon and first-round pick (lottery-protected next year, top-8 protected in 2014, top-1 protected in 2015 and unprotected in 2016) to the Bobcats for Corey Maggette practically proves that. The trade might have been necessary, but a functional franchise never would have had to make such a deal.

Joe Dumars, Tom Gores and many others might deserve blame for this trade, but it isn’t about the trade itself. And it’s certainly not about Gordon and Maggette, both of whom are practically irrelevant as basketball players when it comes to the reason this deal was made.

It’s about a culture of dysfunction.

Something is going wrong at 6 Championship Drive, and I’m not sure whether this trade will help or hurt – or even have an effect at all. The trade is a symptom, not the cause.

If you’re going to read this post it’s important you read this paragraph. There might not be a specific person to blame or a person whose firing would solve the problem (though, there might be). The Pistons operate in a complex environment, not in a vacuum where they hold complete control of their destiny. Sometimes, bad things happen for reasons outside anyone’s control. We can assess those situations without necessarily blaming a specific person for them.

I can’t, from my outsider’s perspective, pinpoint exactly where the Pistons’ dysfunction manifests itself. But I’d bet you can find at least shreds of it in these several areas:

Dysfunctional revenue streams

The Pistons ranked 28th in attendance and 30th in percentage of capacity filled last season. As terrible as those numbers are – even when you consider the periphery loss in parking, concession and other game-day revenue – the figures probably still undersell the problem.

The Palace might eliminate luxury suites, which I figured to be big revenue generators if they can be sold. But they probably can’t be sold. The Pistons are a bad and boring team playing in a state with a crumbling economy, and who would want to pay  to watch that?

Further, the Pistons’ team salary ranked in the top half of the NBA. That’s not a profitable combination.

The Pistons are selling this trade as a way to clear cap room – and it will, to the tune of $13.2 million next summer. But if cap room was the real goal, the obvious step would have been amnestying Gordon. That would clear him from the salary cap and not cost a future first-round pick.

I don’t think the Pistons could have afforded that, though.

The issue isn’t paying Gordon. That’s a sunk cost. The problem is paying his replacement. The larger the amnestied contract for a team under the luxury tax, the more that team – at least if its trying to win – will spend on a replacement. Basically, a team pays around double in real dollars for the roster slot of an amnestied player.

In short, because the Pistons can’t afford to pay an amnestied Gordon and his replacement the real dollars they’d be owed, Detroit had to offer a first-round pick to another team to pay Gordon instead.

Dysfunctional organizational structure

If the Pistons continue to miss the playoffs and ultimately send the Bobcats a high draft pick, this trade will be a colossal failure. As it stands now, I think it’s a bad deal with potential to turn out fine.

But imagine, in two or three years a Pistons team that has continued to lose and then doesn’t even get its high draft pick. That team would be in major trouble, and its general manager would be in an incredibly unenviable position.

It also might not be Joe Dumars’ problem.

Can you imagine him keeping his job if the Pistons don’t make the playoffs sooner than later? That’s why a trade like this, which clears cap room to get a proven player next summer, happens. General managers without job security, even when the best plan is patience and keeping an eye to the future, build for the present to impress their bosses and keep their jobs.

Did that happen here? I don’t know.

But if Gores pressured Dumars into a win-now or win-soon move when the apt strategy is to win later, that’s a costly threat. After all, even if Dumars isn’t around to suffer the consequences, Gores will be.

Dysfunctional players

Ben Gordon has been lousy in Detroit, and he’s not the team’s only disappointment. This is an area that might be fixed, or at least improving, but the Pistons have brought in far too many players who either aren’t good or aren’t good enough to justify their contracts.

Gordon had negative trade value, because Dumars overpaid him three years ago, and it cost Detroit a first-round pick.

The root of this issue might be complex, but the solution is not. Acquire better players on cheaper contracts, and the Pistons won’t have to make a trade like this again.

Dysfunctional locker room

Why make this trade now?

The salary relief this season is minor ($1,337,931), though perhaps Detroit’s revenue issues are so extreme that it was imperative to save that money, or perhaps they have a plan to use it this summer. If not, I see a possible reason: fear of another player rebellion.

The Pistons could have probably waited and traded Gordon and a less-enticing draft-pick sweetener at the trade deadline or next summer to a team with room to absorb his contract (likely including the Bobcats).

But Detroit clearly wants to give bigger roles to Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey next season. Would Gordon take that OK? By all reports, he’s not a troublemaker, but at one point, I never would have thought Richard Hamilton would lead the revolt he did.

The Pistons’ locker-room dynamics appeared to be improved last season, but perhaps the situation was more fragile than I realized. How would Gordon have reacted if he wasn’t receiving consistent playing time? Maybe the Pistons didn’t want to find out after getting stung by Hamilton when presenting him with a reduced role.

Dysfunctional sense of self-worth

The Pistons must believe they’ll make the playoffs next season to make this trade, and they should think they have a good chance of winning a round if they were willing to draw the protection line at 14.

I just don’t see it.

The Pistons certainly have a realistic shot at the postseason, with Greg Monroe and Knight improving. But they’re still relying on young players who haven’t proven they can be steady two-way contributors.

Detroit made the same mistake of overvaluing its roster last offseason, when it quickly re-signed Tayshaun Prince and Jonas Jerebko just so they could practice more with Lawrence Frank. The Pistons were more than a few practices from the playoffs last year, and though they might be closer next year, I’d call the odds of them making the post-season 50-50 at best.

Dysfunctional understanding of NBA economics

The two best contracts in the NBA are rookie-scale contracts and max contracts. That’s because those are the types of deals that the the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement artificially depresses by rule. On an open market, first-round picks and elite players would command much more money than they’re making now.

The Pistons just dumped a future rookie-scale contract for cap room to pursue players in free agency, the mode of player acquisition where teams overspend with the money they save on rookie and max contracts. The last time the Pistons took this path ended with Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

The next go-around in free agency won’t necessarily go as poorly as 2009, but the system is set up for teams to overpay. It doesn’t appear Dumars – who bucked the odds by signing Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups to contracts that paid far less than their value – understands this.

For a long time, I planned to write a post about the end of the Gordon/Villanueva era – and fantasized about writing it sooner than later. As sad as it sounds, the $95 million men define this period of Pistons basketball. Now, even if the Pistons amnesty Villanueva tomorrow, that post can’t yet come.

As that first-round picks hangs in limbo between Detroit and Charlotte – maybe even longer if the eventually drafted player does well for Bobcats– the Pistons are still operating in the shadow of July 1, 2009. That day wasn’t the start of the Pistons’ dysfunction, but it might be the catalyst that got us here.

At this point, I don’t know who or what is steering the ship or whether the current regime is just along for the ride until past mistakes clear themselves up. But for the time being, the dysfunction still reigns.


  • Jun 27, 20126:37 am
    by Derek


    I’m on the opposite side of the coin Dan.  From my perspective this trade is very good for the Pistons.  Dumars made some mistakes and was not in a position to correct those mistakes with the previous ownership situation.  Now he has moved a good player who didn’t fit in the direction we were going.  More importantly, he moved a really big contract that  saved the franchise $15 million dollars.

    With Maggette we have additional trade flexibility to move his expiring to get some pieces that fit as well and it allows us to locked down Moose for a longer contract.  I don’t see dysfunction, I see hope peeking through the dark clouds of some bad years.  We have some other moves to make, the first of which kicks off Thursday.  We need to make the right choice.  Get the frontcourt player that compliments Moose. 

    Get the PG or combo who will fit into a three guard system with Stuckey and Knight.  Get another big or wing player with the 44th selection.

    Bottomline, git ‘er done. 

    • Jul 5, 20123:37 pm
      by Steve


      I agree Derek now with the cap space and Maggette’s expiring contract he can be used as trade bait for someone looking to clear cap room!  We could land the small forward we need to take us over the top!  I believe our front court is set with drummond, monroe and Krovtsov(potential)!  Get the three we need and we will build to huge potential!

  • Jun 27, 20126:41 am
    by Eric


    The Pistons are trying to get rid of the dead weight on this roster.  This years free agency crop isn’t good, next year has the likes of Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, and others.  Who knows if the plan is to sign a good free agent this time around, but that should be the plan.  I don’t think amestied Gordon because they ween’t going to be able to trade Villanueva, amesty Villanueva and Joe Dumars can get rid of both mistakes he had, lets just hope it doesn’t lead to more mistakes next summer.

    I have been on the band wagon for Jeremby Lamb, while everyone keeps talking about drafting a big at #9.  Lamb is the best scorer in the draft, who ever doesn’t draft him will miss out.

  • Jun 27, 20126:46 am
    by Tom Y.


    It could also be the first of several moves. Let’s wait for the draft and see. Until then, I think the negativity is a little premature. But I do like your point about the value of different contracts.

  • Jun 27, 20126:51 am
    by Keith P.


    “The two best contracts in the NBA are rookie-scale contracts and max contracts. That’s because those are the types of deals that the the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement artificially depresses by rule. On an open market, first-round picks and elite players would command much more money than they’re making now.”

    This is entirely dependent on the ‘player’ skill level. Rashard Lewis on a max contract is a crap contract. Hasheem Thabeet on a rookie contract is a crap contract.

    While cap flexibility is ultimately only as valuable as the GM makes it by spending it wisely, gaining cap flexibility is the surest way to add the veterans needed to compete for a championship — in both free agency and trades.

    We have a couple young players that appear to have the ability to grow into long-term starters in Monroe and Knight. Stuckey is a year or two from being considered a seasoned player at his peak. In order to save ourselves from becoming the TWolves, or the Clippers prior to this last season, we need to focus on building around the youth that we have and putting them in the best position to succeed. Continuously plugging in lottery picks rarely makes a team a winner. And it’s not like we’re forsaking adding via the draft because of this move. We should add a decent role player this year, whoever that may be. Likely we’ll add another next year.

    This trade isn’t necessarily good or bad. It merely directs the Pistons more toward picking up Free Agents in the next couple years as opposed to fishing for talent in the lottery.

    **Disclaimer: As happy as I am with the move, and I am happy with it, I’m also a little scared that Dumars ends up repeating the Gordon/Villanueva signing extravaganza with this newly acquired flexibility.

  • Jun 27, 20126:58 am
    by Eric


    Amnesty Villanueva.  Draft a solid player in the first round.  Go all in for next year to get a free agent, I would be looking at Josh Smith at this point next summer.

    Playing a lot of young players this year I think we could struggle, but could land us a top pick next year, lottery protected.

    Draft a good player this year, draft a high pick next year, sign Josh Smith next year.  The Pistons might have some direction then.

  • Jun 27, 20127:04 am
    by Josh


    This trade most likely means avoiding PJ3 come draft time. I know we all want bigs but don’t we surprised if we end up with a Beal, Lamb, Waiters or a Rivers.

  • Jun 27, 20127:55 am
    by Vince


    I honestly don’t understand why people are annoyed with this trade. I’d rather have Maggette as a backup 3 then Wilkins, Daye days in a Pistons uniform are numbered even if Singler doesn’t return, JJ can still be a solid rotation player for the 3 and 4. It makes more sense now to draft a guard or a three in the second round. Leonard – Machado – Gordon, thats a decent draft.

  • Jun 27, 20128:21 am
    by Vic


    I actually love this trade. I think it’s competitive trade meaning that no one really knows if it’s won or lost until at least one year from now.

    I like it because it says that their playing to win.

    our 500 record at the end of last year is good evidence that we can make the playoffs this year. Cho is betting against that.

    Also they are using the euphoria of a very deep draft to sell a pic in what likely will be a very weak draft. If you look at the history of the draft there are very very few impact players out of the lottery.

    Also it let’s the league know that our front office is back in the game and sets up the next challenge- hopefully an additional trade for an additional first round draft pick this year. but even without that it just sucks up the players on our team for a better chance at success.
    It tells daye to be the shooter. It tells Monroe to become a beast and get that max contract.
    It puts the team and the front office in the trenches together and says if we don’t make the playoffs we lose.

    Like everyone else says I’m not to excited about the free agency chances to overpay a star. But that hasn’t happened yet. With this being a money driven league, there will definitely be stars available if money is available.

    And I’d we get a high upside pick this year- we will really just need space to resign our core anyway.

    • Jun 27, 20128:38 am
      by Reaction


      You do realize that most of our wins came from teams that were tanking. IE: Charlotte, Washington, New Orleans, and Cleveland. I feel like no one really realizes this. Look at our record. If we end up making the playoffs with anything like this roster, we aren’t going anywhere.

  • Jun 27, 20128:30 am
    by Vic


    Sets up

  • Jun 27, 20128:31 am
    by 1298ty


    On the bright side, we can draft a guard now! Welcome to Detroit, Jeremy Lamb..

  • Jun 27, 20128:34 am
    by Steve K


    It’s unfortunate that the trade was reported incorrectly at first. The original report had Charlotte giving up the pick. An hour later, it was revealed the Pistons were giving up the pick.

    Had I heard the correct trade news first, I’d be a bit more neutral about it. Yet, the disappointment of Joe having to trade a first round pick as penance for his horrible signing of Gordon seems a steep price.

    Dumars HAS to be betting on the Pistons making the playoffs next year. That seems a bit lofty to me.

    Now, I’m thrilled Gordon is off the team. Even if he thrives in Charlotte, it doesn’t matter. He was gonna suck as a Piston regardless. Dumping Gordon seems to be the beginning of a new era… yet couldn’t Dumars dump BG for something less a 1st rounder???

  • Jun 27, 20128:53 am
    by tads


    Hey Dan,

    I don’t comment much, but I read everything you guys write on my iphone (except a few of those second round draft dreams).  Anyways, this post seemed unfounded in a way that was uncharacteristic of this website and here’s why.

    It’s  unclear whether you’re saying the organization is knowingly dysfunctional, and trading Ben Gordon was a way to break the cycle of dysfunction, or the dysfunction is so intracted that trading Ben Gordon is merely kicking the can down the road where they will sign another bad free agent.  If you are saying the former, then trading Ben Gordon fits along the myriad of other changes going on around the Pistons that the new ownership have been spearheading.  They have turned over the organization so much that there are very few faces in the front office that old Pistons fans would recognize.  With all of this change, it doesn’t seem logical to assume that they are going to stay the same.  However, if you assume the latter, that the Pistons are merely kicking the can down the road, why would they trade Ben Gordon at all?  Why wouldn’t they wait to bundle their money to sign a free agent in the following year?  In all actuality, they could be debating about using Corey Maggette’s cap space to sign people at all, because there are other things that can be done with his contract.  With the luxury tax kicking in this year, it is possible for the Pistons to get a cheap veteran With that through trade.  This could be done either now, at the trade deadline or after the trade deadline expires by absorbing the player into our capspace.  

    Regardless of how they are trying to acquire new talent, they ARE trying to acquire new talent.  The fact that are trying implies they understand the dysfunction you speak of to some degree, and are taking steps to get back to winning.  This post reads like you’re waving the white flag and giving up on the whole organization which can’t be done regardless of how you view the trade.  It seems like you have issues with how the Pistons are run, and you’re right, they are a struggling team in a struggling market with an economy that is struggling very badly.  This trade does not need to be another opportunity to kick the organization and the local area while they are down.  It is even more damaging when you fail to acknowledge the positive effects that this trade, and all the changes that the Gores-owned Pistons Organization have made in the past year, could have in the future.

  • Jun 27, 20128:53 am
    by Lorenzo


    I think it’s a natural case of glass half full or half empty. Clearly this is only the “half way mark” in the bigger picture. Dumars has given himself the flexibility to make other moves by possibly giving up a rotation player at best (pick 15 or below)–that’s a very good thing. On the flip side if we have to give up a Top 10 pick….it turns out horrendous. Basically Joe is banking on his team making the playoffs in the next two years and being able to make further moves to better this team. As it stands right now, it’s a good move…number of factors as outlined could make this a “great” or “terrible” move.

  • Jun 27, 20128:56 am
    by Haan


    Excellent analysis, Dan.  One qualifier I’d offer concerns your final paragraph.  The converse of what you describe is that the Pistons might land in a position to make favorable trades, not necessarily because a contract’s bad but because a team needs to rebuild or because it needs to shift around its roster with an eye on a big fish. 

    Any chance that Scott Perry threw up resistance to making this kind of deal?  The timing seems odd.

  • Jun 27, 20129:03 am
    by Mike Payne


    The Pistons have been dysfunctional for years.  Today they’re slightly less dysfunctional.  I’m not sure how their dysfunction makes this a bad trade.
    It’s also not difficult to determine the source of this dysfunction.

  • Jun 27, 20129:07 am
    by Anthony Bayer


    Dan, you are absolutely right to have reservations about this trade. A team that has barely begun rebuilding giving up a number 1 draft pick just to jettison a bad player with a high salary contract? To bring in whom? It is all high risk with little reward as Corey Maggette will be 34 years old next season, and plays SF, of which we have 3 already on the team. If anything, you are being too cautious in not taking a hard line in calling this trade a lemon. Rebuilding teams need draft picks, and how many of these fans who are so in favor of it will be howling when a lottery draft pick goes to the Bobcats.

  • Jun 27, 20129:07 am
    by Ray


    First off, I want to say that was a great piece of writing, very informative.
    However, folks the bottom like we don’t even start shaking in out boots until 2015…..
    That’s 3 years from now…some of us will be dead, some will become loyal Heat and Thunder fans and deny we were ever Piston fans, or maybe we will be a legit play-off team by then.
    The reason I think its a win for us is because it shows that Dumars or who realizes its time to move to plan B or maybe its plan C or D… but we are moving on….
    Moving Gordon…also means Dumars or whoever, is going to be releasing Charlie V and probably Trading Prince…. it means the Pressure is on to build a winner by time 2015….

    Not saying this trade doesnt have its negative possibilities, but the negatives that can happen down the line does not outweight the right now positives…..

  • Jun 27, 20129:07 am
    by Vic


    Welcome Doron lamb, Kim English, or best of all Scott Machado or Jae Crowder. I hear Jae Crowder wants to be an sg anyway. He shoots the 3 well enough

  • Jun 27, 20129:08 am
    by Ballboar


    Got to move Charlie V Now! Need to get the Drama out of the locker room. Use the 9th Pick to move down to the teens if we have to. CV must go. Or look at other teams Amiested canidates.

    CV Must go Now!

  • Jun 27, 20129:20 am
    by Chris


    The sky is falling.
    You will not be able to completely judge whether this trade is good, half decent or poor for a while- it will depend on what happens in the coming days, weeks, months and following seasons. My initial response was positive. The pistons reduce commitments to contracts holding them back, save money, gain flexibility, and give up what will most probably be a mediocre draft pick. The added flexibility they gain may well make up for the pick.
    Despite what has been suggested my positive feelings are not because ‘i havent had a trade to talk about in a little while’.
    General comments that have been made ‘oh you guys might think it is good but he messed up a few years ago so it is bad’…get over it.
    Re self worth. The team needs to have self worth before it achieves anything. Self worth and high expectations are prerequisites for success. They are also prerequisites for attendence and jersey sales. People write ‘oh i dont want the pistons to be mediocre’ then they enforce these mediocre views on them- ‘the pistons shouldnt be winning games- it is bad’.
    Re being realistic- With the pick initially top 14 protected-if they make the playoffs they lose a mid level pick. If they dont make the post season next year they keep the pick and lose it the following year. I dont see what the problem is. Draft picks are not the only asset.
    Re rookie contracts being so valuable- yes they are cheaper- but have a look at the past 10-15 drafts. What is the success rate of players picked in the first round? How many get a second contract? How many make an all star game? All NBA? the playoffs? Of the few that do experience success- how many experience it with the team that drafted them? How many experience it on their cheap rookie contract? Do the odds of success decrease when picking outisde the top 14 or the top 8? Those guys that do not contribute anything still make millions of dollars. Find a reason to be happy.

  • Jun 27, 20129:20 am
    by @GPMasters


    Surely the bigger picture needs to be seen first before judging this trade, we have to hope that it’s part of a series of moves.

    Wishful thinking perhaps based on us not having made a move for 3 years until now, but overall I think we are moving in the right direction and if we can add a nice piece on Thursday I think we will be back playing .500 ball at least next year, assuming of course that the progress of last season continues at the same pace.

  • Jun 27, 20129:34 am
    by Troy


    Hollinger said this deal was a “no-brainer” from the Pistons perspective, since we now can simply amnesty Charlie V, and have as much as $20 million in cap space.

    • Jun 27, 20129:51 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      If they amnesty Villanueva, I’ll be a lot happier with the trade.

      But as Dan pointed out in the post, amnestying a player is expensive. Not only are you paying the player to go away, but you’re paying his replacement as well. If the Pistons just gave away a first round pick to get out of paying Gordon’s salary, I’m skeptical they will use the amnesty. I hope I’m wrong, because I would definitely like to see the Gordon/Villanueva era end ASAP, but from a financial standpoint, I can’t see the Pistons making that kind of investment right now.

  • Jun 27, 201210:17 am
    by DoctorDaveT


    Since this year’s pick is relatively well protected, this could be the beginning of a true youth movement. Knowing full well the Pistons lose (big?) one more year with a full press youth movement, we get one more good draft pick; maybe even a second one (because the second year is protected 1-8). But that gives the guys “Stuckey and younger” the opportunity to learn, play, and grow together. And that’s if Maggette stays on the team and CV is not amnestied.
    Now, if Maggette is the additional trade bait needed to add to both second round draft picks in order to trade up to get an additional first rounder this year, then this trade is even sweeter. However, not sure another team would do that.
    Another possibility: the Maggette contract gives us great trade leverage this year, and not next year (like BG). Add this to an amnesty of CV, and IF Mr. Gores is willing to spend, we can immediately upgrade the team.
    So, there are options. This trade can work (well) under more than one future scenario. But here’s the thing: continued poor play may mean losing a great draft pick. In order for this to work, the Pistons either need a bad year next year, or a great year next year.

  • Jun 27, 201210:24 am
    by brgulker


    Middle of the first round picks aren’t that hard to acquire. With the enormous flexibility we will have a year from now, I won’t be surprised if Dumars has acquired more than one.

    But if cap room was the real goal, the obvious step would have been amnestying Gordon. That would clear him from the salary cap and not cost a future first-round pick.

    I disagree.  It was going to take so much more than clearing Ben Gordon’s contract to restore fiscal sanity. Amnestying Ben Gordon this summer wouldn’t have given the Pistons much more than the MLE to spend, and they’d be paying BG the full amount of his contract – whatever his new contract was. From a financial standpoint, using the amnesty on him this summer would have been terrible.

    But, clearing him for an expiring contract – which may in itself have some value by the deadline as teams scramble to get under the new punitive tax – could be the first step.

    With Maggette, Max, and Daye coming off the books at season’s end, using the amnesty suddenly has value by getting dollar-for-dollar in cap room.

    If amnestying Ben Gordon for $12 million per for two years nets you an additional $3 million in cap room for one, it’s a poor choice.

    However, if amnestying Charlie V at $7.5 million for one year nets you $7.5 million in cap space in one year, it’s suddenly worth it. 

    Yeah, it sucks that Dumars built a roster as dysfunctional as it is, and yeah, it sucks he had to pay with a first to start getting out of it. But, that pick can be recouped, and more importantly, what’s the alternative? Sitting around and waiting for BG and CV to come off the books? This team wasn’t going anywhere relevant with those two clogging everything.

    Like the AI trade, we can’t judge it fully until the resources it creates are spent – however, right now, I support it 100% and think it’s the best non-draft related move Dumars has made since inking Antonio McDyess.

  • Jun 27, 201210:35 am
    by Normal 2


    hahaha..I love this Piston site.  Dan and Patrick are Like the Devil and the Angel on the piston fans shoulders.  It makes it interesting.  That’s a compliment by the way:)

    • Jun 27, 201210:58 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      I tried to tell Dan last night it wasn’t as bad as he thought. He wasn’t having it, obviously. Not that it’s a particularly good trade either, but it could become better if subsequent moves are in the works.

  • Jun 27, 201210:55 am
    by Alex


    Both of you guys are totally missing the timing aspects of this.  You complain about Dumars not having a plan, but this is the first point at which the new plan (which has to begin with unraveling the failed BG/CV plan) is becoming evident.
    For the 2012-2013 season:  BG is no big loss, since he was coming off the bench anyway, and fairly ineffectively at that.  No point in amnestying CV now, since it doesn’t get us much cap space, and no free agent in this year’s class is worth much more than the midlevel anyway, save Derron Williams.  Detroit has every incentive to play well: if they make the playoffs, great – we give a mid-level draft pick to the Bobcats and everyone is happy.  If they don’t make the playoffs, they get to keep the pick, and we get one more year in the lottery.
    For the 2013-2014 season:  We go into free agency (and this year, there is a pretty good class, including Josh Smith) with enough CAP space for a max contract, AND all of our core guys under contract: Knight, Stuckey, Prince, 9th Pick, Monroe, and Jerebko are all under contract.  The non-core guys (to be kind): Maxiel, Bynum, Daye, Magette – all come off the books.  That’s a bunch of cap space right there, and we still have the option of amnestying CV if (and only if) another $8 million would be helpful.
    So going into the 2013-2014 season, you have a core of Knight, Stuckey, Prince, the 9th pick, Monroe, Jerebko, whatever came of max-level cap space in the summer of 2013 (trade or signing from a good class).  (If we miss the playoffs in 2012-2013, add one more lottery pick into that mix as well.)  THAT’S the team we’re rolling with moving forward.  That’s the team that we want to be a playoff contender.  If it is, the mid-level draft pick is not much of a loss.  If that team _can’t_ make the playoffs, and consequently we end up losing a high pick, well yes, that sucks.  But if there is a better plan out there, I’d like to hear it.
    The best you seem to have come up with for a better plan is “wait until the trade deadline to trade Gordon – maybe you won’t have to include such a big sweetener.”  I doubt this assumption is right.  Magette is the bad player with a bad contract in this trade – the Bobcats didn’t want to pay him – they preferred to spend money on someone who actually contributed.  Gordon is wildly overpaid, but still a good player.  The first round pick was purely to get the Bobcats to take that second years of the contract, and I don’t see why the price for that would be any lower at the trade deadline.
    The other option you float – amnestying Gordon to save the draft pick, is even worse.  There would be no point to amnestying him now, when CV, JMax, Bynum, and Daye are still all on the books.  Cap space is most valuable when you get it all at once, in a summer when there are actually good free agents.
    When viewed as preparation to go all in starting in Summer 2013, this trade makes sense.  At least I haven’t seen any better options.

  • Jun 27, 201210:57 am
    by Marshall


    I think the anti-trade folks are overvaluing this draft pick significantly. I feel entirely comfortable with losing any first round pick outside the top eight. Even in this year’s relatively deep draft I’m not especially excited about any of the players available to us at nine, so if we ended up losing another pick like this one two years out, while becoming a player in a strong free agent market, I’d be very satisfied.

    Also, as fans, this trade allows us to conclusively root for our team and against tanking. It gives us a reason to feel ok about getting killed by the Heat in the first round. And it means we’re probably gonna see BG score 50 on 35 shots sometime next year.

    • Jun 27, 201211:07 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      “I feel entirely comfortable with losing any first round pick outside the top eight.”

      But that’s the point … if they don’t immediately make the playoffs and Detroit ends up losing a lottery pick, even if it’s two or three years from now, then this becomes an awful trade. For now, it’s just a salary dump. I wouldn’t call it an awful trade right now, but I also wouldn’t jump up and down and celebrate. The Pistons had to give up an asset to get out of a terrible contract. What is there to celebrate here?

      • Jun 27, 201211:54 am
        by Keith P.


        You say “even if it’s two or three years from now,” but its not “even if,” its only if. We’re not losing a lottery pick next year. We’re adding at least two more young players — this draft and next — before we actually risk losing a lottery pick. If in two years we aren’t sniffing the playoffs that we have larger problems because our core of Monroe, Knight, and Stuckey isn’t panning out.

      • Jun 28, 201212:53 pm
        by Marshall


        @Patrick, I think we have to evaluate BG as a sunk cost at this point rather than looking at his acquisition as a whole. Signing him definitely didn’t work out, but the mistake was made and now Joe D had to improvise to get the best he could out of it. So “The Pistons had to give up an asset to get out of a terrible contract. What is there to celebrate here?” That we got out of a terrible contract! And if we can perform over the next two years, that “asset” will be a mid first rounder that would have been used on a future bench player. But like everyone’s been saying, evaluating this trade will be a million times easier in three years.

  • Jun 27, 201211:20 am
    by DG


    I think the thing to celebrate here is that the Pistons finally have the ability to make moves again.  This is their first trade in three years as the franchise has been held up by the pending sale.  I think history will prove that a lot of the Pistons futility the last three years has been directly related to their inability to correct mistakes via trade or other moves that may have cost the Pistons money.

    For example, and I have nothing to base this on other than speculation, what if Joe was told by ownership that he had to spend free agent money.  Maybe Joe had intended to wait a year and collect some spinoffs from the LBJ free agency.  There were a lot of quality players trying to become free agents when LBJ was simply because  lots of teams were trying to free up money to spend.  But unfortunatelt Joe had the money a year too early.  If my memory is right Gordon was the top rated player available that year.  CV was the best remaining PF they could afford.

    It just seems that a lot of the moves they have made have been made by non-basketball people.  I’m thinking that a lot of the bad moves of late are going to historically be proven to have been madwe by ownership that did not want to, nor know how to run a franchise.

  • Jun 27, 201212:23 pm
    by rick


    I like the trade and think its being a bit overblown because Detroit can turn around and do exactly what Charlotte did to them at this years trading deadline, get a first rounder. If anything the move was precursor for things to come or Joe knows someone will be looking for a contract like this at the deadline and he can fleece them for a first rounder. Oh people forget Dallas was willing to give up their first rounder for Prince, so is it out of the realm of possibility that someone would be willing to do the same this year? So in essence is it really as bad as discussed? I mean now are we holding out hope for unknown future variables(future draft picks)? The man(Joe) got rid of a bad contract and should be given a bit of credit considering everyone around here thought BG’s contract couldnt be moved. This trade as it stands validates nothing for either side at the moment. We wont know until about two to three years down the road. Charlotte may still be building their team by then and we could possibly be a contender. It’s one pick and it’s in the future so I am not mad at all. Can’t wait til Thursday and see what the Draft brings.

  • Jun 27, 20121:05 pm
    by MarkS


    Do you think Maggette’s expiring contract could be used to trade up a few spots, possibly to Sacramento for the #5?
    John Salmons (2 yrs 16 mil approx) and the #5 pick
    Corey Maggette (exp contract) and the #9, #39, #44
    Not sure if this is enough to move up into the top 5.  Sacramento does need cap relief.  Using Maggette’s expiring contract to trade up to take a developmental prospect like Drummond could explain why Dumars made the Ben Gordon trade.  I am not a fan of trading draft picks.  This trade is probably wishful thinking.

  • Jun 27, 20125:51 pm
    by frankie d


    the players – magette and gordon -are pretty much irrelevant.
    the only real issue is whether this straight up salary dump was worth a first round draft choice?
    obviously, the real value of that choice won’t be known until charlotte cashes it in one or two or three years down the line.
    regardless, it sucks to have to give up a first rounder, any first rounder, in order to try to straighten out a mess of your own making.
    and signing BG and CV is now officially a horrible mess that joe d made.
    when i first heard the trade, it was reported as charlotte giving detroit the draft choice and i could not believe that joe d had made such a good trade.
    when i found out the true nature of the trade, it just seemed like one more instance of joe d making a mess of things.  i just wonder how many more of these screw-ups he’s going to be able to make before it costs him his job.

  • Jun 28, 20125:44 am
    by MrCarter


    How can you people be talking about drafting a gaurd when we were the worst shotblocking team in the league FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS!?!? And now with Ben Wallace gone…………..pssshh, sorry but I’m not hearing it. Nothing against Lamb but we need a defensive presence to compliment Monroe. Knight and Stuckey are our backcourt. We need help up front plain and simple.

  • Jun 28, 201210:28 am
    by Desolation Row


    This is a good trade. It puts them in a position to win more, which makes the draft pick worth less in 2-3 years. Obviously there’s no guarantee, but sometimes you have to give something away to get something in return. However, if there is no plan to amnesty CV this summer or next, then I agree it is straight up dysfunction.


  • Jun 28, 201211:28 am
    by Jon


    I have read one article on this website and it will be my last… talk about a one sided opinion.

  • Jun 28, 201212:20 pm
    by Jay d.


    I think this was a great move from the Pistons.  I think with our medical staff we can keep Corey Magette  healthy for most of the season off the bench. He is big guard/sf thats an upgrade from Wilkins. He is also a finisher at the rim and draw fouls. Also this trade might slide Daye at the 2 guard. Also we still can used Cory contract at the trade deadline for a better player. Up front i wouldnt amnesty Charlie V unless we have someone that can put up some points on or off the bench. Also what happen if we amnesty Charlie V and maxwell leaves. We will only have Greg, Jonas and ??? in the front court (maybe our first round draft pick). Also who knows if Kyle is coming back from Spain?  I think to make this all good and correct is to bring Ben Wallace back, draft Henson, and Iona guard , and maybe another big.  I think the pistons will somehow get a next year first round pick back…

  • Pingback

    Jun 28, 20123:13 pm
    by Court Vision | The Point Forward


    [...] • Safe to say Dan Feldman of the Detroit-themed blog Piston Powered isn’t thrilled with the Ben Gordon/Corey Maggette swap. [...]

  • [...] of the blog PistonPowered wrote that the deal smelled like a move that Detroit president Joe Dumars might have made with an eye toward his job security. Swapping Gordon for Maggette’s expiring deal creates major salary-cap space one year earlier [...]

  • Jun 28, 20126:32 pm
    by marko


    This writer is a joke of an apologist for Joe Dumars. The guy built a great team that was the perennial eastern conference championship contenders and even won a title. But since that title and subsequent season when they lost in the conference finals what has he done?

    Overpaying charlie v. and ben gordon is inexcusible. This move is truly god awful because they know full well they aren’t making the playoffs anytime soon and should have just amnestied him and rebuilt through the draft (you are not paying double because you won’t sign a player of that contract). They overpaid jerebko and prince. He he hired a coach that is notoriously hard on his players for a group of young guys and brought in ZERO character guys.

    This is managements and Joe Dumars fault, but mostly Joe. Don’t kid yourself into trying to play amateur psychologist and coming up with a list of other excuses. Joe Dumar has ruined this franchise as much as he helped grow it. Way to go on letting Chauncey and Rip go too.

  • Jun 29, 20121:34 pm
    by James Jones


    I was giving this article a neutral read until I saw this:
    “The Pistons are selling this trade as a way to clear cap room – and it will, to the tune of $13.2 million next summer. But if cap room was the real goal, the obvious step would have been amnestying Gordon. That would clear him from the salary cap and not cost a future first-round pick.”
    That comment proves that you can’t see past the obvious.  What do I mean?  Well using the “amnesty” on BG would clear 13.2 mill but your still stuck with CV’s horrible 8.5 million dollar contract the following year.  By not “amnestying” BG you can now amnesty CV’s contract and clear a massive 21.7 million in cap room next year.  Add that with all of the young guys we have on this team and you could have something amazing about to begin.
    I’m sorry but this was a great trade for the Pistons for that reason alone.  You can argue that this trade should have never needed to be done and I would be in your camp all day long, but this was a great, I f’ed up and now I’m fixing it trade IMO.
    Personally I’m giving Joe this one last year under new management, if he can’t make it work this year then please by all means show him the door.  His hands have been cuffed for the prior two years, you need to see if he can dig his way out now.

    • Jun 29, 20121:42 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Plan 1: Make the trade the Pistons made with Charlotte and amnesty Villanueva

      Plan 2: Trade Villanueva and a pick for an expiring contract and amnesty Gordon

      Plan 2 would require a less-valuable draft pick than Detroit sent Charlotte. Plan 2 is more expensive in real dollars. Plan 2 provides more cap flexibility this summer. Both plans provide equal cap flexibility next summer.

      • Jul 5, 20125:49 pm
        by Gary


        I don’t understand how people can say the Pistons “have barely begun rebuilding”.  Brandon Knight was one of the best rookies in the league and is 20 years old.  Greg Monroe is a future star, if not already and he is 22.  Rodney Stuckey had a breakout year and is 26.  Andre Drummond, who clearly will be a major part of the team, is 18.  If Drummond even scratches the surface of his potential, the Pistons will have a top 5 PF/C combo for years to come.  I’d be shocked if the Pistons aren’t in the playoffs next year.

  • Pingback

    Feb 21, 20149:10 pm
    by key4 geo1 | key5, geo1 | key2, geo1


    […] the time, Dan Feldman of PistonPowered.com saw Gordon’s time in Detroit as a symptom of the team’s […]

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