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Archive → September, 2012

Slava Kravtsov shows Joe Dumars hasn’t forgotten how to mine an untapped market

Me at the Free Press:

Early in his tenure as Detroit Pistons general manager, Joe Dumars made what looked like one of his most inconsequential moves: trading two second-round draft picks for the rights to Zeljko Rebraca in 2001.

Rebraca had been drafted seven years earlier, by the Seattle SuperSonics, traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves and then to the Toronto Raptors. For those seven years, he resisted NBA offers and remained in his native Europe, where he was successful on the court and paid well.

But Dumars convinced Rebraca to sign with Detroit, making the Yugoslavian a 29-year-old NBA rookie. Rebraca became a reliable low-post threat off the bench as the Pistons won a playoff series for the first time in 11 years.

What made acquiring Rebraca so brilliant was how Dumars tapped into an underutilized market. Every year, plenty of teams need centers, but how many general managers did their due diligence on Rebraca in 2001? Dumars did, and he was rewarded.

Dumars has made another understated move this off-season that, hopefully, will pay similar dividends: signing Slava Kravtsov.

New York Post reports Isiah Thomas being considered for studio analyst role at ESPN

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post:

Isiah Thomas , who had an undistinguished run as an NBA in-game analyst with NBC — and as a Knicks’ exec was successfully sued for sexual harassment — is a candidate for a studio position with ESPN.

Now, full disclosure, I don’t read Mushnick because he’s … well … the worst. But he has reported on the sports news media for a long time, so there’s probably some credibility to the report. I remember when Thomas worked for NBC. As ex-jocks-turned-broadcasters go, Thomas was pretty solid. He certainly has the charisma and on-camera presence to succeed. And failings as a team executive don’t necessarily mean someone can’t succeed in broadcasting, as a certain former Detroit Lions general manager will attest.

Hat tip Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk

Khris Middleton’s contract guarantees more money than Kim English’s, 15 Pistons fully guaranteed for upcoming season

ShamSports.com updated its Pistons salary page (something I plan to do here shortly, too), and I see two interesting tidbits:

1. Both Kim English and Khris Middleton signed minimum contracts, but English’s is only two years and fully unguaranteed for 2013-14. Middleton’s is three years, fully guaranteed for 2013-14 and fully unguaranteed for 2014-15. The Pistons even had to crack into their mid-level exception to give Middleton a deal longer than two years (which doesn’t matter much, because they weren’t using their full MLE this summer, anyway). Good on Middleton’s agent, Michael Lindeman.

2. All 15 Pistons have fully guaranteed contracts for 2012-13. I know many, including myself, were hoping that Terrence Williams (or, I guess, Jonny Flynn) could outperform Middleton and take his roster spot. No knock to Middleton, but if Williams (or, I guess Flynn) proved enough to bump a player the Pistons drafted No. 39, that would be a positive sign for Williams (or, I guess, Flynn). It could still happen, but it would cost Tom Gores $463,604 for Middleton’s contract plus likely $854,389 for Williams’. Sticking with Middleton would cost only the $463,604 he’s owed.

Pistons to hold open practice at Oakland University Oct. 6

Via the team’s Facebook page:

Get a look at the Detroit Pistons before they kick off the 2012-13 season with open practice on Saturday, October 6! The practice will take place at the O-Rena at Oakland University with pre-scrimmage festivities beginning at 11 a.m. You can meet the Pistons entertainment teams and enter to win VIP experiences and other cool prizes. Then, check out the team’s open practice and scrimmage from 12 – 1 p.m. Admission is free, but space is limited.

I’ve been to and written about a couple of these over the last few seasons, one at Oakland and one at the Palace. And although the space is limited at Oakland, it was better for fans than the one at the Palace because you’re closer to everything and can hear what’s going on on the court better. But maybe I just liked the one at Oakland better because Rasheed Wallace was there. Hard to tell.

There will (finally) be a documentary about Dennis Rodman

Detroit Pistons Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman has long been one of the most unique individuals associated with the NBA. And finally, his story will be told in film form, made by famous director and famous NBA fan Penny Marshall. From Marshall Heyman of the Wall Street Journal:

Lately, she has been working on a documentary about the basketball player Dennis Rodman, some of which she has been shooting via Skype. That came up because a) Ms. Marshall is a big sports fan. (“You can yell and scream at a game and no one’s taking you away in a white coat.”) And b) “I have a little radar to the insane,” she said. “They seek me out. Dennis and his agent asked if I would do a documentary.”


Looking back on Jerry Stackhouse’s 1999-00 season for the Pistons

One of my favorite things about SLAM is when the website digs into the magazine articles and re-publishes stories from the past. They recently did so with a profile by Michael Bradley of then-Piston Jerry Stackhouse’s breakout 1999-00 season:

Whatever the reason, we saw a new Jerry Stackhouse in ’99-00. Not only did he assume the role of team spokesman, a job Hill was no doubt pleased to cede, (particularly with all the rumors flying around about his future), but Stack also started putting up the kind of rip-roarin’ numbers that were expected from him when he came into the League. He averaged 23.6 ppg, up nearly 10 from his shaky ’99 performance. His rebounding figure (3.8 rpg) was a career high, and he actually passed the ball, something that hadn’t ever been a big part of his repertoire, despite his protests to the contrary. In short, Stackhouse became a full-fledged NBA scoring machine, lethal in the open court, strong in the mid-range and excellent from the foul line. Oh, there is still that minor problem with three-point shooting (28.8 percent?? Blecchh!!!), but we’re not going to talk about that, Jerry. We will, however, mention your 14 games of 30 or more points, including a career-high 40 spot against Denver. And we won’t forget about the 11 points you scored in the All-Star game. Or the 11 assists you handed out against Golden State back in December.

Most Pistons fans remember Stackhouse’s 2000-01 season, after Grant Hill left as a free agent, when Stack’s 29.8 points per game average and pursuit of the scoring title was the most interesting news to come out of a rebuilding season, but his 99-00 season playing next to Hill was really good too. He shot the ball better and wasn’t forced into taking as many bad shots as he had to the following season, since the Pistons had no other reliable scoring option.

Jonny Flynn coming to Pistons training camp

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Source: PG Jonny Flynn will be in #Pistons camp, along with Terrence Williams.

Flynn has has been pretty bad as an NBA player, but there was a reason the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him No. 6 overall into 2009. Maybe that’s because David Kahn is a moron, or maybe Flynn, still just 23, has some untapped potential.

For the mere price of a training-camp contract, it’s worth it for the Pistons to find out – even though I think Terrence Williams is much more likely to steal a spot on an already full roster.

New York Knicks reportedly considering bringing Rasheed Wallace out of retirement

Remember when Rasheed Wallace was working out at the Pistons practice facility a couple weeks ago, and every Wallace fan, myself included, thought, ‘Man, the NBA was a more interesting place with Rasheed Wallace in it?’ Well, everyone rooting for another Wallace appearance could get their wish according to ESPN’s Ric Bucher:

Adding ‘Sheed to what will already be a circus of a team in New York this season? Yeah, I’d watch that.

Former Piston Isiah Thomas doing his part to help fight violence in his native Chicago

Most who follow national news are surely familiar with the awful, record-setting violence being experienced in the city of Chicago this year. Former Pistons and native Chicagoan Isiah Thomas is trying to do his part to fight that. From Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago:

“Ninety to 95 percent of the people who are living in poverty in those situations, they’re kids going to schools, their parents are doing the right things,” Thomas said. “There’s a community of the church, community of aunts and uncles who are about contributing positively to society.

“Now there is a fraction to be addressed, and we need to address that small minority that is in need and is doing harm to the community. We are all affected by it personally.”

Thomas isn’t just saying Chicago needs help, he’s also trying to provide it. He has teamed up with St. Sabina on the South Side and father Michael Pfleger to create the PEACE basketball tournament, which will unite rival gang members through basketball in hopes of ceasing the violence between them. The tournament will be held at St. Sabina’s gymnasium from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

At this point, from a basketball perspective, Thomas will always be a polarizing figure for a variety of reasons, some fair, some unfair. But off the court, he’s easily one of the most complex, interesting people to ever play the sport.

Andre Drummond, Darko Milicic and playing right away

In Jim Cavan’s New York Times article that I linked earlier, Cavan made an interesting comparison between Darko Milicic and Andre Drummond. Now, the immediate reaction to that sentence probably caused a negative vision in your minds simply because of how Milicic’s career has turned out. Cavan, however, was simply comparing the fact that Drummond is the first Pistons rookie since Milicic to have such an incredibly high ceiling mixed with some significant unknowns.

With Milicic, as we know, the Pistons buried him on the bench early, his confidence suffered and he never amounted to much more than an occasionally warm body who can block a shot or two in his NBA career. Writing for the Detroit Free Press today, I stated my belief that Drummond needs to play early and often, even if that means he struggles:

The Pistons have veteran players like Maxiell, Jerebko and Wallace if he returns capable of playing competent frontcourt minutes for any NBA team. But none of those players, either individually or as a combination, taking the bulk of minutes next to Monroe would be enough to make the Pistons a playoff team next season. Their best hope to accomplish that goal lies in whether Drummond is ready to be a game-changing presence, at least on defense, very early in his career.