It’s nearly been 24 hours since the three-team trade that sent Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to the Grizzlies, while Rudy Gay was sent to the Raptors and Jose Calderon to the Pistons. Whether you’re sad to see Prince — the last remaining piece from the 2004 title team — or excited to see him get out of dodge, the common feeling among fans seems to be that it was a good decision.
That’s a sentiment that seems to be shared by many in the national media, too.
Ken Berger at CBS Sports sees the potential for more trades this season. It’s been noted here and elsewhere that while Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are both potential free agents, the prospects of them actually testing the market and giving the Pistons a serious look are about as likely as, well, fans realistically thinking that either of those guys would even consider the Pistons.
The Pistons get off of Prince’s contract, which had two years and $15 million left, plus they get a short-term mentor in Calderon for Brandon Knight. Calderon’s $10.6 million expires after the season, giving the Pistons $26.5 million in expiring contracts this summer. Again, with a lean free-agent class after Chris Paul and Dwight Howard (both presumed to be staying in L.A.), the Pistons might find it more advantageous to move those contracts between now and Feb. 21 rather than wait and overpay marginal free agents. (They’ve already tried that with Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, and we all know how that went.)
Grantland’s Zach Lowe see’s it as a step in the right direction, though he hints at the Charlie Villanueva/Ben Gordon free agent splurge as a caution for this summer. He does bring up the intriguing idea of keeping Calderon around after this season if the two can come to an agreement on a reasonable contract, which would be very advantageous if Calderon thrives in these final 12 weeks.
Speaking of lottery appearances! This is the easy part: Detroit dumped a long-term salary (Prince) for a point guard who can help the rest of this season, and opened up even more cap room — and playing time — in the process. Detroit is now set to have something like $22 million in cap room this summer for any kind of max offer. The free agency market is power-forward–heavy, which means it’s not exactly teeming with the kind of player the Pistons need — a wing, any wing — but it’s always nice to have some flexibility. They have enough, in fact, that it’s not out of the realm of possibility they keep Calderon if they can settle at the right number. Brandon Knight is probably better off spending at least some time off the ball for now. Just be careful this summer, Joe Dumars.
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver grade the trade for each team, giving the Pistons a solid A, while giving the Raptors a C- and Memphis a B+ grade. He touches on the money side of things for Detroit and how this is officially Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Brandon Knights’ team now.
In all seriousness, this trade solves two key issues facing Pistons president Joe Dumars. First, his rebuilding plan around a core that includes Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight was/is being hampered by the presence of veterans such as Prince, Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey. Prince’s deal represented the biggest future salary commitment, as it runs through 2014-15 and will pay him $7.2 million next season and $7.7 million in its final year. That deal isn’t enough to drown you, but it’s enough to create some serious drag. Getting rid of it is addition by subtraction.
Oh, and like everyone else on the planet Earth, Golliver notes Dumars’ poor decision making in his last swim in the free agent pool.
It must be said: Don’t go too far overboard congratulating Dumars for undoing his own mistake with the Prince signing. Big-picture, he’s still treading water, at best, until we see how he exploits his newfound flexibility this summer.
ESPN’s Henry Abbott didn’t touch a whole lot on the Pistons’ side of things, but he’s right, Jose Calderon has always been a good NBA point guard. If you really want to get excited about what Calderon’s done in the past, go back and look at his historically efficient season in 2007-08 (he’s currently in the midst of his best season since).
It has always amazed me that more teams don’t want Jose Calderon. He’s good — in fact he has the highest player efficiency rating of any player in this trade. He would help any team.
Abbott makes an interesting point on Prince in Memphis, too. In terms of being rock-steady over the last nine seasons, there aren’t many guys who can stand up with Prince’s consistency, and going to a contending team with some really talented players taking pressure off of him, a change of scenery could be the best thing to happen to Prince since he happily waved bye-bye to John Kuester with two hands.
The first six seasons of Tayshaun Prince’s decade-plus in Detroit were incredibly exciting: Scoring monster buckets as a rookie in the playoffs, making key plays at both ends in one exciting playoff series after another, and even winning a title. The past four-and-a-half seasons, though, have been dismal. Michael Curry replaced Flip Saunders, and there were grumbles. John Kuester replaced Curry, and there was open mutiny. A contender was rebuilt around Rodney Stuckey & Co., with one title teammate of Prince’s after another shipped off or let go. Meanwhile, Detroit posted zero playoff wins in a half-decade. And through it all, Prince is a gamer. He has played long minutes and he has not mailed them in. He’s not the player he once was, but one coach after another has discovered he’s impossible to keep on the bench, even at 32.
While the playoffs are a fickle subject, depending on who you talk to, NBC Sports D.J. Foster notes that the addition of Calderon could help to seriously push the Pistons into playoff contention — led by Monroe and Drummond.
Giving Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond a taste of what it’s like to play with a real point guard will likely keep them happy for a few months, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Detroit makes a late push for the 8-seed. Regardless of that though, this trade sets Detroit up nicely going forward.
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