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Archive → May, 2013

Joe Dumars: I’ve interviewed more coaches than you know about

The Pistons, according to the Detroit Free Press and mostly reported elsewhere previously, have interviewed:

  • Nate McMillan
  • Lindsey Hunter
  • Mike Budenholzer
  • J.B. Bickerstaff
  • Brian Shaw
  • Maurice Cheeks

David Mayo of MLive:

While several of the candidates known to have been interviewed are ex-players, Dumars said the search already has exceeded that scope.

"That’s not all we’ve talked to," Dumars said. "Those are the names that you guys have gotten. But we’ve talked to a lot more than just ex-players, I’m telling you."

Of that group, only Budenholzer and Bickerstaff didn’t play in the NBA. Is Dumars referring to those two? Their interviews were widely reported, so I doubt it.

There are plenty of college coaches who didn’t play in the NBA, so I wonder whether one interviewed with the Pistons. Otherwise, I don’t have much to go on to even make guesses.

Charlie Villanueva picks up $8.5 million option

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva has picked up his $8.5-million option for next season.

That was expected. Charlie Villanueva has drastically underperformed his contract with the Pistons, and he wasn’t getting near that amount as a free agent.

Now – if money is no object – the Pistons should amnesty Villanueva. There is no argument here.

I suppose it’s possible having an $8.5 million expiring contract represents more value to the Pistons than having an extra $8.5 million in cap space (though I doubt it), but the argument could be made the Pistons could sign free agents up to the cap line, trade an $8.5 million contract for up to $12.85 million in returning salary and exceed the salary cap by more money than could by taking the straight cap-space route.

But if the Pistons want an $8.5 million expiring contract, the could amnesty Villanueva and very easily sign a better player to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. That better replacement would fetch more in a trade.

Of course, money is an object.

Amnestying Villanueva and signing a replacement to a one-year, $8.5 million contact would cost the Pistons $17 million – an $8.5 million more than just keeping Villanueva. Is that price worth it to Tom Gores? Probably not.

The Pistons should still strongly consider amnestying Villanueva, though. They aren’t forced to sign a replacement, but the cap space would be available in the event they need it.

Remember, amnestied contracts count against the payroll floor, which will be set at 90 percent of the salary cap this season. So, using last season’s salary cap of $58,044,000 for this explanation, teams that don’t use the amnesty could enter the season with a maximum of $5,804,400 in cap room. If the Pistons amnesty Villanueva, they could hold as much as $14,304,400 in cap room. That would be a major advantage in mid-season trade negotiations.

Maurice Cheeks gets second interview with Pistons

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Evidently, Mo Cheeks impressed someone during a recent phone interview with the Detroit Pistons.

The Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach and former head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers will have second interview with the Pistons today, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

First of all, apologies to the Free Press for insinuating Cheeks didn’t previously interview. Does this mean Brian Shaw has already interviewed with the Pistons, too?

As far as Cheeks, I’m not terribly enthused. He didn’t coached a winning team in his last six seasons as a head coach, seemingly bringing the mediocre out of teams good and bad. Maybe the Pistons, a bad team lately, wouldn’t mind a coach lifting them to mediocre.

But even during his first two seasons with the Trail Blazers, teams that went 49-33 and 50-32, Portland didn’t win a playoff series. Plus, I don’t see the Thunder as a particularly well-coached team. To its credit, Oklahoma City got a lot from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, individually and in tandem, but when Westbrook got injured, the Thunder had no answers.

If you squint hard enough, Cheeks looks like an alright coaching candidate. It’s difficult to view him as anything more than that.

Anthony Bennett falls to Pistons in ESPN’s post-lottery mock draft

Chad Ford of ESPN updated his mock draft after last night’s lottery, and he has the Pistons taking Anthony Bennett at No. 8:

The Pistons’ biggest need is at the three, and if Bennett falls this far, I could see Detroit convincing themselves that Bennett could make the transition. While Bennett looks like a power forward, he can really shoot and handle the basketball. He has enough talent to be the No. 1 pick, but his recent rotator cuff surgery has caused his stock to slide just a tad. He’d be a great fit in Detroit and give the Pistons, along with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, one of the best young front lines in basketball.

I didn’t like Bennett relative to the other five typically touted players – a group also comprised of Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo.

But at No. 8? Heck yeah.

I definitely believe Bennett’s is better suited to play power forward long term, but there’s no harm in the Pistons spending a little time trying to make him a small forward, a position that presents a bigger need in Detroit. Even if that experiment is a likely failure, Bennett as a power forward would be great value at No. 8.

Andre Drummond gives hope despite another perilous lottery

NEW YORK – As I stepped into a crowded Good Morning America Times Square Studio after the NBA lottery, other media, observers and official team representatives had already flooded the floor. It was difficult to even walk without following a single-file stream leading toward the center of the crowd.

In the scrum, the first face I clearly saw belonged to Andre Drummond. The 6-foot-10 center towered above everyone near him, using his wide frame to clear space in his immediate vicinity.

He was smiling.

The Pistons’ streak of never benefitting from moving up in the lottery – the only time they’ve moved up, they drafted Darko Milicic – remains in tact. Entering Tuesday’s lottery with the No. 7 seed, the Pistons fell to the No. 8 pick to create a grim situation.

The Cavaliers, a Central Division foe, landed the No. 1 pick and will also see Anderson Varejao return from injury. Another Central Division team, the Pacers, will begin play in the Eastern Conference Finals tomorrow. A third Central Division team, the Bulls, won a playoff series and will get Derrick Rose back next season. The Pistons might be in better shape than the Bucks, but at least Milwaukee made the playoffs this season, and I’m not going to bother with the pointless exercise of comparing the Pistons and Bucks.

Moreover, the eighth pick is not a great place to sit in this draft. Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo and Anthony Bennett will almost certainly be off the board. It would have been worth hoping one fell to No. 7, but to No. 8? It was already a stretch at No. 7. The Pistons won’t even necessarily get their top choice of a lower tier that includes Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Len, Cody Zeller and C.J. McCollum.

But as I saw Drummond standing there smiling, I exhaled and smiled, too.

Maybe this won’t be so bad. After all, the Pistons have Drummond, one of the league’s most promising players thanks, in part, to the size that allowed me to see him first. And they got him one pick later than they’re choosing this year. Sometimes, the improbable happens, and lately, the Pistons’ improbable luck has come on draft night rather than lottery night.

The risks are still plentiful, as the No. 8 pick might do just enough to ensure the Bobcats get the best pick possible in a stacked 2014 draft, thanks to a first rounder Detroit still owes them from the Ben Gordon trade (top-eight protected next year). Is a Drummond-Greg Monroe-Brandon Knight core plus whoever the Pistons draft and sign this year good enough to run with?

Before I knew it, a crew dismantled the stage that not long ago Drummond and ever other team’s lottery representatives sat on. I didn’t stick around to watch the end, but the crew was taking down the logos top to bottom, left to right, leaving the Pistons’ logo due to come off last.

The Pistons are still standing thanks to Drummond, and they might even still be smiling thanks to an irrational hope that draft luck repeats itself. But as much as I want to remain optimistic, I can’t help but think it won’t be long until someone comes by and takes down what the Pistons are building.

Pistons land No. 8 pick in 2013 NBA Draft

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Ben McLemore

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag


  • Measurables: 6-foot-5, 185 pound freshman shooting guard from Kansas
  • Key Stats: 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2 assists per game; shot 49.5 percent from the field and 42 percent on 3-pointers
  • Projected: top two
  • Hickory High similarity score

Random fact

Although McLemore was a freshman this season, this was his second year attending Kansas. Because of issues with his high school transcripts, McLemore was academically ineligible to play for Kansas in 2011-2012 and redshirted. McLemore, now 20 years old, is already older than Andre Drummond.

Fits with the Pistons because …

The Pistons desperately need a good perimeter player, because Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Singler just aren’t cutting it. McLemore, who shot 42 percent from 3-point range, is most commonly compared to Ray Allen. McLemore could become the Pistons’ second-best option on offense, behind the Drummond-Monroe tandem in the paint. Having a player that can knock down long shots like that is a luxury that the Pistons haven’t truly experienced in a while.

On defense, McLemore’s foot work and length have scouts hoping he has the potential to become a lockdown defender in the NBA, even if he’s not there yet.

People fail to remember that scouts looked at McLemore as an undersized power forward until his senior year of high school. He’s a very late bloomer.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Detroit’s front office still has a lot of hope in developing Brandon Knight as a shooting guard, and if they believe in that, there’s no use in drafting McLemore. McLemore is not a player that you can put in other positions and make it work– he’s a shooting guard and will stay a shooting guard.

If the Pistons have an opportunity to snag McLemore – it will take some luck in a few minutes – he’s not a sure-fire star. He has the capability of developing into one, but he was often too passive at Kansas.

He’s not going to be a bad player, but there’s a chance he won’t realize the potential everyone sees in him.

From the experts

Chad Ford:

McLemore is the purest jump shooter in the country. He’s a likely top-three pick, and in some scenarios in our Lottery Mock Draft, we having him going No. 1 overall. McLemore is also an elite athlete and has the potential to be a great defender. What he lacks is confidence. At times he can disappear or overly defer to other players. For teams wanting a go-to scorer and an alpha dog, he might not be the right choice. But if he overcomes that, he could be an NBA All-Star someday.


Long term, the question is what type of role McLemore can grow into in the NBA. Is he a “3 and D” player, meaning a spot-up 3-point shooter, transition finisher and defensive stalwart, or can he be more than that? Most starting shooting guards in the NBA need to be able to function in pick and roll and isolation settings, which is something he doesn’t do at Kansas very often (under 10% of time according to Synergy Sports Technology). It really depends on what the expectations from him well be, which will be decided in large part on where he ends up being drafted.

On film

Greg Monroe’s passing illustrates Pistons’ lottery odds

Ian Levy of Hickory-High has a cool feature where he equates each team’s lottery odds to something more relatable. Here’s his Pistons entry:

Detroit Pistons3.9% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Greg Monroe‘s odds of assisting on consecutive made baskets by the Pistons.

Greg Monroe assisted on 18.6% of the Pistons made baskets when he was on the floor this season. His odds of assisting on two consecutive makes would be (0.186 x 0.186 = 3.6%).

Maybe Lawrence Frank should have given Monroe more playmaking duties. Then, the Pistons would have a better chance at the No. 1 pick. That’s how this works, right?

Detroit Pistons (and complete NBA) 2013 NBA Draft lottery odds

Detroit Pistons’ lottery odds

  • No. 1 pick: 3.6 percent
  • No. 2 pick: 4.16257 percent
  • No. 3 pick: 4.91491 percent
  • No. 7 pick: 59.92783 percent
  • No. 8 pick: 25.30111 percent
  • No. 9 pick: 2.05964 percent
  • No. 10 pick: 0.03393 percent

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Otto Porter


  • Measurables: 6-foot-8, 205 pounds, sophomore small forward from Georgetown.
  • Key Stats: 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals per game; shot 48 percent from the field and  42.2 percent on 3-pointers
  • Projected: Top 5 pick
  • Hickory High similarity score



Random fact

Porter took a strange path to Georgetown. He grew up in rural southeast Missouri and went to Scott County High School, which had an enrollment at the time of 108 students. He also never played AAU basketball.

But big-time college still found him.

Maybe its because Porter’s high school has a long-standing tradition of basketball success. The Porter family had a member on Scott County High School’s first 11 state championships, starting with Porter’s dad, Otto Porter Sr., in 1976.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Porter fills a big need. If the Pistons retains Calderon, they will be in good shape at point guard, power forward and center, and Brandon Knight would be a serviceable shooting guard. Small forward, however, is currently occupied by Kyle Singler, and he’s not desirable starting option. Getting Porter would fill that need immediately, considering Porter projects as a solid player immediately.

If he plays to the full of his potential, Porter could possibly become a Tayshaun Prince-esque player. He’ll be an all-around player with good defensive ability once he develops a bit more on that side of the ball, but he’s on the right track.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

The Pistons don’t have anyone aside from Greg Monroe who can create his own shot, and Monroe only qualifies because I’m optimistically hoping Detroit possesses the basic skill of throwing entry passes going forward. Porter isn’t going to solve that problem.

If Calderon stays, that’s OK. But if Calderon leaves, Porter’s skills will be partially wasted on a team that doesn’t move the ball well. Porter learned at Georgetown how to function in an offense full of cuts and passing, but it’s not clear he has isolation skills.

From the experts

Chad Ford:

From a skills perspective, Porter is one of the two or three most complete players in the draft. He could look great in the drills section, though he, too, is unlikely to participate. Typically the top six to 10 players in the draft skip that portion of the combine. Everyone expects Porter to be stellar in the interview process, so the athletic testing might be the real key for him. If he tests well with his vertical leap and lateral quickness, it would further cement his status as a top-5 pick.


At 6’9 with a very long wingspan and a rail-thin 205-pound frame, Porter has excellent size for the small forward position, even if he must get significantly stronger before he can make an impact at the next level. This is especially important considering his lack of elite athleticism, as he is more fluid and smooth than quick or explosive. Though his intelligence and instincts allow him to compensate somewhat at this level, he will have to maximize his physical potential to contribute at the next level.

On film