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Archive → June, 2013

Kevin Martin interests Pistons

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

Thunder G Kevin Martin expected to get interest from OKC, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Minnesota, Dallas and Detroit, source tells Y! Sports.

The Pistons want a wing scorer, and Martin would provide that. Martin, who shot a career-best 42.6 percent on 3-pointers last season, would help space the floor for Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.

But Martin is 30 years old and struggled through the playoffs. It’s worth considering how much those postseason failures were merely the result of a small sample or indicative of Martin’s decline.

Pistons to pursue Andre Iguodala

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Nuggets free agent forward Andre Iguodala will be one of the more coveted players in free agency, according to several league sources. Among those expected to come at the 29-year-old Olympian and 2012 All-Star hardest, according to sources, is the Detroit Pistons

The Pistons need a small forward and have the cap room to pursue Iguodala, who might command a four-year contract worth about $12 million per season. Iguodala played for Maurice Cheeks with the 76ers, and  Iguodala would also immediately become one of the Pistons’ top players. At first glance, this makes a lot of sense and would undoubtedly make the Pistons better next season.

But Iguodala is 29, that hurts his long-term value, an issue I explain in greater detail at ProBasketballTalk.

Jeremy Lin could become a Piston in sign-and-trade for Jose Calderon

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

Another possible landing spot for Jeremy Lin is Detroit, source says. Rockets would acquire Jose Calderon in sign-and-trade in such a deal.

Lin is under contract for $8,374,646 each of the next two seasons, hardly a bargain but not necessarily wildly overpaid considering how well he played at his peak with the Knicks.

Last year, Lin played like a league-average player, which makes him a below-average starter. Still, that would probably upgrade the Pistons’ point guard spot from what Brandon Knight has provided the last two years. Of course, and improved Knight could also upgrade that position with a far lower cost.

Lin would probably make the Pistons marginally better, but I don’t think he’d move the needle too much.

Update: Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

No truth to the Jeremy Lin for Calderon proposed deal, per sources.

Update 2: Alex Kennedy of Hoops World:

Regarding the Jeremy Lin for Jose Calderon rumor, I’m told Houston is much more interested in that deal than Detroit. But never say never.

If the Pistons want to see Jose Calderon, I can see why they wouldn’t be very interested right now. But if Calderon wants to leave, perhaps this trade becomes more appealing to Detroit.

Pistons won’t waive Rodney Stuckey

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Pistons, per source, will not waive Rodney Stuckey

Stuckey will count $8.5 million against the cap during the 2013-14 season. After the season, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

Here’s what I wrote when the Pistons re-signed Stuckey two years ago:

The way I see it, there are three possibilities if Stuckey becomes a Pistons free agent in three years – none of which would place Detroit in ideal position.

1. Stuckey underperforms. This is pretty self-explanatory. The Pistons can’t really afford to have another* one of its players, especially their second-highest-paid player, have his production fall below his salary.

*Have I mentioned Detroit’s three(!) amnesty candidates?

2. Stuckey takes the next step and become a star. In the short term, that would be great. But in three years, unlike this time, Stuckey would have leverage as an unrestricted free agent. There are strong signs he wants out, and the Pistons only option for keeping him could very well be to overpay.

3. Stuckey plays like an $8.3 million-per-season player. He hasn’t done that yet, so it would take modest improvements. But that’s what Stuckey does: make modest improvements without reaching star status.

The Pistons were in a lose-lose situation with Stuckey now – either keep a less-than-stellar fit or let a talented player walk for nothing. They’re headed down the same path again. This time, they have a chance to do something about it, and they should.

Trade Stuckey before his contract ends.

I don’t think my assessment has changed. Unfortunately, Stuckey’s trade value likely has – for the worse.

Pistons to pursue Josh Smith

Marc Stein (in the parentheses and caps):

RT @ramonashelburne: Josh Smith expected to have 5-6 suitors when free agency begins (HEARING DETROIT IS GONNA BE ONE OF THOSE 5-6)

Josh Smith is a better power forward than small forward, but aside from Andre Iguodala, Smith might play small forward right now better than any other free agent. The Pistons, who seem set on making the playoffs next season regardless of long-term effects, could really use Smith to help achieve that goal.

The issue is they’d be bidding against teams that would play Smith at power forward, making him more valuable to those other teams. So, there’s little chance the Pistons could sign Smith without overpaying him.

Signing Smith probably comes down to what the Pistons prioritize: getting good value in free agency or getting good players in free agency. At this stage of rebuilding, I’d prioritize good value over good players, but, with Joe Dumars’ contract expiring and Tom Gores stressing the short term, I doubt the Pistons will show such patience.

Rodney Stuckey’s contract becomes guaranteed tonight

Rodney Stuckey has one year and $8.5 million left on his contract, but only $4 million of that is guaranteed if he’s waived by midnight.

If the Pistons waive him, they could either count all $4 million against the cap this upcoming season (which begins July 1), or they could use the stretch provision, which would count his salary $1,333,333 against the cap each of the next three years. Stuckey would receive his actual payments on the same schedule.

In effect, by waiving Stuckey and using the stretch provision, the Pistons would add $4,009,820 to their cap room this summer.

I would be shocked if the Pistons waive Stuckey for a couple reasons. From Joe Dumars’ perspective, it’s admitting Stuckey has failed to live up to the contract Dumars gave him. From Tom Gores’ perspective, it’s expensive to pay Stuckey and then pay another player to take his place.

On the merits, I could go either way, but I’d lean toward waiving him. Even as an expiring contract, he doesn’t have much trade value right now, though it will increase as the trade deadline approaches. He’s been up-and-down as a player, and I guess you can hope he connects better with Maurice Cheeks than he did his last coach (or the coach before that or the coach before that).

Really, the question nearly boils down to this: Could the Pistons use $4,009,820 in cap room to get a more valuable player than Stuckey? If yes, they should waive him. If no, they shouldn’t.

Viacheslav Kravtsov’s contract now guaranteed

The Pistons didn’t waive Viacheslav Kravtsov yesterday, so he’s now under contract for next season for $1.5 million.

After the 2013-14 season, the Pistons will have the option of giving him a $1,875,000 qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent or declining to make that offer and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Viacheslav Kravtsov’s contract becomes guaranteed tonight

Viacheslav Kravtsov will get paid $500,000 next season by an NBA team no matter what, according to ShamSports.com. The Pistons have three options:

  • Pay him an extra $1 million to keep him on the roster (counting $1.5 million against the salary cap).
  • Waive him and pay him nothing more.
  • Trade him.

The Pistons must decide by midnight.

A trade could have some appeal to a team with a marginal player making $2.35 million or less in 2012-13 who is also under contract for 2013-14. That team could trade that player for Kravtsov, waive Kravtsov and clear cap room.

The Pistons could waive Kravtsov, which would allow every team with cap room or an exception large enough to swallow his $1.5 million salary a chance to claim him. If he clears waivers, he would become a free agent.

At that point, the Pistons would have the option of either paying him all $500,000 next season or spreading that amount over the next three years – the cap hit following the same pattern.

If the Pistons use that stretch provision, lowering Kravtsov’s cap hit to $166,667 next season, and he clears waivers, they could re-sign him to a minimum contract. At that point, he would count $955,549 against the cap. In other words, the Pistons would maneuver $544,661 in extra cap room.

Of course, the risk is another NBA team claims Kravtsov on waivers or signs him as a free agent. He’s under no obligation to return to Detroit. I actually think the greater risk would be him taking his $500,000 and going back to Europe.

Based solely on what Kravtsov did during games last season, I’d probably waive him, but it’s close. If he showed even a small amount of promise behind the seasons, keeping him would be OK.

But if the Pistons are trying maximize cap space and open a roster slot and Kravtov has shown a little potential, maybe waiving him, using the stretch provision and trying to re-sign him is a good middle ground. If they re-sign him, great. If he goes elsewhere, the downside of that risk, it’s not necessarily a terrible outcome.

3-on-3: Drafting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at No. 8

1. Which available player should the Pistons have chosen?

Patrick Hayes: Trey Burke. Joe Dumars has never favored need over talent in the draft. I can’t find a credible draft board that rated Caldwell-Pope more highly than Burke as a prospect. It doesn’t mean Caldwell-Pope is destined to disappoint while Burke is destined for stardom. But it does mean Dumars varied from a strategy – taking the best available talent – that he’s articulated in the past. Shooting guard is certainly a pressing need, as Dumars said. But so is point guard. So, Dumars deserves to have that logic questioned. The Pistons don’t have a starting-caliber point guard on the roster, and the best point guard in the draft fell to them. Regardless of Burke’s local ties, there was a legitimate case that he was the right pick.

Dan Feldman: Trey Burke. The Pistons, like Joe Dumars said, need better wings. They also need a better point guard. Burke rated ahead of Caldwell-Pope on not only my draft board, but every credible draft board I could find. The difference between spots on those boards was usually impossible to discern, but even if the difference were marginal (and I saw it as significant), I don’t see Caldwell-Pope as a better fit, anyway, so what’s the point of reaching for need?

Jameson Draper:  Trey Burke. Caldwell-Pope was definitely a reasonable pick at this spot, but Burke thought eight was the lowest he could have gone, and with him still being available at eight, it was perfect for the Pistons, too. Figuring they don’t re-sign Calderon, Burke would have been able to fill that role very nicely.

2. How do you grade the selection?

Patrick Hayes: B. I don’t hate the Caldwell-Pope selection. In fact, I predicted they’d take Shabazz Muhammad simply because Dumars has taken plenty of risks on talented prospects with red flags in the past, and I’m relieved they didn’t. I’d talked myself into his potential just because I felt like it was inevitable. At worst, Caldwell-Pope is probably a rotation player and at best, he gives the Pistons one of the new breed 3-and-D shooting guards the league is so hot on these days. He’s not a bad pick, it’s just unfortunate he’ll forever be judged based on Burke’s success, not his own.

Dan Feldman: B-. The Pistons chose the second-best player available, which isn’t half bad. I like Caldwell-Pope a good deal, and I think his efficiency and effort will make him a relative success with the Pistons. But the top player available presents considerable more value and plays a position of equal or greater need, and I won’t get over Detroit passing on Burke until they show their games on the court this season.

Jameson Draper: A. The Pistons still have faith in Knight becoming a good point guard in the NBA, and with that in mind, they definitely had a void to fill at shooting guard, and Caldwell-Pope is the perfect fit. Unlike current Pistons Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight (and possible draftee C.J. McCollum for that matter), Caldwell-Pope is a shooting guard – not a combo guard— which will bode well for his development. Seeing that he doesn’t have to learn which position he needs to play, he can jump right into learning how to play shooting guard in the NBA.

3. What’s the most important thing the Pistons can do to ensure his success?

Patrick Hayes: Surround him with talent. No more Brandon Knight/Rodney Stuckey experiments at point guard. Move those guys into combo guard roles (or just plain move one or the other, preferably Stuckey), make Caldwell-Pope compete for the starting shooting guard spot with them and, if he’s successful (as he should be … it’s not like that’s overwhelming competition), immediately put him into the lineup and don’t play the games that this organization has played with young players in the past, keeping them buried behind limited veterans even when they’ve out-performed them.

Dan Feldman: Give him a chance to play with the Pistons’ best players. Once he built his confidence while playing in the second unit’s simplified scheme Drummond’s development was stagnated by the fact that he rarely got to play with the Pistons’ top players. Don’t repeat that mistake with Caldwell-Pope, who, because of his relatively rudimentary ball-handling skills, especially needs to play with Detroit’s top point guard. Don’t gift Caldwell-Pope minutes, but if he’s earned them, make sure the rotation allows him time with the rest of the team’s core.

Jameson Draper: Basically, the Pistons need to treat Caldwell-Pope in the opposite manner they tried to develop Brandon Knight. They need to keep him at shooting guard and slowly ease him into the system. By the middle of this season, Caldwell-Pope should be getting 25 minutes per game off the bench. They just can’t overly rely on him early in the season.

3-on-3: Drafting Tony Mitchell at No. 37

1. Which available player should the Pistons have chosen?

Patrick Hayes: Pierre Jackson or Nate Wolters. I like the Mitchell pick – it’s great value getting him there if they can help him mature – but there’s also a chance Mitchell doesn’t pan out, and I think Wolters and Jackson are both rotation point guards in the NBA. Jackson could easily step into the instant offense/pace-pushing role Will Bynum has played well in and Wolters would add another elite 3-point shooter to the perimeter attack.

Dan Feldman: Tony Mitchell. I liked Pierre Jackson, Nate Wolters and Jamaal Franklin, and all three of them would have been safer picks. But Mitchell’s upside is very intriguing. If the Raptors had taken Andre Drummond and Mitchell had entered last year’s draft, he very well could have been Detroit’s pick at No. 9. Despite how much he struggled last season, Mitchell has very high upside, and I definitely expected him to be off the board.

Brady Fredericksen: Mitchell might have been the best selection. I like Jamaal Franklin a lot, but he doesn’t really help the Pistons’ floor spacing and shooting woes. Ricky Ledo would also have been a possibility, but do the Pistons have the capabilities/desire to create a support system for the most troubled prospects in the draft? Pierre Jackson would have been solid, too.

2. How do you grade the selection?

Patrick Hayes: B-. If Mitchell pans out, he’s going to be an incredible pick. But there’s a reason someone with a lottery skillset went in round two. Whether or not Mitchell works out in the long-term, I don’t expect him to contribute much this season. I think Wolters and Jackson both would’ve been good bets to crack the rotation as rookies.

Dan Feldman: A. The Pistons forgave Khris Middleton’s final season at Texas A&M because there was a lot of disarray around him. I questioned that logic, because I didn’t believe Middleton had shown enough during better times to prove there was a solid foundation beneath the sloppy exterior. Mitchell has shown promise Middletown never approached. A team in the Pistons’ position, especially considering they traded a future first-round pick to the Bobcats, have only so many chances to acquire potentially elite players. Mitchell is well worth the risk.

Brady Fredericksen: B. There are no question-free prospects in the second round — they’re all there for a reason. Mitchell has a mid-first round talent, and taking the best player available in the second round is the way to go. He’s not going to be needed to do a whole lot this season — and he can bring a ton of energy and rebounding to the table off the bench — but if he can overcome his attitude issues, he’ll be a really nice pick.

3. Was his freshman or sophomore year more indicative of the player the Pistons are getting?

Patrick Hayes: Well, obviously the Pistons think it was his freshman year. It’s probably more in between, though. I don’t put much stock in the ‘disrespecting his coach’ talk that follows around a handful of college prospects. In all honesty, a lot of college coaches are not worth listening to if you’re a NBA prospect. I am concerned about the competition level Mitchell played against and the fact that the Pistons are currently trying to develop essentially a much better version of him in Andre Drummond. I’m not convinced they have the resources to devote the necessary time to both simultaneously.

Dan Feldman: Logic tells me the more recent season is more telling, but Kevin Pelton of ESPN has done plenty of research into this issue, and he’s found earlier seasons tend to better indicate pro production. I’m not thrilled by how Mitchell slumped through his sophomore season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a malcontent and out of the NBA shortly. But his freshman year was so good, it’s difficult to ignore.

Brady Fredericksen: I think it’s a mix of both. I don’t know how good or bad his attitude was at school, but it’s not uncommon for talented guys to have lapses when they’re substantially more talented than everyone else around. It’s hard to keep your focus without ever having the fire of being an underdog, and he’s going to have to work and be focused to have any shot in the NBA. Being around veterans who have experienced the rigors might be something that helps him in that regard.