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First-round pick Pistons owe Bobcats complicates Josh Smith signing

Consensus opinion, at least outside Michigan, on the Pistons signing Josh Smith has veered negative. As I’ve written, I think that’s because Joe Dumars is still paying the price for overpaying Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Many are just going to assume, barring strong evidence to the contrary, any free agent Dumars signs will fail.

One national writer has taken a different approach: Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward, who wrote a sensible and reasonable article mostly praising the Smith signing. Read it. Absorb it. Cross-reference it with J.M. Poulard’s brilliant piece.

I agree with much of what Mahoney wrote, but rather than restating what he put so well – like I said, read it – I’m going to quibble with a part that I think needs more context. Mahoney:

There’s also no rush. Fretting over Smith’s fit on a team that’s still gathering assets and developing young talent is premature, especially considering that his very arrival opens up a greater breadth of options for the Pistons.

If all else fails, Smith will still be of value to other teams even it it doesn’t work out in Detroit — giving the Pistons one more high-quality trade chip than they had previously.

Redundancy isn’t some great sin for teams in construction. Value is value, and Detroit paid a fair price to pick up a talented player, explosive defender and experimental component while the younger pieces on the roster develop.

Usually, I’d be totally in favor of a young rebuilding team like the Pistons adding talent and then sorting out fit later. Premier talent – certainly, Smith qualifies – is difficult to come by.

Generally, there’s little wrong with incremental improvements once a team has acquired young talent (like Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe) if it comes through that young talent developing and the outside addition of not-old talent (like Smith).

But the top-eight protected first-round pick the Pistons owe the Bobcats next season complicates matters. The Pistons must time their surge forward in ways most teams needn’t worry about.

If the Pistons make the playoffs or land a top-eight draft pick, Smith, at least in that regard, would present no immediate downside.* But for a team that picked eighth this year, Smith offering slight improvement could really set the Pistons back. Getting a pick 9-14 and sending it to Charlotte, meaning the Pistons miss the playoffs, would be a disaster.

*Though, if the Pistons get a top-eight pick with Smith, something has likely gone extremely awry.

This doesn’t make Smith a bad signing, and the Pistons clearly believe he’ll push them all the way past the disaster zone and into the playoffs. Smith’s signing could be the Pistons timing their surge just right.

But the chance he upgrades Detroit to a pick in the 9-14 range – not all the way to the playoffs – is a fundamental risk. The Pistons, despite what Smith believes, are not a lock to make the playoffs. The Heat, Pacers, Bulls, Nets and Knicks are safe choices. After that, several teams are in the mix for the final three spots, including the Pistons.

I still like the Smith signing more than I dislike it – for many of the reasons Mahoney articulates – but there’s more downside than Mahoney acknowledges.

75 Comments

  • Jul 25, 201311:38 am
    by MIKEYDE248

    Reply

    I think if the Pistons are picking in the top 8, unless for some reason they win the lottery, something went really wrong.  If they are picking in the 9-14 range, something still went pretty wrong.  If they are picking 15 or lower, odds are the player they would have picked, isn’t going to be that impackful of a player anyway.

    I don’t see a down side of the signing.  Worst case scenario is that he doesn’t work out and Joe needs to trade him away for someone that might fit into the Pistons needs a little more.

  • Jul 25, 201311:57 am
    by Oracle

    Reply

    This team could land in the playoffs anywhere from 5th-8th seed, but it isn’t the players that will determine it totally.

    A HUGE component will be coaching first and foremost, with backcourt play coming in 2nd!

    While I agree that other teams will have to match up against us most nights, it’s fools gold to believe that coaching won’t have to tune the lineup to matchup up better against more potent teams!

    However, in the east, there are enough bad teams that the Pistons will fatten up enough to get into the playoffs even with average coaching, i.e. Frank could do it with this talent. It’s getting the higher seeds that will be where the excitement is next year, but there is risk!

    • Jul 25, 20133:04 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      It’s very hard to predict how good or bad the Wizards, Cavs, Bucks, and Raptors will be next year.

    • Jul 26, 201312:47 am
      by Max

      Reply

      I think coaching is the biggest issue too for one  reason.  Drummond.  Start him and play him as many minute as he can handle and the Pistons will be a dominant team that no one will be able to match up with other than the Pacers and the Bulls on their rare healthy night.   Bring him off the bench or fail to play him 30 minutes and the team will probably just miss the playoffs.  

  • Jul 25, 201312:08 pm
    by Terrell

    Reply

    I don’t believe that Joe Dumars is done yet. If the experiment with Smith doesn’t work he still has assets to change the team. Rondo is still a option. Remember Boston has to wait to trade Wallace and Humphries.With what Boston is doing, Rondo is sure on his way out.That’ll be the only way they move those contracts. Rebuilding requires cap flexibility.  With those two on the roster, rebuilding with be tuff.  So Detroit fans should be patient. The same spacing problems thateveryone has grown fond of stating, Joe knows about it to. I believe he only said he was comfortanle with the team now is to not give his his trade partners the upper hand on any potential deals. But its a hard decision who to let go. A offensive big man or a defensive big man. The fans would rather keep Drummond but is he the better choice? With his fool shooting is he a better fit.  Or with Monroe,  does his defense makes him a liability. Joe knows what he is doing and only him and Gores. 

    • Jul 25, 20133:09 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      There’s that blind faith in Dumars that I wish I could have. Unfortunately, I’ve actually watched basketball over the past half decade.

      • Jul 26, 201312:49 am
        by Max

        Reply

        Might as well be no faith in Joe if he thinks Drummond for Rondo is even a consideration. 

  • Jul 25, 201312:20 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    Lets be honest…  The Bucks made the play-offs with 38 wins … we had only 29 wins…

    1.Maxiell started most of the season until his injury even though he played horrible for the most part
    2.Stuckey had a mental breakdown, and had his worst season as a pistons
    3.Kyle Singler was play SG for most of the season…
    4.Greg got off to a slow start…
    5.Greg shot 30% for mid-range Jumpers and only made 60 total!
    6.Knight bounced back and forth between PG & SG and was injuried
    7.Drummond played under 20 mins per-game most of the year, then was injurued for 22
    8.We started the season 0-8
    9.Frank was a horrible coach

    Those are 9 reasons we couldnt get 9 wins….. Yes some teams have gotten better,and some have stayed the same. Josh Smith you can argue has been the best player on the hawks for the past 4-5 years, and they have been a 5th-6th seed consistantly…. theres no downside when you upgrade in talent…

    • Jul 25, 20133:31 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Most teams feel like they are better than the previous season every year. This rationale is like when Langlois says that if the Pistons just tipped a couple close games in their favor and won a couple more games they really should have against inferior opponents, they’d get in. But he doesn’t consider the games that they won by a close margin or when they beat superior opponents.

      Some things will break better for the Pistons this year. Some will break worse. I’m a bit of a homer so I would put odds on them making the playoffs. But it is no sure thing.

      Also, give me Horford over Smith any day. Horford is a beast. I would be ecstatic if Monroe could somehow be swapped for Horford.

    • Jul 25, 20133:43 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Also, the odds are that it will take more than 38 wins to get in this coming season. Most years it does.

      So realistically, the Pistons actually have to improve by about 12 wins. That can happen, but it’s a big jump. 

      • Jul 26, 201312:51 am
        by Max

        Reply

        Smith is a ton more athletic though.    

        • Jul 26, 20139:36 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          A ton more athletic than what? Usually comparative terms require an antecedent.

          • Jul 27, 20131:23 am
            by Max

            Smith is a ton more athletic than Horford.  

          • Jul 29, 20139:45 am
            by tarsier

            Oh, gotcha, you were responding to the previous comment. Yes, he is. But Horford still outproduces him. I don’t care about his athleticism if it doesn’t translate to increased production.

  • Jul 25, 201312:22 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    Lets be honest…  The Bucks made the play-offs with 38 wins … we had only 29 wins…

    1.Maxiell started most of the season until his injury even though he played horrible for the most part
    2.Stuckey had a mental breakdown, and had his worst season as a pistons
    3.Kyle Singler was play SG for most of the season…
    4.Greg got off to a slow start…
    5.Greg shot 30% for mid-range Jumpers and only made 60 total!
    6.Knight bounced back and forth between PG & SG and was injuried
    7.Drummond played under 20 mins per-game most of the year, then was injurued for 22
    8.We started the season 0-8
    9.Frank was a horrible coach

    Those are 9 reasons we couldnt get 9 more wins….. Yes some teams have gotten better,and some have stayed the same. Josh Smith you can argue has been the best player on the hawks for the past 4-5 years, and they have been a 5th-6th seed consistantly…. theres no downside when you upgrade in talent…

  • Jul 25, 201312:28 pm
    by Tom

    Reply

    You have to look at where we would have been without Smith. We had the 8th pick last year. Even if we found a way to sit on all of the cap space – which of course is impossible – you have to look at a young team with Drummond, Monroe and Knight and figure they will all be better players next year and thus we will be a better team. So you have to put the odds on us finishing with a better record next year than we did last and thus losing our first rounder next year.

    We went in to this offseason starting with the assumption that we will not have a first round pick next year and thus it is in our interest to maximize results this year. 

    • Jul 25, 20132:43 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Very valid points to consider. Also consider three teams picking ahead of Detroit seemed poised to become much better next season (Cavaliers, Wizards and Pelicans).

      Not signing Smith would have made a 1-8 pick more likely. Signing Smith makes the playoffs more likely. A key question is whether Smith makes 9-14 — The Disaster Zone — more or less likely.

  • Jul 25, 201312:37 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    Thanks I hate Frank… for once we agree. 

    The Pistons would have made #8 seed last year with Drummond staying injury free, or playing more than 20 minutes a game in the beginning of the season.

    This year they added Smith, Billups, KCP, and Datome… those 4 players SIGNIFICANTLY increase the talent on the court. the NBA is a talent league, I say the Pistons do no worse than 6 seed, most likely 5.

    The only 4 locks are
    Miami
    Chi
    BKN
    IND

    Detroit is next just based on talent alone.

    -Knicks are overrated
    -Milwaukee’s going nowhere, they lost their best guards, kept their worst… and traded a lottery level pick for  2nd rounders.
    - Atlanta lost their best defensive player to us
    - Cavs have Irving, a bunch of forwards, and Bynum, who hasn’t played in a year.

    We have Monroe and Drummond. I don’t know how we don’t get the #5 or #6 seed…
    Honestly I think the Pistons win round 1 of the playoffs as well in an upset of Indiana or Brooklyn. 

    • Jul 25, 20131:14 pm
      by I HATE FRANK

      Reply

      Greg has gotten better and better each year as a pro, theres no reason to believe he wont become a better mid-range jumper (basically set shots)

      Based on Summer league, and what we are hearing from out of the USA camp, there not reason to believe barring injuries that Drummond hasnt or wont improve.

      Last year we were limited two 3 shooters …Knight, Kingler and Charlie…On Paper we now have Knight, Singler, Charlie, Datome, and Billups….

      Last year we has no match up advantages…. Josh is bigger and stronger than most SF’s and quicker than than most PF’s….

      Last year we didnt even have any options with our starting line up
      Now can play Big

      Center – Dre
      PF – Greg
      SF – Smith
      SG – Knight,POPE,Bullups
      PG Billups or Knight

      Or play Sf 

      Center – Greg or DRE
      PF – Smith
      SF – Pope or Datome
      SG – Knight,POPE,Bullups
      PG Billups or Knight

      People are making this way more complicated than it easy ….

      Then if you want your 2nd Unit …

      Center – Greg or Dre ( still getting minutes Centerpieced)
      PF – Tony Mitchell, Jonas or Charlie
      SF -  Singler , Datome or Middleton
      SG – Pope or Stuckey
      PG – Bynum or Stuckey

      Josh smith and Billups  opens doors that we have had for years…

      • Jul 25, 20131:41 pm
        by Vic

        Reply

        So much talent and opportunity. If I were coaching the Pistons, i’d have a lot of fun in the regular season, then tighten it up for the playoffs:

        Regular Season starters (Go BIG);
        Billups
        KCP
        Smith
        Monroe
        Drummond

        Floor Stretch Lineup:
        Billups
        KCP
        Singler
        CV
        Monroe

        Fast Smallball Lineup:
        BK
        Stuckey
        KCP
        Jerebko
        Drummond

        Halfcourt Slowdown Offense:
        Billups
        KCP
        Datome
        Smith
        Monroe
         
        Lob City East Lineup:
        Bynum
        Billups
        Datome
        Mitchell
        Drummond
          
        Playoffs:
        Billups/Stuckey
        KCP/Knight
        Smith/Datome
        Monroe/Smith
        Drummond/Monroe

        • Jul 25, 20131:46 pm
          by Vic

          Reply

          What people don’t understand about basketball is that having a surplus of talent close to the rim is never a bad thing.

          It actually makes it easier for the guards… and is a safety net for the injuries that always happen in a sport that stresses the human body. 

          • Jul 25, 20134:36 pm
            by tarsier

            Having a surplus of talent in general is never a bad thing. But it’s better if the talent fits together than if it doesn’t.

    • Jul 25, 20133:46 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      The Knicks aren’t phenomenal, but they did win 54 games last year. They are a lock for the playoffs. In fact, it would take a major upset fro them to fall out of the top 5 (though I’d currently put them at the bottom of that group).

      • Jul 26, 201312:56 am
        by Max

        Reply

        Kidd was a major difference on the Knicks last year.  He changed the whole culture and it was evident by the first week of the regular season.   The Knicks should be considered the likely 5th seed next season but their key players are all injury prone.   Like the Nets, the Knicks season could fall apart very quickly like the Lakers season did last season and the Lakers went into last season a heavier favorite than either New York team will be this season.   

  • Jul 25, 201312:38 pm
    by AaronD

    Reply

    I love the signing of Josh Smith.  He may not be a traditional small forward, but he is a great power forward that can also play small.  We now have three very good bigs that can split minutes between multiple positions.

    We have 48 minutes to eat up at center, 48 at PF and 48 at small.

    Drummond hopefully plays 32 at Center.

    Monroe plays PF & C, say 22 at PF and 10 at center when Drummond sits.

    Smith plays 22 at small forward and 10 at PF when Monroe sits.

    That means we get 42 minutes a night with either all three or two of them on the floor at a time.  There aren’t many teams in the league that can boast that kind of big talent on the floor for that long.

    A good coach (hopefully we now have one) will see that kind of flexibility and make good use of it, massaging the numbers based on match ups.

     

    • Jul 25, 20133:49 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      22 mpg for Smith at SF is way too much. He should get the majority of his minutes at PF.

  • Jul 25, 201312:42 pm
    by Otis

    Reply

    This is one of the complications of giving Dumars this money to spend, and it’s why I wouldn’t have done it. Smith is instantly my second favorite Piston by a wide margin, but his acquisition (failing any other moves) certainly puts the team on an awkward trajectory. The primary impetus for winning games at this point, honestly, is trying to give Charlotte the worst possible pick. That’s a messed up situation.
     
    Now as a skeptic of the Greg Monroe PF experience, and someone who isn’t itching to hand him a rich contract extension, I think this move sets us up very nicely to trade him for perimeter help. As it stands, virtually nobody thinks our three best players can play together, or at least that they’ll be a good fit. But again, I didn’t think our two best were a good fit and anticipated that trading Monroe was the answer, so bringing in his replacement in Smith sets us up for that next big move that hopefully lands us the third piece of our big three.
     
    As it stands, the team looks like it’s going to be pretty easy to game plan around: Pack the paint, don’t let them hurt you inside, live with their jumpers. There’s something intriguing about having the luxury of putting out the biggest, most talented front line in the league, but it seems like the kind of lineup that’s going to give us a clear advantage only once in a while. Plus it’s hard to afford that kind of luxurious flexibility when you have absolutely no above average perimeter players. Zero. So I truly believe something has to give. Intriguing just isn’t enough when you have SO much of your assets (money and talent) poured into three guys who are less than the sum of their parts.
     
    To me the issue is acting fast. Some people are talking about giving this a year to play out, but by that time Monroe’s contract will be up and he’s going to get max money from somebody. That’s a more pressing issue than what sort of pick we’re forced to surrender. We can’t afford to sit back and be patient, because of the pick and the looming contract extension. Personally, I’d rather just trade Greg before the season starts, because I’m pretty convinced that playing both Smith and him out of position alongside a third guy who spreads the floor even worse than they do is, if not a recipe for disaster, a recipe for underachievement and disappointment relative to our overall talent. If they’re committed to seeing how it works out, so be it. At least it’ll be interesting. But if this experiment looks bad, Joe can’t be his stubborn old self and sit on his hands. He’ll have to be quick and decisive and balance out the roster.

    • Jul 25, 201312:59 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      I wrote this before reading the article, and boy is that guy way off base when he projects the future. And, again, I’m less concerned with the pick than the looming contract extension. But he ignores them both, like the team can afford to take its sweet ass time building a puzzle from pieces that don’t fit. So yeah there’s the pick situation. But when he starts talking, “If Monroe’s defense doesn’t improve in the next few seasons he could move to the bench,” he loses me. So things don’t go great this season, and Moose doesn’t improve defensively, so we hand him a four year maximum extension and just hum merrily along?
       
      And what? Hope for the best? That’s insanity, and this team already spent the last five years trying to make a roster work with pieces that simply didn’t fit. The only difference is that now we have OPTIONS, where before we had none. So here’s hoping that if it doesn’t work out, Joe exercises his options sooner rather than later.

    • Jul 25, 20131:55 pm
      by MIKEYDE248

      Reply

      For me it’s hard to give up on Monroe.  He has been our best player since he walked onto the floor and might still be.  Drummond has a higher ceiling than Monroe, but Monroe is still their best player right now.  We still have not even seen what Josh Smith can do for the team.  All we can do is look at what he has done in the past.  He has shown that he can be a very good defensive player, but not a very good offensive one.  He also takes way too many bad shots, so you are giving up your offense for defense.  With Drummond playing more minutes this year, that alone should improve the defense and it should make Monroe’s shortcomings on the defensvie side less noticable.

      Lastly Monroe is also only 23 years old.  He still has room for improve, plus 10+ years to play, if he stays healthy.  Josh Smith might have his better days behind him, for all we know, if not, we may only have another 5 years max until we start to see a decline in his game.

      • Jul 25, 20133:53 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        “but not a very good offensive one.  He (Smith) also takes way too many bad shots”

        The only thing that knocks Smith down from a very good offensive player to merely a good one is his propensity for bad shots. So your “also” doesn’t make much sense here.

        • Jul 25, 20136:53 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          True, but his bad shooting is so pronounced that he was not even a good offensive player last year.

          • Jul 25, 20137:24 pm
            by tarsier

            He had an off year at the line. Odds are he’ll get his FTs back over 60%. That will bring him right back into the “good offensive player” range.

          • Jul 25, 20137:58 pm
            by oats

            He’s got 2 straight years with a true shooting percentage of .500, and the one 2 years ago was while playing almost all of his minutes at the 4. I would still give him credit as being a good offensive player because he had his turnovers under control that year. The problem is a side effect of a crowded paint is an increased likelihood of turning it over while in the paint. If he continues to have a true shooting percentage around .500 and also has 3 turnovers a game then he will not be a good offensive player in Detroit. I’d say that the crowded paint could actually result in even more long 2s, so his true shooting percentage could even drop from there. I’d say he’s about as likely to be a bad offensive player as a good one.

  • Jul 25, 20131:19 pm
    by thegreat

    Reply

    I disagree with this article I think Dan has no idea what he’s talking about. I think the pistons could be better than the bulls or nets. this roster is not the finished product 

  • Jul 25, 20131:38 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    my problem with the signing is that it sets up a situation where joe d will have to make a move, imho, with one of the big men when it becomes obvious that it makes no sense to have the 3 of them on the same team.
    it will be,  unfortunately, an almost exact repeat of what happened with ben gordon and rip and the SG situation after the BG signing.
    joe d has not been very adept at dealing with those situations recently.  he has typically let situations – and players – drift and fester and then, when the situation is untenable or a player’s value has bottomed out, he makes a move.
    i could easily see this happening…
    monroe becomes the odd man out.
    things degrade over the next year and a half, and during the next season and a half, monroe’s value takes a deep dive.  instead of appreciating the very real positives he brings to the team, everyone focuses on his negatives, and instead of a premier young big man who would command a steep price in a trade, he is a damaged, deeply flawed borderline bust.  sort of how udoh or thomas robinson or jj hickson were regarded. and just as cleveland ended up basically dumping hickson, i could see the same thing happening with monroe.
    i’ll have to see how cheeks manages the 3 of them, but i would not be surprised at all, if that kind of scenario played out. 

    • Jul 25, 20131:53 pm
      by Vic

      Reply

      that would never happen, because Monroe has already proven to be better than Udoh, Robinson, and JJ.

      When there is a surplus of “proven” big men on a team, they leave due to the desire to make money or commensurate with their value, or produce according to their talent – not because they haven’t proven their value or talent.

      If they don’t leave, said team competes for a championship.

    • Jul 25, 20134:47 pm
      by sebastian

      Reply

      frankie d., my man, stop being a Debbie Downer. Teams will have to adjust to what WE are doing. And, if needed, OUR front line will be able to adjust.
      It will work. I see a 50+ win season and no less than a 4th seed and a deep 2nd Round Playoff run.
      Now that’s optimism.
      DETROIT BASKETBALL!!!!

      • Jul 25, 20135:05 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        hey sebastian,
        i just have no faith in joe d.  i wish i did, but his recent history just doesn’t cut it.
        i actually think that there is a good chance that the team will be 8-10 games improved simply because the talent level will be much greater with smith.
        however, in a playoff series, the problems with spacing will be fatal.  imho.
        btw, i see my guy ish smith has indeed carved out a role – though a small one, admittedly – in the league, something we’d chatted about years ago at the old news forum.  i see siva as a version of ish smith, with a little better defense.  same problems, though, as neither is a good shooter.  but there will probably always be a spot in the league for guys like smith and siva.

      • Jul 25, 20137:34 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        You might as well be a Browns fan seeing a Super Bowl in the coming season. Being optimistic is great if it makes you feel better. But in this case, no matter how you feel, you’re just flat out wrong.

        • Jul 25, 20138:37 pm
          by sebastian

          Reply

          tarsier, I could be wrong but I doubt it.
          And, if I am wrong I am a heck of lot more excited about OUR Pistons, this July than any of the previous five Julys.
           

          • Jul 25, 201310:41 pm
            by tarsier

            Likewise. But 50+ wins? That’s ridiculous.

  • Jul 25, 20131:51 pm
    by MrShourite

    Reply

    Realistically without any other roster moves the Pistons seem like a 5-8 playoff seed. Our central division may be shaping up to be one of the toughest in the league. If Knight dramatically improves then we will definitely get to the playoffs, or even if he could play the position sort of like Mario Chalmers by basically becoming a 3 & D point guard and letting someone else like Chauncey facilitate then we’ll be ok for now. 

  • Jul 25, 20132:05 pm
    by mike

    Reply

    I couldn’t care less about next years draft. Every year players get hyped up before college and many of them end up being nothing. For all we know next years draft could end up worse than this years. I’ve never been much of draft fan. I’ll always take proven top end NBA talent over a college prospect. So I’d make the same trade today if given the chance for a do-over. People worrying about future draft picks have their priorities messed up. The goal is to win championships, not host a farm team.

    • Jul 25, 20132:07 pm
      by mike

      Reply

      Enough with all the young players. Pistons were starting to look like basketball pedophiles with all these kids. They needed proven vets like Smith and Chauncey WAY more than another rookie lotto pick.

    • Jul 25, 20134:35 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Young talent is valuable because it comes at a bargain price. Yeah, Josh Smith is almost certainly better than Pope. But is he 7 times better? He might be because we are dealing with specific examples, but in general, young players represent better value. It is very rare to get guys like the 2000s era Ben Wallace or Chauncey Billups on deals at about $6M annually.

      • Jul 26, 20131:02 am
        by Max

        Reply

        A lot of rookies are worth nothing.  Smith is certainly better than 7 times nothing.   

        • Jul 26, 20139:50 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          True. I’d say most rookies are. But not most lottery rookies.

          Think about it this way: Smith makes as much this season as the top 3 picks in the draft plus the 9th pick.

          In some given draft, he might contribute more than those four players combined, but in most, he definitely won’t.

          Even after a draft like this, you’d be crazy to prefer to have Smith on your team than Bennett, Oladipo, Porter, and Burke. 

          • Jul 27, 20131:30 am
            by Max

            Those are pretty crazy terms though in the context of what you were talking about.  You started off with a general statement about young players being valuable because they come at a bargain price and ended up by comparing Smith to the first three picks in the draft plus the ninth.   I’m not sure if any player other than James and Durant could possibly compare to just having the first three picks in the draft.  

  • Jul 25, 20132:06 pm
    by Huddy

    Reply

    Wizards, Cavs, and Pelicans are on the rise with the Pistons, but Milwaukee, Boston and Philly have all but dropped out of the conversation.  Basically I think the Pistons just need to  in the top 3 out of CLE, WAS, DET, and NO to make the playoffs, which is very doable. 
     

    • Jul 25, 201310:50 pm
      by Trysdor

      Reply

      Not to pick nits, but…well…New Orleans plays in a completely different conference and have absolutely no bearing on the team making the playoffs. 

    • Jul 26, 20139:51 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Important consideration: the Sixers weren’t in the playoffs last year. The Hawks were.

  • Jul 25, 20133:07 pm
    by joe dumars

    Reply

    I’m not sure about Smith’s value if they have to move him. He wasn’t exactly a hot commodity during free agency, and a down season could only hurt his value.

    Not to mention Joe’s had a hard on for Smith for years, so he might be stubborn to move him unless Smith himself wants out.

  • Jul 25, 20134:27 pm
    by T Casey

    Reply

    The only 2 things that are revelevant to me as to whether or not signing Smith was a good pickup or not is, “Are we a better team with Smith?” and “Are we 14 million dollars better?”

    To the first question, regardless of how well our front line meshes, I believe the answer is undoubtedly “yes.”
    To the second question, only time will tell. I think a lot of this team’s potential will be dependent on our playstyle. If we play tough, vintage Piston style defense and use our youth to our advantage and try and run teams into the ground offensively, I think the answer to that question will be a “yes” as well.

    Admitteldy, I would’ve preferred if we could’ve signed Smith for 10 mil per year instead of a max, or near max contract. But I think it’s still a good pickup because it means one of our 3 talented bigs is expendable. Over the next few years we’ll get a much better idea for which of these 3 guys fit best in the team’s long term goals and who should be traded to fill our perimeter needs. But that’s probably the worst case scenario.

  • Jul 25, 20134:41 pm
    by sebastian

    Reply

    I much rather that WE have J-Smoove as a Piston, now and the next 4 years, than some wet behind the ears college sophomore who no one knows what type of NBA player he can become.
    Yes, J-Smoove at 27, 28, 29, and 30 years of age rather some over-hyped 2014 Lottery pick, who would be easily 19, 20, 21, during the first 3 years of his Rookie contract.
    I am just not totally sold on this supposed bumper crop of players that are projected to enter the 2014 draft.
    Give me a known quantity, now! Not some pie-in-the-sky hope and prayer.

    • Jul 25, 20137:06 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      I really don’t think the team will contend in the next 3 years at least because Drummond just won’t be ready yet. The window for contending should open in about year 4 after Drummond is starting to near his peak. The goal should be to have that window open as long as possible, and that young player will have his best years coincide with Drummond’s pretty well. Smith on the other hand will either be in his 30s or out of town by then.

      • Jul 25, 20138:42 pm
        by sebastian

        Reply

        Yeah Smith will be 30 in three years, but KCP, B. Knight, and Moose will all still only 1-3 years older than Dre.
        How many teams have won NBA Titles without at least 1 thirty or thirty-something(s) on the roster?

        • Jul 25, 20139:42 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          That doesn’t change the outlook though. It’s not Smith or the rookie. It’s Smith or the rookie and whatever the team does with the cap space after rolling it over to next season. The team would still have room to bring in veterans after next season. Getting the veteran presence is the easy part, the hard part is getting they young core. It’s also not just the young guy 3 years from now. The window for Detroit to compete is Drummond’s prime. It starts then, but keeps going well after that. By that point Smith may not be on the roster, but the rookie definitely would. The rookie is a long term piece for when the team is competitive, but if Smith is still around he won’t be much of an asset any more.
           
          Also, including Knight does not help the argument. He has not shown that he could be a real core player.

          • Jul 26, 20131:04 am
            by Max

            But the team could have done nothing and still lost the pick.  

  • Jul 25, 20135:10 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    Even if the 3 bigs didn’t work out at first, how hard would it really be to sell one of them on the 3rd big role? 
    Didnt Lamar Odom win a couple chips behind Pau and Bynum?

    Didnt Wallace, Wallace, Memo and Corliss all have roles?
    Didnt Laimbeer, Rodman, Mahon, and Salley all have roles.

    that’s four championship teams off the top of my head with multiple productive BIgs. If they start winning, which one of the 3 (Monroe, Drummind, Smith) is going to walk away from a team that nobody can match up with for 48 mins?

    Trust me, the problem is not going to be on the basketball court the problem is going to be in the payroll if anywhere.

  • Jul 25, 201311:02 pm
    by Trysdor

    Reply

    The issue with this line of thinking is that we’re losing a pick either way.  The choice isn’t Smith or a draft pick. It’s Smith and losing a draft pick or just losing a draft pick.  If we retained our pick in 14, we’d just wind up losing it in 15.  Either way, the value of a draft pick lost.  Therefore, we’re better off with Smith than nothing. 

    • Jul 25, 201311:47 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      I’d say it’s a safe to project that Drummond, Monroe and Knight will be better in 2014-15 than 2013-14. Ideally, the Pistons lose the pick the year they’re positioned to finish with the best record. So, in that sense, it would have made sense to wait to sign a key free agent until the summer of 2014. The top-eight protection next year rather than the top-1 protection in 2015 gives the Pistons more room to keep the pick for another year before surging ahead. 

      • Jul 25, 201311:58 pm
        by Trysdor

        Reply

        Standing pat and hoping for a particularly lousy year on the off chance that it might let us get our draft pick a year early is an incredibly questionable strategy for a team who’s fan interest is absolutely zero, who’s arena is dead, who’s owner is very unhappy about these two things, and who’s GM is on the hot seat.  It has no basis in reality. 

        • Jul 26, 201312:07 am
          by Dan Feldman

          Reply

          You’re crossing two distinct discussions:

          What should the Pistons do?
          How well are the Pistons accomplishing what they’re trying to do?

          The owner doesn’t have to be impatient. The GM doesn’t have to be on the hot seat. These are things Gores has decided, and he’s directed the Pistons down a particular path because of it.

          • Jul 26, 201312:42 am
            by Trysdor

            Yes, those two things are subjective and could be changed with a different mindset. But they stem from the two objective factors, the fan interest and the empty seats.  Yes, it’s an interesting academic exercise to think about what the pistons should have done in a vacuum, but it’s a pointless discussion.  What the Pistons should have done in the real world is a much more useful debate to have.  And in the real world, there’s an owner with a moribund franchise and an empty stadium who, like any owner would be, is none-too-thrilled.  Standing pat and hoping for the shiny lotto pick was simply never going to be an option for this team.  Smarter spending might have been, and that’s the more useful and interesting discussion to have. 

          • Jul 26, 20131:08 am
            by Max

            I just think it’s a question strategy when the team could have done nothing this off season and still lost the pick.   Starting Monroe and Drummond, versus the terrible job Frank did last year with Drummond, might have been enough to work a great improvement in the team even if they had done nothing else this off season.    

          • Jul 26, 20133:20 am
            by Dan Feldman

            Trysdor, signing Smith should make the Pistons better next year, and that should increase revenue during the next season, which is important. But I think it’s reasonable to project, though definitely not conclusive, that passing on Smith and shooting for a top-eight pick next season would generate more total revenue during the next five or so seasons.

            I think reasonable projections of either scenario — signing Smith or passing on Smith — have the Pistons better in 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, etc. than in 2013-14. Smith, either way, is basically a constant (on the roster and producing at about the same level or off the roster and providing precisely zero each year). Monroe, Drummond and Knight should get better in the coming years, and no essential player should decline.

            Instead of signing Smith, the Pistons theoretically could have added a top-eight 2014 draft pick to the roster and a free agent or free agents comparable to Smith signed next offseason (though it’s no guarantee either of those pan out, it’s also no guarantee Smith does, but I like the odds of going through both the draft and free agency). A team with an extra pick and a Smith-level free agent should be better than a team with just Smith in 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, etc., and that should lead to higher revenues.

            Financially, does that advantage in those future seasons outweigh the loss next season? I don’t know, but I think it’s reasonable to suggest it might.

            Also consider signing Smith, i.e. trying to make the playoffs this year, also meant paying for point guards and shooters (Billups, Bynum and Datome) to upgrade the roster. If the Pistons didn’t sign Smith, they could have had a payroll about $5 million lower next season, which would have offset some of the revenue lost due to having a lesser team. If you’re going for a top-eight seed, there’s no harm in having a lower payroll. Add amnestying Villanueva (which wouldn’t affect the team’s payroll, only its cap hit), and the Pistons would have a ton of financial flexibility to add players midseason in the event the young players overachieve and a top-eight pick becomes less likely than making the playoffs.

            Of course, there’s a major caveat to all this: How much money does Gores want/need to make next season? If he can’t afford or isn’t willing to accept less revenue next season, even if it means a higher total revenue over the next five years, this is all moot. 

            But I think going for one more lottery pick — depending on conditions relating to Gores we don’t know, or at least I don’t know – could be financially viable.

  • Jul 26, 20134:54 am
    by Trysdor

    Reply

    @Dan While there’s no doubt that a hypothetical scenario in which we wound up with a comparable talent to Smith and a high 2014 lotto pick going into 2015 would be ideal from the standpoint of the team’s future. I don’t think anyone could deny that.  Those are two pretty significant maybes on behalf of both Gores and us as fans to put up with in exchange for yet another insufferably miserable year of Pistons basketball.  As you’ve previously acknowledged, it’s far from a guarantee that we would suck quite enough to get the pick we’re looking for (though no doubt we would suck plenty)  And secondly, there’s absolutely no guarantee we’d wind up with a Smith-level talent.  It’s going to be Summer of Lebron, part deux, and there’s going to be more teams with big cap space (in more desirable markets than we have) than there are going to be Josh Smith-level talents available.  If we stood pat, we’d have been looking at what?  30+ million?  That’s enough money for a lot of Charlie Villanuevas.

    • Jul 26, 201312:12 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      There’s also no guarantee the Pistons wouldn’t do better than Smith in 2014 free agency (not necessarily with a single player, but perhaps via multiple players), but I’m sorting getting away from original point – depending on Gores’ need/want to make money next season, one more year of tanking could be financially viable and even beneficial over the long run. I just don’t think it’s reasonable, based on what we know as outsiders, to simply dismiss that option as complete fantasy.

  • Jul 26, 20131:59 pm
    by Gordbrown

    Reply

    I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again re tanking. There are two issues with tanking. First winning begets winning. Tanking means a reputation as losers and a reputation as losers mean that the other teams gets the benefit of doubt on all the whistles. That’s why teams like Cleveland (which has defined tanking and has also had disproportional success in the lottery to go with it) never advances. Also Washington. Also the Pistons finished seventh this year and got bounced to eighth. What if they were to finish in the top eight and got bounced down to nine and lose the pick that way? Finally, hat tip to those above who have pointed out the Pistons have a young team. They already have potential franchise players on the roster. What those players need is not more players that need development to play with. What they need is the opportunity to play in a winning culture. That is much more valuable than maybes and mightbes three years into the future. Finally, the minimum salary cap. That’s an issue too. Do we know if Bynum is guaranteed for the second year for sure?

    • Jul 26, 20133:00 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      “That’s why teams like Cleveland (which has defined tanking and has also had disproportional success in the lottery to go with it) never advances.”

      I must have imagined their trip to the Finals a few years ago.

  • [...] Feldman of PistonPowered adds another layer to his analysis of Detroit’s Josh Smith signing by examining the relevant implications for the Pistons’ 2014 first round pick: Generally, [...]

  • Jul 26, 20136:25 pm
    by gordbrown

    Reply

    let’s then compare cleveland’s success with that of miami with the same player

    • Jul 29, 20139:59 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      When did Cleveland have Dwyane Wade?

  • Jul 27, 201311:53 am
    by Geoff

    Reply

    You can’t teach size in the NBA, and the Pistons PF – C rotation is going to be very good.

    The Pistons should be among the league leaders in points in the paint and rebounding, and they have 2 bigs that can defend the basket. 

    I doubt you can find many examples of teams that had those characteristics and weren’t good. 

    I think people are vastly underrating the Pistons rise.  If they’re healthy and the perimeter players don’t completely s— the bed, PIstons are going to win. I think analysts tend to be slow to react after a team loses for a while. 

    I think the most misunderstood thing analysts do that keeps expectations low is slot Smith at SF. They haven’t thought enough about how the actual rotations will likely be. Smith is going to play almost all PF

    C: Drummond 28, Monroe 20
    PF: Monroe 14, (Open mins at PF 34 mpg)

  • Jul 28, 20131:32 am
    by Will

    Reply

    The key to whether or not the Pistons make the playoffs boils down to Maurice Cheeks’ ability to provide the system that fits his roster. If he pushes the right buttons there is no doubt they can go to the playoffs because the talent level is way greater than it was last season. Just about every team that starts to feel it becoming mathematically impossible to make the playoffs will start tanking even earlier next season because this draft class is so hyped up. This gives them a greater chance to make the postseason because it’s safe to say their goal is to get back to respectability now rather than later. Josh Smith is no slouch by a longshot and he brings the one ingredient that was sorely missing from this team the past few seasons and that is toughness. That component alone will help the younger players compete at a higher level. Then, Chauncey is back to provide better decision making and the mental toughness needed to navigate through adverse situations. This team could possibly be the most improved in the NBA next season.

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