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Josh Smith ranks No. 9 on Bill Simmons’ worst-contract list

Bill Simmons of Grantland ranked the NBA’s worst contracts, and Josh Smith placed No. 9:

Lessons from Detroit’s Josh signing include: Don’t put Josh and Brandon Jennings on the same team unless you’re trying to win a sulking contest; don’t put Josh with a new coach on a two-year contract; don’t play Josh at the 3; don’t assume you’ll be good defensively if you play two big guys with Josh; don’t sign Josh to a contract that doesn’t include a mandatory $10,000 fine every time he takes a 3; and don’t overpay someone whose departure from his previous team inspired fans to react as if you shot $100 bills out of a T-shirt cannon at them.

And after saying all of that … you know what? I spent 30 minutes on YouTube recently watching old Oak Hill highlights with Josh and best buddy Rajon Rondo while wondering if the Celtics should deal Jeff Green and Keith Bogans’s expiring deal for him. You know what frightens me? I think I’d be excited if this happened! My God, Josh Smith is my Atrocious GM Kryptonite!

Sign me up for that trade in a heartbeat. Heck, I I’d consider Josh Smith and Jonas Jerebko for Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace (No. 2 on Simmons’ list).

Smith is 28, and while I don’t believe he’s over the hill, players age faster than most people realize. Smith is likely past his athletic peak, and even if he might remain athletic enough for several more years, that’s a scary thought for a player who’s so reliant on his physical skills.

What are the odds Smith makes this worst contract list again next season? He could rebound, but if forced to choose, I’d bet on him taking a spot again.

As poignant as his Smith analysis was, Simmons really nailed this:

Of the 10 teams that kept their amnesties, reasons range from “Billy King saved our ass from using it” (Atlanta) to “we never needed the help” (Boston, San Antonio, Chicago) to “we wish some of our current guys were eligible” (Sacramento, New Orleans, Memphis) to “we’re generally confused and probably misunderstood how it worked” (Detroit) to “we’re too freaking cheap” (Utah, Oklahoma City).

I’m pretty that’s a joke, but offer a better a better explanation for why the Pistons didn’t amnesty Ben Gordon or Charlie Villanueva. You can’t.

OK, it’s probably “we’re too freaking cheap,” but even that explanation can’t totally be separated from the Pistons seeming confused.

Pistons spoke to Cavaliers about Luol Deng

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Cavaliers have had conversations with several teams, including Dallas, Detroit and Indiana about Deng, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Nevertheless, there’s no traction on a deal and no team seems inclined to give up valuable assets for a player who could walk away in free agency.

Could the Pistons use a small forward who plays strong defense and shoots adequately from outside? Absolutely.

But, if they’re not willing to surrender Greg Monroe, the Pistons don’t have the ammo to get Luol Deng. (And I wouldn’t trade Monroe for Deng, anyway.)

Get those Josh Smith-for Deng trades out of your mind, too. No way Cleveland does that.

At best, this is the Pistons doing their due diligence. At worst, it’s a leaked report to create the illusion there’s a chance Joe Dumars even has the power to make a trade of that magnitude.

Neither scenario points to Deng becoming a Piston.

Pistons probably won’t trade Greg Monroe.

Jason Zwerling of Bleacher Report:

hearing Greg Monroe won’t move

That jives with everything we’ve heard lately, and I’m glad about the development.

Regardless of whether the Pistons value Greg Monroe enough to give him a max contract (a necessity if they’re keeping him past today) or whether they’re just stagnant due to Tom Gores stripping power from Joe Dumars, Monroe should remain a key building block.

It’s unlikely the Pistons get fair return on Monroe now, when other teams see the Pistons desperation and also know they can make a run at him in free agency.

Monroe has major deficiencies, most of them on the defensive end. But he’s very talented offensively and still young. There’s no guarantee he’ll become a major success, but he’s worth taking a chance on – especially considering the Pistons’ limited resources to add another potential star through other means.

If the Pistons keep Monroe today, I’d appreciate that. But they better follow that with a strong plan for him this summer, when he’s a restricted free agent. Otherwise, it’d all be naught.

Chauncey Billups to have knee surgery

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Sources: Billups to undergo knee surgery on right meniscus. Not career or season ending, though.

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Will Bynum for Jerryd Bayless?

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

If a minor deal is out there to be made, do not be surprised if Jerryd Bayless and his $3.1 million expiring contract are moved for a player like Detroit’s Will Bynum who makes about $2.79 million which is less than Bayless but has one year remaining on his current deal with the Pistons.

Blakely previously covered the Pistons for MLive before departing for Boston. He likely has a pretty good understanding of both the Pistons’ and Celtics’ approaches nearing the trade deadline.

But I can’t see why Boston would make this trade.

Bayless is better than Bynum, younger than Bynum and has a more palatable contract than Bynum. Even if Bayless costs more this season, that means practically nothing considering Bynum’s contract is a year longer, extending to next season. The Celtics fall below the luxury-tax threshold, so they’re likely unmotivated to cut short-term salary just to add more long-term salary.

If Joe Dumars could pull off this trade, it would be fantastic. It’s not the type of major deal that moves the needle either way, but there’s little downside for the Pistons. That’s also why I’d be shocked if Dumars gets a chance to make this move.

Pistons to honor 1988-89 championship team during Heat game

The Pistons will honor the 25th anniversary of the 1988-89 championship team during their March 28 game against the Miami Heat, according to the Detroit Free Press.

David Stern reportedly will even be there, if that gets you going. For the rest of us, I expect most of the Bad Boys to show up – Isiah Thomas, Vinnie Johnson, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, James Edwards, John Salley and Joe Dumars being my top guesses.

Unfortunately, unless the Pistons improve by March 28, this will likely be a chance for fans to boo Dumars on his way out – a la Karen Davidson at Dennis Rodman’s jersey-retirement ceremony. I hope I’m wrong about that. It would be unfortunate, no matter what you think of the job Dumars has done as general manager, to ruin what could be a cool event.

I’m a little surprised by the timing of it, though. Ceremonies like this are used to draw fans. Heat games also typically draw fans. Wouldn’t the Pistons be better off spreading those attractions to two separate games? Or has attendance at The Palace fallen so far that both are needed on a single night?

Pistons reportedly want huge return to trade Greg Monroe

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

The problem, as the Pistons knew last fall, is that Monroe’s agent is David Falk. He has gotten the price he said he’d get for his clients for two decades — and he says the price for Monroe will be a max contract.

Yet the Pistons aren’t going to move Monroe unless it’s a blockbuster deal. Offering just expiring contracts won’t get it done. The hope in Detroit is that Monroe’s situation is resolved in similar fashion to how Oklahoma City eventually worked out a four-year, $49 million contract with Serge Ibaka before he hit free agency. (The Thunder had the obvious advantage of having Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as lures to play with through the meat of Ibaka’s career.)

If Falk finds a team ready to give Monroe the max or something close to it, expect Detroit to match the offer sheet and worry about the money later.

I hope this is true. I don’t want the Pistons to trade Greg Monroe for anything less than prime return. If they keep him past the trade deadline, I want them to match any offer for him.

But understand, this could also be posturing.

The Pistons must prepare to give Monroe a max contract or trade him, but that doesn’t mean they can’t try to pay him less. If they scare off other suitors, maybe Monroe will accept less than a max deal.

Before it gets to that point, maybe the Pistons boost their trade offers by insisting they want to keep him. Some interested teams might be waiting for him to hit free agency, or maybe they think the Pistons will dump him to elevate Josh Smith further.

My hunch is Aldridge’s report is accurate.

For one, he’s an excellent reporter with strong sources across the country. He can dig past the smokescreens teams put up.

I also probably just want to believe it’s true.

John Loyer brings welcome passion, more-welcome victory to Pistons in debut

San Antonio Spurs 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 7-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +15

Just an all-around strong game on both ends of the floor. Remember when Monroe looked engaged offensively and defensively early in the season? That two-way enthusiasm returned tonight. It almost seemed as if Monroe has a fresh start.

Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 38 MIN | 4-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +9

Smith had a very impressive fastbreak dunk, but otherwise, he settled for too many jumpers. On a night so many of his teammates played passionately, Smith, who generally plays hard, faded into the background a bit. His defense was strong, though.

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +16

It’s not Singler’s fault, but he’s a step slow defending shooting guards, and the Spurs took advantage. A cold shooting night doesn’t help either.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 26 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +5

Drummond was blocking shots with such ease, he was directing his rejections toward his teammates – even off the backboard once – to start fastbreaks. That’s some next-level defense (and offense).

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 8-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +15

Jennings tuned cold in the fourth quarter, shooting 0-for-4, as the offense stalled. But before that, he played with great flare. Jennings took some wild shots – and made them – while still keeping his teammates involved.

Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0

Jerebko, to his credit, played within himself. He’s getting comfortable in the rotation and not pressing. But if Jerebko playing within himself means so little production, maybe Luigi Datome deserves another chance at playing time.

Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 16 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -6

John Loyer’s most notable change was Bynum’s return to the rotation. Bynum and Maurice Cheeks feuded against the Magic, and then Cheeks benched Bynum for the last two games. Well, Cheeks is gone now, so Bynum is back.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -3

The Spurs’ sophisticated offense challenged Caldwell-Pope defensively, and he shot a woeful 1-for-5 on 3-pointers. Yet, Caldwell-Pope still salvaged a decent game. That’s no easy feat for a rookie who’s skillset has been limited for most of the season and a real credit to Caldwell-Pope’s competitiveness.

Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 7-13 FG | 6-8 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -6

Stuckey was especially aggressive with the ball in his hands tonight. At times, he he definitely veered over the line of remaining in control, but that mindset helped him much more than it hurt him.

John Loyer

I have little idea what to make of Loyer after only one game, but I quite enjoyed watching him coach. I wrote about him at ESPN. An excerpt:

Loyer — whose last multigame head-coaching stint was at Wabash Valley College — jumped into his new post with aplomb and a refreshing passion. He roamed the sideline, encouraging his players to run offensively and demanding they close on shooters defensively.

The Pistons responded, playing with extra bounce while building a lead that peaked at 23 points over one of the NBA’s top teams.

the Pistons have run through failed coaches: Flip Saunders (too offensively minded), Michael Curry (too inexperienced), John Kuester (too meek), Lawrence Frank (too rigid) and Cheeks (too terrible).

Could Loyer be the just-right porridge?

Despite Monday’s result, it’s doubtful. He hasn’t been a hot commodity on the coaching market and got this chance mostly by being in the right place at the right time.

He came to Detroit with Frank in 2011 and, as a former Cheeks assistant in Philadelphia and Portland, stayed through the transition last summer. The Pistons reportedly also offered Lionel Hollins a spot on Cheeks’ staff, but the former Memphis Grizzlies coach turned them down, and they failed to add a logical successor for Cheeks.

So Loyer, who’s respected for passion toward coaching, got the big opportunity in a season in which the playoffs are still realistic. In fact, the Pistons are now tied with the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 8 seed.

Wouldn’t it be something if Loyer, the byproduct of two failed regimes, becomes the coach who finally succeeds in Detroit?

We can’t know what his future holds, but Loyer should feel good on his first night as an active head coach.

Ben Wallace’s SUV reportedly involved in potential felony hit-and-run

CBS 6 in Virginia (hat tip: Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys)

Silverio Acosta said he dialed 911 after he heard a loud boom around 2 a.m. at his home off Gaskins Rd. near Peppertree Dr.

When Acosta went outside to see what happened, he found pieces of his fence, which butts up to Gaskins Rd., scattered throughout his yard.

“It was dark, but it’s clear from here I saw one person trying to fight to get out of the car,” Acosta said.

That’s when Acosta said he saw a man pick up and smash pieces of wood against the fence “because he was angry.”

Police said the SUV, which was left at the accident scene, took out a 20-foot section of the fence.

Multiple police sources told CBS 6 News that the vehicle belongs to former NBA All-Star Ben Wallace.

Henrico police, who are investigating the wreck as a felony hit-and-run, would not confirm on the record that the vehicle belongs to Wallace.

Acosta said he would not have recognized Wallace since he is not a basketball fan. He said the man was very tall, but admitted that he could not see the fleeing driver’s face.

This unavoidably brings to mind Ben Wallace’s 2011 DWI arrest. That was hard to wrap my head around, and this will be, too.

Rasheed Wallace promoted!

Dave Pemberton of The Oakland Press:

Assistant coach Max Trakh is no longer with the #Pistons

With Trakh gone (fired? resigned?) and John Loyer the head coach, the Pistons are down two assistants.

What’s one level beneath an NBA on-bench assistant coach? A player-development coach.

You know who’s a player-development coach? That’s right, Rasheed Wallace.

Dave Hogg of the Associated Press:

Rasheed is going to be a front-bench assistant, moving up from his second-row seat as a player-development coach.

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