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Isaiah Thomas’ highest contract offer comes from Pistons

Aaron Bruski of ProBasketballTalk on Isaiah Thomas:

The Pistons, Heat, Lakers, Mavs and Suns have all expressed interest, with the Pistons showing the most interest to date and numbers starting in the three-year, $24 million range. Talks with teams in playoff contention have started in the $6-7 million per-year range.

Beyond the name connection with Pistons legend Isiah Thomas, Isaiah Thomas would be excellent. The 5-foot-9 point guard is a top-end pick-and-roll player – hello Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe – and pesky defender.

He’s better than Brandon Jennings, which is why the Pistons would pay so much for him. I think he’s worth $24 million over three years, but because he’s a restricted free agent, the Kings might think so too and match.

Any starting salary over $6,074,466 would push Sacramento’s projected payroll over the projected luxury tax, but they could make other moves to get under. The tax is assessed to teams’ salaries at the end of the regular season, so there’d be plenty of time for the Kings trade someone else.

There’d be little harm in signing Thomas to an offer sheet other than the risk you leave your cap tied up for three days as the Kings wait before matching. In that time, you could miss out on other free agents.

The only way to guarantee the Kings wouldn’t match is with a sign-and-trade. I’d love to believe these discussions are tied to the Josh Smith discussions, but I’m always doubtful a team can pull off a trade simply because the other is stupid. However, if possible – and again I doubt it – I’d happily take Carl Landry, Jason Thompson or Jason Terry as a tax for also getting Thomas. The salaries would match.

More likely, the Pistons would have to offer more than $24 million over three years and/or a sign-and-trade package more appealing to Sacramento. How does $40 million over four years sound for Thomas? What if the Pistons had to trade Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to guarantee the Kings wouldn’t match?

I’d love to get Thomas, but if the offer sounds to good to be true – especially when the Kings have so much leverage – it probably is.

Add Trail Blazers, Hawks, Magic to list of Greg Monroe’s suitors

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Atlanta Hawks are one team that keep coming up as a potential suitor for Greg Monroe as he becomes restricted free agent at 12:01 AM

And the Orlando Magic are another team said to possess Greg Monroe interest

Another team to watch in the Greg Monroe restricted free-agent hunt: I’m told Portland has serious interest in a sign-and-trade for Monroe

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Greg Monroe receives qualifying offer

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Pistons extended a $5.5 million qualifying offer to big man Greg Monroe over the weekend

This was merely a formality. Monroe has a one-year, $5,479,934 offer on the table he certainly won’t take – he’s shooting for a much more lucrative contract – but the offer makes him a restricted free agent, so the Pistons had to extend it.

Now, they have the right to match any offer he receives, and I believe they’ll do that all the way up to the maximum another team can offer (projected to be $63,011,880 over four years). That might be slightly overpaying Monroe, but it’s better than losing him for nothing.

Pistons decline Chauncey Billups’ team option

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

Pistons announce they will not pick up option on Chauncey Billips

Chauncey Billups was an all-time Pistons great, and this is definitely a sad say. It’s also a necessary day.

There is no way to justify a $2.5 million salary for a 37-year-old who’s missed 169 games the last three years. Billups had to go. There’s no way around it.

You can read more of my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Free Agent Focus: Lance Stephenson


  • 2013-14 Team and All Previous Teams: Indiana Pacers

  • Key Stats 2013/14: 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 49.1 FG%, 35.2 3PT%,

  • Estimated contract: 4 year for $48-52 million

Matters to No One But Me …

There was once a second round pick who in his early years in the league was evolving into a star well ahead of schedule. His averages were exploding across the board. He was desperate for more shot attempts as he wasn’t the leading scorer on the team. He missed the all-star game despite being deserving of the distinction and responded with erratic behavior. The year was 2003 and that player was Gilbert Arenas.

Lance Stephenson and Arenas were both second round picks that experienced unrestricted free agency very early in their careers. Their exuberant and unconventional personalities were obvious despite the small on-court sample size. Arenas blossomed into the most exciting player in the league with the Wizards and Stephenson possesses that same potential if he can remove himself from the shackles that is the Pacers organization.

There was a moment in the second to last regular season game this season versus the Heat when Stephenson wasn’t sitting on the bench. Instead he stood in the tunnel beside the seated Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard like a child being forced to do his work at the teacher’s desk because he couldn’t handle being with his peers.

Apparently, Stephenson needs this structure, support and culture in order to harness his behavior, at least that’s the narrative on him that sports columnists would have us believe. But is this what Stephenson really wants?

Structure is suffocating and it’s possible that Stephenson could thrive in the exact opposite environment where his antics are acknowledged but not scolded. Freedom to express himself transformed Arenas to Agent Zero and resulted in three of the most memorable seasons from a single performer. Rasheed Wallace was a keystone on an NBA Championship team only when his behavior was ignored as “Sheed being Sheed” rather than altered to fit some corporate structure. In the same way, Stephenson has another level in him that we have yet to witness but will certainly see in the next five years in the right situation.

Stephenson succeeded this season despite Indiana’s rudimentary and stagnant style of play. He tried to hasten the game by his lonesome versus the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals but his team wouldn’t cooperate. He tried to intimidate the Heat with mockery and ridiculousness but that only vilified him further. Stephenson became the enemy and not the rest of the Pacers team that failed to even show up to the dance. Get outta here.

The more Stephenson was antagonized during the playoffs, the more he accepted the role of the villain. He embraced his public image and was stubbornly defensive about his actions. He was being bullied by the media for not fitting some abstract athlete norm in the same way that he was accused of being a bully on the court. It was the very definition of hypocrisy blanketed by the blandly vague “sportsmanship.” It’s okay though. Stephenson will be the bad guy if that’s what America needs him to be. He can accept that role if it enhances the image of our  heroes.

After all, there’s an old saying about bad guys …



Fits with the Pistons because …

What if an erratic Stephenson is the cultural shift the Pistons need? Far from unpredictability, the team has lacked a pulse in the past five years. Detroit is never going to be a place that lures the big names but it can attract underrated and maligned misfits like Stephenson.

The organization was once known for acquiring the underdogs – the players that nobody else would accept. Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups  and yes, even taking a chance on Allen Iverson late in his career. Overcoming odds and working hard was once an identity on the court and not just a brand they paid lip service to on billboards and promotional videos on the jumbotron. Show me, don’t tweet me.

Stephenson is undoubtedly relentless on both ends of the floor. You can question his decision-making but not his talent and hustle. The former can be taught via study but the latter is innate and special. Stephenson can be a franchise-altering talent with his play on the court and can establish a new identity and mentality with his antics off of it. While some may call it “immaturity,” I prefer “spontaneity.” Spontaneity is the antithesis of being in the NBA Draft Lottery year after year.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

He fits. A ball-handling combo guard that has gotten better in every statistical category in each of the past four seasons. He’s still working on how to best utilize bigs in pick-and-roll situations as he tends to call for screens that only enhance his own opportunity to score. He has a bad habit of icing his teammates when the ball in his hands by over-dribbling and dancing around the perimeter with wasted action but his teammates in Indiana didn’t help much with off-ball movement. Defensively, Stephenson is a ball-hawk but has a tendency to be complacent and lackadaisical when the action goes away from his man.

These are all habits that can be fixed. Mister Gores, please give Stephenson all your money. In exchange, he will save your franchise.

Free Agent is …

… looking to get paid. As a second round pick and despite his immense talent and unlimited potential, Lance has yet to comfortably become a millionaire. Tomorrow is his first opportunity at guaranteed money and we should expect him to take the highest offer.

Best known for …

Torching the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year with pull-up threes, attacks off the pick-and-roll, backdoor cuts and anything else he wanted.


2014 NBA Draft Journal

Can’t get enough of the 2014 NBA Draft? Re-live all the highs and lows with the official Piston Powered live journal. That’s a fancy title for rambling texts and emails about nothing and everything but mostly wrestling. Enjoy.

Patrick Hayes: Gonna be updating all night. So let’s just start with this:

I’m taking Payne in the late lottery. You know what? Forget Vonleh and Gordon. Give me a guy who I know can play. Payne is a better defender, more athletic Ryan Anderson. Just take him and have a starting four for the next 10 years.
Pardeep Toor: Yup. his release a little slow though. Brings the ball up from his waist. Not an issue if he’s shooting in transition like he was all year.

Here’s my top-five:

1) Andrew Wiggins
2) Marcus Smart
3) Julius Randle
4) Jabari Parker
5) Gary Harris
Guys that I also like: Stauskas, Ennis, Payne, and CLEANTHONY EARLY. 
Stay away from: Doug McDermott, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Embiid.
PH: My top five:
1. Wiggins
2. Randle
3. Smart
4. Parker
5. Exum
Harris, Stauskas, Payne will all be top 10 guys when they redo this draft in three years.
Dan Feldman: Too high on Randle. I love his footwork too, but how good will it be with a busted foot?
PH: See today’s three-on-three for my criteria. Give me guys who I know can play. Randle can play. Give him to me. I will take the next Al Jeff/ZBo/chubby guy with post moves for days.
PT: Also think Glen Robinson sneaks into the first round. He had to. He’s the namesake of the Big DOGG!!!!
DF: Who goes higher, Robinson or McGary?
PH: I’d take McGary top 20.
PT: Robinson. No idea if Mcgary is good yet. Wish Caris was in the draft. He would go ahead of both of them.
DF: I’m really hoping for Stauskas and McGary to Hornets

PT: Oooooofff. That’s where ballas go to die. Nobody, not even Bismack Biyombo, survives Charlotte.

Stauskas would be perfect for Atlanta or Phoenix where they play three-point line to three-point line for stretches. No idea where Mcgary fits or what his skillset is. Send him to Indiana (somehow) to crash the glass on all of Hibbert/George misses.
DF: Steve Clifford is the truth. New era (kinda)
PH: McGary in Hornets teal could be the new Mike Gminski!
PH: Just put Rece and Jay on the NBA coverage too. I’ve already learned more than I did all season with Bill and Jalen.
DF: That’s getting edited out.
PH: You already said you not doing the editing. You got a tougher decision to make than David Griffin right now.
PT: Feldman gonna be in an editing funk in the morning! Have you seen Wiggins’ suit jacket yet? I just saw a tweet. It’s going to put Fandango to shame.
PH: How do we have more questions about Wiggins’ motor than Parker’s? Parker chunky and doesn’t defend. Wiggins is ripped and a killer on D. Why are they acting like this is even a decision?
PT: Also, love “per 40 minute” numbers for a 40 minute game. I’m sure those are accurate.
PH: Randle’s suit looking fly as hell too.
PT: There are no questions. Wiggins is so perfect beside Kyrie too. He will let Kyrie dominate the ball like KD does Russ. It’s too perfect and Cleveland hates that. They want a mess.
PH: I hope they take Gary Harris at one. He would still be an upgrade over Waiters.
PT: Great point. Keith Appling would also be an upgrade over Waiters. He should be an option at number one too. Just poured my first whiskey. Cheers to Canada and the 2016 Gold Medal. We did it!
PT: Hahahaha … FINCHY!!! I miss David Stern like woah
PH: No reason for these clowns to boo Silver.Oh Canada!!!
PT: I was hoping for a Bret hart video. Third pick. It’s EXUM TIME. Believe in what you don’t know! … Philly fans been sitting on Drew Bynum, Noel and now Embiid. So much waiting
PH: 1. Philly is the best. 2. No clue what Orlando is doing
PT: 2. Take the low post scorer! JULIUS
PH: Lol at Burke saying they need a “legit center.” Sorry Favors and Kanter. Also, they could use a PG who doesn’t shoot 30%.
PT: Haha. Burke telling Utah that he not ready. This a grown man game, EXUM. You just a child. Welcome.
PT: Yup. It’s my dream backcourt. Two of my favorite players. They gonna give Jeff Green so many mean mugs after he misses three wide open threes in a row.
PH: Made the mistake of looking at Woj’s twitter. Why is Woj ruining the draft for everyone?
PT: NBA Draft is a no twitter zone. Just like watching Breaking Bad and Total Divas. Too intense to be distracted.
PH: This is probably my favorite pick so far. Getting a No. 1 caliber guy at 7 … Kobe will probably make them trade him for Jeff Green or something though.
PT: Yup. Kobe pissed. He destroying tapes of the KobeSystem right now. The system is failing. WELCOME TO BOOGIEVILLE, Nik!!!
PH: ”How many white guys can we compare Stauskas to?” – ESPN crew
PT: Haha. They did a very comprehensive job.
PH: They’re comparing Vonleh to LaMarcus Aldridge!!!!! Tom Crean sounds like he was very influential. “He told me to practice.” Thanks Tom! David Griffin whining about inaccurate media trade reports is perfect. Perfect Cavalier already.
PT: Griffin also looks exhausted. Dan Gilbert stressing that cat out. I could be wrong but I believe Payton, Noel and MCW all hate shooting
PH: Love all the admissions that last year’s picks were awful. Burke, Cater-Williams and McLemore already OUT.
PT: GREAT point. What about the #SpartanDawgs??? Goodness. FEED those dawgs. It’s time.
PH: White guy comparison theatre time again! Wally, Gallo, Morrison. We should’ve made this a drinking game. God, you looked up to Wally Szczerbiak, Doug? Aim higher, son.
PT: Mike Dunleavy will be his mentor in Chicago! ESPN so happy right now.
PH: Woj says Payton and Saric getting traded for each other.
PT: So Philly ends up with nothing? Grrrrreeeaaattt.
PH: Is Flip just drafting every UCLA guy hoping that he tricks Love into thinking it’s Cali?
PT: Yup. That also explains the Luc Mbah Moute acquisition last year. Kyle Anderson next. Exum has four commercials already! Try Burke has none.
PH: People messing up on Gary Harris, man. He would be great for the Hawks though.
PT: Also just smiled after realizing that Michigan doesn’t have a left tackle to block SHILIQUE THE FREAK this year. SHILIQUE HUNGRY.
PH: Can’t wait for all those Devin Gardner picks vs No Fly Zone Part 2.
PT: Gary Harris is a million times the defender Stauskas and McDermott are. Harris third best perimeter defender after Wiggins and Smart.
PH: That’s a hella fun frontcourt with Payne-Horford-Trillsap
PT: Also standing ovation for Payne’s pants and total getup. Reppin those #SpartanDawgs with STYLE!!! Should the Thunder move 21/27 to move up and take Gary Harris NOW???
PH: They’re killing me with this Isaiah Austin stuff. Have me crying on draft night … Nurkic has WWE in him? Sign me up!!! I like James Young, but him over Harris is insane.
PT: MADNESS. Gary the only one who plays D!!!
PH: James Young is technically a Flint guy though, so good on him. Suns just effed your Toronto dreams!
PT: Nooooooooooooooo … He’s from Bramtpon aka Browntown. B-Town standup!!! Denver added Afflalo and Gary Harris today without giving up anything. Western conference keeps getting better.
PT: My goodness. My goodness. Oh no. I’ll be dead in 10 years!!!!! Won’t live to see this Brazilian kid come around!!! I bet Woj missed that one. McGary is NOT the Brazilian Kevin Durant though. I may never recover from this
PH: Lol … You got your Fran Vasquez! Did Trey Burke just move to the bench with these two picks? You know who knows that you take players who can play? Rich Cho.
PT: Players who can play and Cody Zeller. Does this mean no more Mario Chalmers? I miss Rio already.
PH: I hope Rio goes to the Lakers to get screamed at by Kobe.
PT: Oh man. GREAT idea. Can’t wait for Kobe yelling at Rio during the Christmas Day game.
PH: It will be better than Smush Parker.
PT: I think Smush Parker is the perfect end to this draft journal. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Unfortunately, we ran out of steam and didn’t make it all the way to the Pistons pick in the second round. On the plus side, that’s a good metaphor for the effort the organization has put into winning the past five years. 

After drafting Spencer Dinwiddie, Stan Van Gundy must organize his Pistons

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons just drafted a player who turned pro so that he could receive the best possible treatment for his torn ACL, which should tell you why Stan Van Gundy’s next step is so important.

The Pistons’ new president/head coach has Pistons employees under review until Monday, when most NBA contracts expire. Now that he has completed a minor, though highly publicized, aspect of his job — drafting Spencer Dinwiddie in the second round — Van Gundy must correctly act on those employees.

Will athletic trainer Mike Abdenour return? Will strength coach Arnie Kander?

The Pistons should employ the best people for those positions, and I’d like to believe that that’s Abdenour and Kander. But I might just be nostalgic about two people who have been with the franchise so long.

Getting those calls right could say a lot about whether Dinwiddie pans out. If he regains his mobility, he’s a steal at No. 38 — a first-round talent who fell too far. But if he’s permanently slower, it’s probably a wasted pick.

In the same vein, Van Gundy has yet to announce the fates of George David and Ken Catanella — two front-office assistants under Joe Dumars who ran the team’s draft process until Van Gundy arrived. Surely, that gave David and Catanella a little more sway than they’d usually have.

Again, I’d like to see both return, but my perception might be colored by comfort.

In all, I believe that Van Gundy inherited some impressive employees. A move away from Dumars was overdue, but that doesn’t necessitate throwing out the babies with the bathwater.

Van Gundy has announced an ambitious flowchart containing multiple assistant general managers below Jeff Bower. There should be upcoming interviews, both among current staff members and potential newcomers.

The Pistons have Dinwiddie, which is nice. Now Van Gundy must form the franchise that best supports him — and all the players like him that will follow.

Second-round pick Spencer Dinwiddie fits as a piece to the Pistons’ disjointed puzzle

Stan Van Gundy talked about how he won’t be trying to hit home runs once free agency hits in July.

The Pistons’ new boss said the team would go into the free agency period and, “try to hit three singles, or maybe two singles and a double, and try to drive in a couple runs.”

Well, with the selection of Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie at No. 38, I think he’s smacked a solid single before free agency has even begun.

Dinwiddie isn’t going to wow you with his play, but he’s the kind of player who’s going to go out, do his job and give effort. He fits the old “Goin’ to Work” mantra of the mid-2000s Pistons. He’s rehabbing his knee after tearing his ACL in January, but once he’s healthy he should be a more-than-solid contributor off the bench.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for guys like Dinwiddie. He’s not the youngest or flashiest prospect, but he’s a versatile talent. He plays smart, he takes good shots, he plays some defense and he’s a big point guard at 6-foot-6. His ceiling isn’t that of a future NBA All-Star, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The really good players who end up drafted in the second round happen because teams sometimes look too hard for that “he can potentially be awesome” guy.

Look, the pick of Dinwiddie is no home run — so don’t drink that Koolaid too fast — but with all the “striking out” the Pistons have been doing in the past year, a solid single sure does sound good.

Draft Reality: Spencer Dinwiddie


  • Measurables: 6-6, 205 pounds, junior guard from Colorado

  • Key Stats: 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 46 FG%, 41 3ptFG%, 85 FT% on 7 attempts/game.

  • Drafted: Pick No. 38. 

Fits with the Pistons because …

He’s a talented perimeter player. The Pistons biggest need going into the draft was on the perimeter, and Dinwiddie is the kind of versatile player that makes sense in the second round. He’s an efficient player, and he’s a guy who took care of the ball (1.8 turnovers per game) on a team where he was their ONLY offensive creator.

The issue with Dinwiddie isn’t talent — it’s health. He tore his ACL in a game against Washington on January 12 and probably isn’t quite ready for basketball right now. It’s tough to judge what he can do for the Pistons, but his versatility should help him earn playing time quick when he’s finally healthy.

He’s also a very smart guy, sounds very likable. Watch the video below, he’s got a very Kim English-esque personality.

From the Experts (spoiler: you guys will LOVE the last sentence)

ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote on Thursday:

This is a great pick for the Pistons. Dinwiddie would’ve been a first-round pick if he hadn’t blown out his ACL. He’s a big guard who can play both the 1 and the 2. He’s not a great athlete, but he’s very crafty and has a high basketball IQ. The Pistons could use a player like this in their backcourt. He’s the anti-Brandon Jennings.


Detroit Pistons select Spencer Dinwiddie with the 38th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft

The Pistons have drafted Spencer Dinwiddie out of Colorado.

He was ranked as the 40th best prospect by ESPN’s Chad Ford, 31st best by NBA Draft.net’s Aran Smith, 35th best by SB Nation’s Tyler Lashbrook, and 29th best by Draft Express

I love this pick as Dinwiddie was an above average defender and one of the best shooters in the draft, posting a true shooting percentage of 67%! last season–admittedly in just 17 games. A few more of my thoughts are here, though you’ve probably already seen them if you’re reading this. But I am only one opinion among many. So let’s hear from some more Pistons fans. What do you think?

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