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Pistons offseason preview

June 9, 2010

John Stroba- Writer

In arguably the worst season under Joe Dumars watch, the Pistons are going into the offseason looking to get tougher and refind their identity. To be fair though, this mess during the season is not what he did envision. Recent talk from guys like Drew Sharp and Matt Shepard on WDFN are saying that Karen Davidson, Bill Davidson's widow, is that Davidson did nix part of the Dumars plan last offseason.

The plan did look like this. Utah and Detroit did have an agreement for a trade to take place after last year's Free Agency. Detroit would deal SG Rip Hamilton to Utah for PF Carlos Boozer. That would give the Jazz a shooting guard they really needed and a very good player for Boozer who they are definitely going to lose for nothing this offseason. The Pistons would get a very good inside player that would put up a consistent 20/10 for them. In addition, the inside scoring would make Ben Gordon (who would move into the starting lineup) and Charlie Villanueva much more effective players. Villanueva would get a bigger boost because he cannot create his own shot like Gordon can. If the Pistons decide that Boozer is not going to work out for them, then they would not resign him and his huge contract would come off the books at the end of the season.

Karen Davidson, supposedly, did let the Gordon and Villanueva signings happen, but then does nix the Rip/Boozer deal. The best guess is that is because she is afraid of paying a guy like Boozer a long term deal. Dumars does not have a recourse after the nix happens and what fans got is that mess this year. Given Karen Davidson's inability to run the Pistons on what looks to be anything but the cheap, that casts doubt over what Dumars can do this summer. An opportunity does exist for the last bits of the Championship team to be moved this offseason. One thing is clear though that at least one of Rip Hamilton/ Tayshaun Prince needs to be moved this offseason.

The obivous deal would be talking with the 76ers about Elton Brand and their #2 overall pick. 76ers Head Coach Doug Collins is a big Rip Hamilton fan and Rip is from Philly. Elton Brand is not the player that he once was before the injuries, but he is still a solid inside scoring/rebounding presence. Even, if Dumars does want Brand will Davidson sign off on a large contract that does have 2 years on it after next season? If Davidson does tighten the purse strings, then look for the Pistons to stay at #7 and be very dull in the offseason this year. However, let us assume that she does let Dumars do what he think is the best for the team. I could see the following trade happening for the Pistons.

Rip Hamilton, Chris Wilcox and the #7 draft pick to the 76ers for Elton Brand and the #2 pick

The 76ers know they are going to be very lucky to find a taker for Brand's contract, and that is why they are willing to package the #2 along with it. While Rip does not get them much in the way of cap relief they do get some in the form of Wilcox and they move down 5 spots in this draft, still very much able to get a quality player at that point.

With the #2 pick, the Pistons would take Derrick Favors a one and done player from Georgia Tech. Favors is a very good shotblocker, rebounder and defender. His athletic skills are very good as well, and he should be capable of playing the 5 spot sooner than later given his body type. Now the Pistons would have a couple tough down low players and one in Favors that some compare to a pre-injury Antonio McDyess as the best case possibility. Those that remember McDyess back then it makes the mouth salivate.

The next move that I could see the Pistons making is one that no one seems to be talking about, but it makes a lot of sense for both teams. Sitting at the #8 spot are the LA Clippers. The Clippers do have a lot of cap space (only 33 million dollars against the cap), but let us be honest here the chances of the Clippers landing one of the top Free Agents this offseason is only slightly greater than Oprah staying thin. It remains to be seen if the Clippers do see it that way. However, if they are willing to step back in FA this season and get a starter at the 3 then this deal might work.

Tayshaun Prince to the LA Clippers for the #8 overall pick.

While Tayshaun does say that he wants to stay in Detroit (and there is no reason to doubt that statement), going home to play(Prince is from Compton) is a nice consolation prize. And he does have an expiring contract as well, which makes teams covet him even more. The Clippers would be getting a starting SF as well giving them a little over 11.3 million to entice some more players to come and fill out their rotation. It is hard to believe that the Clippers are going to drafting someone at #8 that is going to have a large impact on FA decisions, and with so many teams having a lot of cap and not a lot creme FAs out there Prince might be a very nice investment.

Now, the question that remains (well besides if Davidson would go for any of this) is who would the Pistons be looking at with the #8 overall pick after getting Brand and Favors. Would Dumars be happy with a rotation of Favors, Brand, Maxiell, Villanueva and maybe Ben Wallace (if he comes back) down low. Villanueva could see some time at the 3 next year as well. If Ben does not come back then the Pistons might look for some more toughness and a defensive presence with Cole Aldrich. The other added benefit getting Aldrich is that now there is some nice depth down low, and it is a long time since Detroit fans could say that. It also opens some minutes at the 3 for Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye to fight it out in preseason. Again that depends on what Dumars thinks of those two. He could go out in FA and grab at 3 at the MLE.

At the #36 pick, Detroit should go BPA and let those chips fall where they may.

Piston Free Agents

The Pistons do have several FAs that they do have to make decisions on some of those are easier than others. It is hard to see the Pistons wanting Chucky Atkins or Kwame Brown back at all. That leaves Ben Wallace and Will Bynum. Indications are that Dumars does want Big Ben to come back for another year, and if Ben does not retire he will be coming back to the Pistons though it might be in a much more reduced role.

Will Bynum is an interesting case though. An ankle injury really does seem to impact his defense this year. Offensively he is a pretty good point though he does not have great range on his shot. Free Agency does not seem to have a great crop of points this time around. If the numbers are right I can see Bynum coming back, but almost certainly there will be another point signed to compete with him.

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