Written by Steve Kays (@KaysOnTheNBA)
The Pistons’ two mainstays from the 2004 title team just don’t fit in with this team anymore. The future is Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye, and Charlie Villuneuva. That’s it. Everyone else (at the moment) is expendable. Is it any surprise that when Rip and Tay came back that the Pistons started losing at an alarming rate? When those two weren’t playing, everyone on the team had a more defined role. Daye and Jerebko got lots of playing time. It was all good. But Rip and Tay returned and expected their old spots and roles back. The losing started getting bad, even though the team was mostly healthy.
Tayshaun has played terribly (when he has played) this season. I fully expect him to be traded within the next 12 months. Why? Because the Pistons drafted 3 small forwards in the last draft. 3! I’m thinking that Detroit expects at least one of those guys to replace him. I like Tayshaun, I do. But he never made the leap that a lot of Pistons fans thought he would. Just check out his stat lines from the past few seasons. He gives yours team 14 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg, year in and year out. Good FG%. Solid (although fading) defense. He peaked before people knew he peaked. He’s not a bad player, even though he had his worst performances when it mattered most in the playoffs, but he’d be much better off on a contending team that needs a versatile, solid defender and shooter. But right now he’s just taking playing time away from young Daye and Jerebko.
As for Rip, he needs to be traded even more so. While Prince has two young prospects playing behind him, Rip is starting in front of a better player in Ben Gordon. Gordon’s younger and essentially better in every way than Rip. It also doesn’t make sense to pay two shooting guards a combined $21+ million in salary, unless he’s Kobe Bryant. Further compounding the problem is when Rip and Gordon play together, it forces Rip to play the small forward position which is just not good. It won’t be easy to move Rip since he has a long and expensive contract and most teams are looking to shed salary right now. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult.
Both Rip and Tayshaun will be hard to trade right now because they haven’t proved they’re completely healthy yet. Once (if) they do, then I expect Tay to be traded by the February trade deadline and Rip to be traded by February 2011. I like both of these players. It was a joy to watch them win so many games this past decade while capturing a title in 2004. But these Pistons are probably only going to win 26-30 games. I’d much rather have Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko playing 30 minutes a game and gaining valuable experience rather than Rip and Tayshaun play 35 minutes game. If they’re going to lose, they might as well develop their young guys in the process.