Detroit Pistons Roundtable: How to fix this mess

We’re back for the fourth question of this year’s Detroit Pistons Roundtable. Again, here’s the panel:

I  want to thank everyone listed above for participating. But I don’t want to hear just from them. Please post your answers to the question in the comments.  We can make this an even larger collection of thoughts about the Pistons.

Here’s today’s question:

If you were Joe Dumars, would you be on a one-year plan, two-year plan, three-year plan, etc.? What does your answer mean for this offseason?

Dave Pemberton, The Oakland Press

My top priority this offseason would be to bolster the Pistons frontcourt and help get the team in position to compete for a playoff spot next season. Whether it be in the draft, free agency or a trade, the Pistons have to improve up front. It’s frightening to think how bad Detroit’s frontcourt would have been without Ben Wallace this season.

This all starts with the draft and depending on the pick is likely the best option. Free agency won’t bring anything more than a temporary solution. Signing someone like Brad Miller, Erick Dampier or Brendan Haywood would be an improvement, but not a long-term solution. Bringing back Wallace would be among my plans, but only with a deal similar to the one he had this season.
Re-signing Will Bynum would also be a priority this offseason. Bynum’s a young player that has shown he can provide a nice spark off the bench and fill in as the starting point guard if needed.

Adding young talent this offseason or during next season would be part of my long-term plan because I would be looking to compete for a championship two or three years down the road.

Tayshaun Prince will be an attractive option in trades because of his expiring contract, but I wouldn’t give him away. He’s shown he can still play and with the motivation of getting a new contract could be a nice piece for Detroit next season. I would actively shop other veterans, but make sure I get some value in return.

Chris Iott, Booth Newspapers

Joe Dumars has to be on an "every-year plan." Championship teams are not built overnight or even an offseason. Dumars has his work cut out for him, but no matter what he does, the Pistons are not going to win the 2010-11 NBA title. The Pistons can make a leap forward and make the playoffs next season, but Dumars will have to make one really good to great move in free agency and via a trade in addition to getting it right when it comes to the draft. But even a perfect offseason will leave another year or two of work to do. This truly is a team in transition.

Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press

I wouldn’t necessarily put a time frame on when the Pistons could return to challenging for a title. I would just treat this season as hitting rock bottom and work from there. If it takes one, two, three or however long, that’s how I would treat it. As for this off-season, without even making a move you are looking at a top-five pick, a high second-rounder and the midlevel exception. That offers the potential for three nice pieces (two of those slots should be big guys). And you assume Rip or Tay will be moved so who knows how many more new players will be around.  I will say this off-season will be huge for the future.

Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press

It’s impossible to define how long a plan can be. Dumars made it clear last off-season that he wasn’t content to allow for a long rebuild. So he got aggressive and signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to awful contracts. And with the future of the franchise so unclear, I wonder how aggressive Dumars will be allowed to be. But I’m sure he’d love to unload some contracts, so there will be a lot of proposals and phone calls and offers. But in this economy, what team is going to want Rip Hamilton for three more years at 12.6 mil per year? Dumars has had a very good run as the Pistons GM. And I think he deserves the chance to fix this mess. But he did create the mess. And I don’t see many ways out. At least not in the short term.

Keith Langlois, Detroit Pistons

My answer would be that I won’t limit the possibilities for next season but I also won’t do anything that limits the possibilities beyond next season. I think he’d say his intent is to put the Pistons in the best position to win as many games as possible next season without damaging their future beyond that. Get better now, but avoid the quick fix. He’s more likely to trade veterans for younger talent than vice versa, but I don’t think he’d rule out anything that would improve the Pistons now without recklessly endangering their future. As for what will shape his off-season, I think where the May 18 lottery places them will be a big piece of the picture.

Eli Zaret, Detroit Pistons

I think it’ll be at least a 2- if not a 3-year plan. This offseason he’ll get a top 5 pick; will probably try to trade some of his assets that need a change of scenery, like Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince and use his midlevel exception wisely. Billups was a midlevel back in ’02-’03 and that worked out pretty well.

Patrick Hayes, Full-Court Press

The Pistons aren’t far off. They need what most teams do – a star playmaker, regardless of position. You can’t win in the NBA right now without a guy who can get his own shot on any possession. If the Pistons luck out in the draft and end up with Wall or Turner, then sign a serviceable big for part of the midlevel or make a trade for one, they’ll be a middle of the pack playoff team in the East next year.

This rebuilding project is going to take as long as it takes for the Pistons to get a top two pick in the draft. If that happens this year, they’ll be back soon. If it doesn’t, next year they should be better with improved health, but not significantly enough to become a playoff threat.

Justin Rogers, Full-Court Press

The Pistons are at least two years away, but they can make significant strides this offseason. First and foremost the Pistons can start the turnaround process in the NBA draft.The team is likely to have a top-six-or-seven pick, hopefully top three. Second, Tayshaun Prince’s value is starting to peak again. He’s been fantastic on the last third of the season and he’s entering in the final year of his contract. Dumars should be able to get pretty good value in a trade. Finally, the MLE must be used wisely. Free agency is flooded with superstars, so Dumars should be able to find a bargain on the market. Obviously the goal is to find another player like Billups, a younger player who is hasn’t met their potential, but is willing to work hard. Clearly that’s easier said than done.

Natalie Sitto, Need4Sheed

Right now you want to get better every season. You don’t ever want to be on a two- or three-year plan. You focus around making your team the best you can every season. If it takes three years to make a championship push, so be it, but you need to go all out each year if you think you have the pieces that might work together.

As far as the offseason, Dumars needs size. Kwame Brown is gone, Ben Wallace might retire, and Chris Wilcox was like a ghost all season. That just leaves the undersized Jason Maxiell. If Austin Daye doesn’t go on a weightlifting, eating binge during the summer or gets blasted with whatever Bruce Banner did, the Pistons are in serious trouble.

Dumars also either needs to resign Will Bynum, who will get much more than his $825,000 salary next season, or find a point guard to take his place.

As for the current duo of Tayshaun and Rip, I’m sure he’ll take calls on both. Rip has a difficult contract to move, but Tayshaun’s 12 million will come off the books after the 2011 season, so the Pistons could get someone to make that deal.

Brian Packey, Detroit Bad Boys

Presumably, the Pistons are going to add 2-3 quality talents this off-season with the draft and the MLE. Hopefully, one of those will be the big-man, paint presence the Pistons so desperately need. Of course, whether this year was a result of all the injuries, or a true indication of the talent on this team will also affect Joe’s plan significantly.

Kevin Sawyer, Detroit Bad Boys

I’d look toward 2011-2012. Gordon and Villanueva will still be in their 20s, Stuckey will be hitting his stride, Austin Daye should be a major player and our lottery pick will have a year under his belt. I think Dumars needs to think about what he can do to move Hamilton. If that means moving an asset (like Jerebko, or even a draft pick), I think that he should consider doing so.

That said, economics being what they are, I wouldn’t hesitate to spend a few million toward a playoff push next year.   

Mike Payne, Detroit Bad Boys

Although I’d love to see Joe Dumars turn this ship around in one, two or even three years, I remain pessimistic about the future. The Pistons are locked into some serious contracts with under-performing players and a roster with no real identity. Sadly, my hope for this team’s future is entirely dependent on numbered balls in a lottery machine.

If Detroit winds up with any of the top three picks, the future will again be bright. I like DeMarcus Cousins and Evan Turner a lot more than I like John Wall, and would prefer either going forward. If we draft 4th or beyond, we’ll likely snag a role player and a longer wait for a turn-around.

Should we draft after the top three are taken, and Minnesota nets DeMarcus Cousins, we could find a trade partner in Wolves GM David Kahn. I suggested a trade scenario with Minny back in January, moving Tayshaun and Stuckey for Jefferson and Sessions. If Minnesota drafts Cousins they will most certainly move Jefferson, and Detroit should do whatever it can to bring him to Detroit. A starting line of Sessions, Gordon, Jerebko, Jefferson and Aldrich sounds quite attractive to me (well, any lineup with Jerebko is attractive, of course). Although some may question giving Sessions the keys at the point, he is precisely the kind of rare player that ends up making a GM look brilliant – just like Chauncey did of Dumars many years ago.

Jesse Murphy, Pistons Nation

That’s a tough question because of the salary commitments that Joe has made the past few seasons, see question #2.

Jon Young, Flagrant2

If I was Joe Dumars I would be on a one-year plan.

The Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva contracts look real bad right now, and the chance of shedding them is unlikely. If they could find any team willing to trade an above average big man for Rip I would jump on it.

The offseason depends a lot on the draft. If the Pistons get the #1 pick I think they would get John Wall at point guard and move Stuckey to the 2 guard. That would make trading Rip a lot easier. If they get a big man in the draft they could cut Chucky Atkins and go for a veteran point guard, not even necessary to start but to help run the team and manage the offense (Jason Williams for example).

The Pistons need to find a big man this offseason, preferably one who can shoot the ball maybe a Brad Miller type. The post has been very weak this year. I don’t see any point in resigning Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox hasn’t done nearly as much as expected and Ben Wallace isn’t going to give you a scoring option. If the Pistons can draft a solid big man and keep Ben Wallace around for defense, the post situation will at the very least upgrade from this year. Tayshaun has been playing good lately and he might be the best option for acquiring a big man through trade, which if you’re Joe Dumars you have to be looking for.

Jonas is most likely going to improve next year, Charlie V has something to prove, and Ben Gordon can’t be any worse than this season. Through the draft, hopefully a trade, and development of the current roster the Pistons should improve in the next few seasons.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered

I’d be on a one-year plan – almost completely.

I’d still draft the best player available rather than someone with limited upside who’s more apt to contribute right away. And I wouldn’t trade Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko or Austin Daye for someone much older.

But I’d be willing to trade Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon or Will Bynum for someone with less upside, but who would be better right now.

I’d also go for need over luxury in free agency – not what Joe Dumars did with Ben Gordon last summer.

Dumars isn’t stupid. He knows Gordon plays a similar role to Richard Hamilton. But I think he saw Gordon as the type of special player on whom you don’t pass. (Whether he’s right remains to be seen.)

I’d use the mid-level exception on the big man who can help Detroit most right now – regardless of his age. Luis Scola or Marcus Camby would be ideal, but they’re probably a stretch. Someone like Jermaine O’Neal, Udonis Haslem or Drew Gooden would likely make more sense.

The goal should be to get good right away, especially because it will increase the value of the expensive players the Pistons already have. Detroit’s high-priced players are good, but if they play for a loser too long, their value will plummet.

Look at Andre Iguodala, Elton Brandon and Samuel Dalembert in Philadelphia. They’re overpaid, but all three can still play. Their trade value is shot because the 76ers have been so miserable.

On the other hand, check out Rashard Lewis in Orlando or Kenyon Martin in Denver. They’re overpaid and productive, too. But their trade value is much higher than it should be because their teams are so good.

Winning masks a lot of issues, and the Pistons have plenty of those. Winning won’t make the problems completely disappear, but it will make them a lot easier to fix.


Like with the other questions, please post your answer in the comments. I’d like this roundtable to involve everyone reading, too.

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Tags: Austin Daye Ben Wallace Charlie Villanueva Chris Wilcox Jonas Jerebko Kwame Brown Richard Hamilton Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Will Bynum

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