OK, I’ve finally come around.
The Pistons should dump Richard Hamilton.
There’s no need to acquire assets in return. Although doing so would be a plus, it’s no longer necessary.
Before we go any further, this is based on a couple assumptions. If these two conditions aren’t the case, Detroit shouldn’t dump Hamilton:
- Tracy McGrady is relatively healthy. If he’s not, the Pistons shouldn’t have signed him.
- The Pistons didn’t sign McGrady only to fill out the roster. That would mean they’re cutting DaJuan Summers (because as last year showed, they’re perfectly content with carrying 14 players). If filling out the roster was the objective, they should’ve waived Summers before his contract became fully guaranteed June 30.
One, but not two, too many shooting guards
I’ve long maintained Hamilton had value as was worth keeping. And I agreed that keeping both Hamilton and Ben Gordon limited both. But I thought, and still think, having Hamilton with Gordon was better than having just Gordon.
But adding McGrady to the mix puts me into the trade-Hamilton-before-the-season camp.
I believe the Pistons have a pretty good idea in what Hamilton and Gordon give them. I don’t think they know what McGrady provides, and the only way to find out is to give him minutes.
Of course, they don’t have to find out. Financially, the risk of not finding out is low. They only signed McGrady to a one-year minimum contract. But the intangible risk is high.
McGrady didn’t come to Detroit to sit. He might be fine coming off the bench – emphasis on might – but he won’t be OK not playing. And he’s not the type to sit back quietly and not become a distraction.
There was no point to signing McGrady if you’re not going to give him an honest shot at showing he’s still got it – or close enough to it that he can sign a multi-year deal in the offseason. McGrady can’t get that shot with Hamilton on the team.
Trading Hamilton might be a little tricky. Keep in mind only the Cavaliers, Raptors, Timberwolves and Kings could absorb Hamilton’s contract without sending a player to Detroit in return. (You could also include Charlotte with Erick Dampier’s contract, because the Pistons could waive him after the trade at no cost to them.)
Of course, there are other teams that could trade an expiring contract for Hamilton. A popular version – Hamilton to the Knicks for Eddy Curry – would mean Curry’s $5 million trade kicker, er, kicks in. So, that probably wouldn’t work, but I think there are other options out there.
Not a rush
I don’t think this is such a dire problem the Pistons should send a draft pick or some other type of sweetener to one of these teams to take Hamilton. Shedding him might be beneficial, but it’s not necessary to do at all costs.
I still have faith Hamilton will rebound from his poor season of a year ago. But that’s far from a guarantee. With Gordon and McGrady in the fold, it’s no longer worth taking the risk Hamilton doesn’t return to form.
Of course, if Hamilton again becomes an efficient and team-leading scorer, giving him away will have been a mistake. But I’m willing to take that chance.
If someone will take Hamilton now, send him.