I’ve often pointed out my frustrations with readers who treat this downspell in Pistons basketball as if it’s the worst possible time in the history of the franchise. In reality, it’s not even the franchise’s low point in the last 20 years. The 1990s Pistons were by far more frustrating to watch, made unconsionable decisions routinely (exhibit A: teal unis) and, unlike this version of the Pistons, they actually had a legit superstar, possibly the nicest, most unselfish superstar in the league, who they failed year after year to put competent complimentary pieces around (with apologies to Otis Thorpe, I guess). The Palace had no energy, the few teams Hill dragged that team into the playoffs the Pistons were quickly dispatched by equally boring Atlanta and Miami teams and the culmination was Hill finally became fed up and left as a free agent, but not before his final games as a Piston nearly ruined his career after he gutted it out in unwinnable playoff games on a mangled ankle.
There were bleak times, poor seasons, year after year excuses, a parade of coaches and little hope in that era. But one of my favorite elements of some of those lousy seasons in the 1990s was the 10 Day Contract. Every year, when the Pistons finally came to grips with the fact that they were not making the playoffs, we’d get a couple unknown players in late in the season. Usually, they were terrible (Ivano Newbill). But a couple of times (Michael Curry, Mikki Moore), the Pistons actually found guys who filled a role or brought some toughness or played hard.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting Joe Dumars to find any takers for Rip Hamilton. And even if some scoff at the notion, Tayshaun Prince may very well fetch more in a sign and trade than getting the Dallas first round pick, which would’ve been late first round in a weak draft. Teams likely to be interested in Prince this summer will be contenders. Most of those teams will be at the cap or over it, thus probably not able to offer Prince the full salary he might be looking for, so a sign and trade for him is a viable option that could in the end bring back more than the marginal prospect they would’ve picked in the first round.
But I was hoping for something. I’ve long ago given up on buying into the team’s “we’re a playoff contender” stance. What I wanted was for the Pistons to clear a roster spot. Move an end-of-bench or marginal player for a pick. Do a minor two-for-one trade. Basically, anything to bring back the magic of the 10 Day Contract. And I even had a few candidates, currently in the D-League, who would be worth taking a look at:
- Sean Williams: Just a few years ago, Williams was a first round draft pick by New Jersey. And if he didn’t have some off-court problems in college, he probably would’ve been picked even earlier than he was. Guys who are 6-foot-10 with his athleticism are simply rare. His issues reportedly didn’t go away in the NBA and he quickly flamed out with the Nets without making much of an impact. Now, he’s averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game for the Texas Legends and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. Maybe Williams will never put things together, but talent-wise, he’s a NBA player and he just happens to fill two needs — rebounding and shot blocking — that the Pistons are incredibly deficient in.
- DeShawn Sims: Throwing a bone to the University of Michigan-obsesses overlord of this site who firmly believes Sims will be a “great” NBA player, Sims is actually having a good season in the D League. He’s a little slight by NBA power forward standards listed at a generous 6-foot-8 and he doesn’t have otherwordly athleticism, but Sims scores in the paint and has range out to the 3-point line. He’s averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds per game for Maine while shooting 49 percent, not bad for a guy who is more comfortable shooting jumpers and facing up than posting up.
- Jeff Adrien: This is a moot point since Adrien was just re-signed by Golden State, but had the Pistons moved sooner, they would’ve had a crack at an undersized yet brusing power forward who was the top rebounder in the D-League this season at 11.4 per game (nearly 17 per-48 minutes). Adrien, 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, also averaged nearly 20 points per game in the D-League, using his strength and athleticism to score in the paint against bigger defenders. He’s the type of blue collar player Detroit fans have always loved.
- Courtney Sims: Another Michigan man, this is the taller of the two Sims at 6-foot-11. He’s had a few brief NBA looks in his career, but never stuck. He’s a D-League veteran now, been an All-Star in the league and averages 18 points and 9 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent in 98 career D-League games.
- Scottie Reynolds: Let’s throw a point guard in just for the heck of it. Reynolds, you may remember, was a star at Villanova who found himself in the D-League this year where’ he’s been solid with Springfield where he’s averaging 14 points, 6 assists and 2 turnovers per game. He also shoots 46 percent. Is he the purest of point guards? Probably not, but when has that ever stopped the Pistons?
Unfortunately, it’s not to be. None of the above players would’ve altered the Pistons’ fortunes. In fact, it’s highly likely they wouldn’t even earn a second 10-day contrac based on the odds of cracking a NBA rotation midseason. But at best, the Pistons might have found a cheap player who could help fill a role next season, and with the team’s payroll having little flexibility, the chances to find cheap players to fill holes can never be scoffed at.
Instead, hopefully the Pistons give extended looks to DaJuan Summers and Terrico White when he’s healthy. Summers, very likely, has no future in Detroit. He’s never been given a reasonable number of minutes to prove himself, but he’s also been very unproductive in the minutes he does play. Still though, as Mike Payne pointed out in the comments, if Summers can play a little bit, the Pistons might be able to bring him back as a cheap rotation player next year since they’re likely to lose Prince in free agency.
As for White, his athleticism makes him intriguing and he had good moments in the Summer League. Tracy McGrady and Rodney Stuckey are free agents, so it’s possible the Pistons could have some holes at point guard next season. Hopefully the team is committed to seeing if White can give solid minutes at that spot.