The Detroit Pistons announced the maybe-signing, maybe-training camp invite to free agent small forward Damien Wilkins recently. The latest news seems to indicate he has been given a guaranteed contract, btw. They’ve also been linked to free agents Reggie Williams and Willie Green.
Pistons fans are not happy. Here we go again, they seem to say. Another combo-guard. Another wing. Another player we don’t need in positions we’re already well stocked in. Where is our big man? Why can’t we replace Rodney Stuckey with a real point guard? Why aren’t we doing X? Why can’t we trade for Y?
Well, I’ve got news for you, Pistons fans. Chauncey Billups is not walking through that door. Dwight Howard is not walking through that door, and Nene is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they’re going to be overpaid and on the downside of their careers.
What the Pistons are is young, exciting, hard-working, and they’re going to improve. People don’t realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that (locker) room playing their asses off.
I wish the Pistons had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish they could buy the world. They can’t; the only thing they can do is work hard, and all the negativity that’s in Motown sucks. I’ve been around when Ben Wallace was booed. I’ve been around when Richard Hamilton was booed. And it stinks. It makes the greatest town, greatest city in the world, lousy.
The only thing that will turn this around is being upbeat and positive like they are in their locker room … and if you think I’m going to succumb to negativity, you’re wrong. *
Once the Pistons announced they would not be using the amnesty provision, it became clear that this season was about seeing what the Pistons have, not getting rid of everything already in place. The one thing that could change that, of course, is the ongoing Rodney Stuckey negotiations. He could either accept his restricted free agency offer, sign an offer sheet with another team and leave Detroit, or sign an offer sheet and the Pistons and the other team could work out a sign and trade.
But barring something unexpected, the Pistons you see are going to be the team you get on opening night. Even discounting the reported interest in the above free agents, lets examine the Pistons roster.
- Point Guard: Rodney Stuckey(?), Will Bynum, Brandon Knight
- Shooting Guard: Ben Gordon
- Small Forward: Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye
- Power Forward: Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva, Vernon Macklin
- Center: Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace, Jason Maxiell
Looking at a rough guesstimate of the depth chart, it becomes obvious where the Pistons need bodies, especially considering the truncated schedule of training camp and the regular season. It’s almost like Pistons fans are so used to having a messy logjam at certain positions, they are discounting the fact that the team now needs depth at those same positions.
Last season, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey were all players that thought they were 30 minute per night guys. And you also had Will Bynum who was coming fresh off of an extension and warranted 20 minutes per night. But the reality is that they could play only two spots (point guard and shooting guard), so there was only 96 minutes to split among them for the whole game.
The Pistons are now in a position to sign some low-tier guys as injury insurance and to help liven up practice. And that latter point shouldn’t be underestimated. The Pistons have a new head coach in Lawrence Frank. He is implementing a whole new system and is coming fresh off of a couple years focusing on defense for the championship Boston Celtics. He is going to want to teach the Pistons players his system, and he is going to want to bring in players that can effectively run his system.
That is where guys like Damien Wilkins and Reggie Williams have value. Situational role players that can be plugged in to execute whatever is needed. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pistons took a flier on a big man on the caliber of a Wilkins or Williams. After all, what would you rather have: a stopgap on a Wilkins-level salary or Glen Davis signed for four years and $28 million? (PS: This is not an invitation to again criticize the Tayshaun Prince deal).
* In case you are unaware, the headline and the asterisked paragraph are inspired by an awesome Rick Pitino meltdown after a tough loss to the Toronto Raptors.