Stuckey is just as likely to outplay the deal as he is to become Joe Dumars’ latest mistake. Three years and $25 million a great compromise between the five years and $40 million that the Pistons reportedly offered and the $10 million per year Stuckey supposedly wanted. In theory, both sides will get a chance to learn more about each other.
But this won’t be any easier in 2014.
The way I see it, there are three possibilities if Stuckey becomes a Pistons free agent in three years – none of which would place Detroit in ideal position.
1. Stuckey underperforms. This is pretty self-explanatory. The Pistons can’t really afford to have another* one of its players, especially their second-highest-paid player, have his production fall below his salary.
*Have I mentioned Detroit’s three(!) amnesty candidates?
2. Stuckey takes the next step and become a star. In the short term, that would be great. But in three years, unlike this time, Stuckey would have leverage as an unrestricted free agent. There are strong signs he wants out, and the Pistons only option for keeping him could very well be to overpay.
3. Stuckey plays like an $8.3 million-per-season player. He hasn’t done that yet, so it would take modest improvements. But that’s what Stuckey does: make modest improvements without reaching star status.
PER isn’t a perfect stat, but it gives a rough approximation of a player’s value. Stuckey’s PER has risen each year he’s been in the league, from 2007-08 to 2010-11.
Just 11 other players have had their PER rise between each of those seasons. In reputation and compensation, they’re much better off that Stuckey:
- Al Horford (five years, $60 million in 2010)
*The average of estimates by Kalen Deremo and Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company for the contract Chandler, who signed during the lockout to play in China, would receive now as an NBA free agent.
On average, that’s 4.4 years and $46.7 million – likely in line with what Stuckey would seek with his next contract if continues to make modest improvements without reaching the next level. Is a non-star really worth that?
Hopefully, the Pistons won’t have to answer that question, or deal with the other two possibilities. With the handcuffs off, Dumars should do what he couldn’t do leading up to Stuckey’s first free agency: trade him.
That will be easier if Brandon Knight develops into a top-flight point guard and because Stuckey didn’t accept the qualifying offer, which would have given him a no-trade clause.
The Pistons were in a lose-lose situation with Stuckey now – either keep a less-than-stellar fit or let a talented player walk for nothing. They’re headed down the same path again. This time, they have a chance to do something about it, and they should.
Trade Stuckey before his contract ends.