Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. How do you grade the Pistons’ trade for Jose Calderon?
Patrick Hayes: A. Joe Dumars accomplished three pretty remarkable things. He moved Tayshaun Prince‘s significant long-term money for an expiring contract. He did not have to give up an asset to get a team to take on that money (apologies to Austin Daye). The “rental” player he received in return is actual a really useful veteran who solves the team’s biggest weaknesses – shooting, passing and ability to take care of the basketball at the point guard spot.
Brady Fredericksen: A. Not only did the Pistons rid themselves of a big contract and declining vet in Tayshaun Prince (and it does stink to see him go from a fan point of view), they gained $10 million in expiring contracts with Jose Calderon. Austin Daye "turned the corner" about five times in Detroit, so maybe he can make it a sixth in Memphis. The biggest thing is that Calderon is more than an expiring deal — he’s a legitimate NBA point guard who’s going to make his new teammates’ lives easier.
Jameson Draper: A. Although Austin Daye was finally starting to play to his potential, it was good to get rid of the Tayshaun Prince dead weight. Getting Jose Calderon is fantastic, because, unlike Brandon Knight, he is a true point guard. Knight is good, but probably shouldn’t be the starting point guard. Calderon has an assist percentage of 43.5, and Knight’s is only 22.9. It’s becoming clear that Dumars is building the team around Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and acquiring Calderon, who can get the ball to them, is a step in the right direction.
2. Who should start for the Pistons now?
Patrick Hayes: Calderon-Knight-Singler-Monroe-Drummond. The Pistons are already shaking up their lineup with someone having to move into Prince’s spot, so why not just blow it up and start all over by putting Drummond in the lineup too? Calderon’s major weakness is defense, but with a rim-protector in the lineup, it’s less of an issue. And Knight/ Rodney Stuckey is a toss-up for me, but I’d lean toward Knight starting because, 1., I am skeptical Stuckey has much of a future here while Knight still likely does, and 2., the Pistons could surround Monroe and Drummond with three very good shooters in the starting lineup. Let Stuckey and Will Bynum anchor a second unit with Jonas Jerebko and Jason Maxiell that just runs the ball up and down the court at a frenetic pace.
Brady Fredericksen: Calderon-Knight-Singler-Monroe-Drummond. That lineup is going to have its struggles defenses, but it has so much potential to be really fun on offense. We saw a prime example on Sunday in Orlando that when Knight’s has good looks created for him, he’s a really good floor-spacing scorer; ditto for Singler. Calderon will bring playmaking and shooting to the team, which will help the bigs, too. I’ve worried that taking Drummond away from the second unit would hurt their productivity, but that lineup has its own reworking to deal with now, anyway.
Jameson Draper: Calderon-Knight-Singler-Monroe-Drummond. Calderon’s a great true point guard, but Knight’s still the best option at the two guard. Let’s not forget the 31 points he dropped against Orlando on Sunday. Singler is probably the best candidate to replace Prince at starting small forward. Drummond and Monroe should also start together, but Lawrence Frank will probably still start Maxiell over Drummond for some unknown reason.
3. How will the trade affect the Pistons’ playoff chances?
Patrick Hayes: It helps, but they’re still a longshot. We still don’t know whether Calderon wants to be in Detroit or whether he’ll be thinking about his next stop as a free agent. We don’t know if Knight will bristle at a potential implication that the Pistons aren’t sold (and they shouldn’t be) on his point-guard abilities. We don’t know how long it will take the offense to adjust to playing with someone who actually understands how to run an offense. The Pistons would need a lot to go right for the team to put together enough wins to close the gap on Boston in the playoff race.
Maybe Dan’s been a bit more realistic about those chances than I am, but I’m an eternal optimist and think this helps those chances mightily. The Rondo-less Celtics aren’t in any better spot than the Pistons and Philly has been a mess this month. They get Andrew Bynum and his awful hair back soon, but how can you guarantee he’s going to be healthy, and is he going to affect the growth of Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young? The Pistons’ (surprisingly solid) defense is going to suffer without Prince, but Calderon’s ability to execute and create is going to help every Pistons player — and that might be what this team needs most in the second half.
Jameson Draper: This trade indicates that the Pistons are trying to make a playoff run, which is nice to see. The real threats seem to be the 76ers with Bynum returning soon, the Celtics, who are limping – no pun intended – without Rajon Rondo, and the Raptors, who just acquired Rudy Gay but lost Calderon and Ed Davis. It will be tight, but if Calderon can get the ball to Monroe and Drummond, I wouldn’t be surprised if Detroit sneaks in to the playoffs.