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. What was your initial reaction to the Pistons surprising signing of Jodie Meeks to a 3-year, $19 million deal?
Dan Feldman:They paid how much? What do Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Bower and Ken Catanella see in him that I don’t? I’m bullish on those three assembling a roster, but I’m not sold on this move. It really seems Van Gundy the Coach wanted a shooting guard who can make 3-pointers, and Van Gundy the Coach doesn’t care about how much that costs. Van Gundy the President listened to Van Gundy the Coach.
Brady Fredericksen: I actually heard about it while standing in line to board a flight. I saw the signing pop up on Twitter, got on the plane and had to fly two hours to Atlanta without access to the internet. That meant limited Twitter reaction, zero chance to look at stats and two hours to think about how convince myself the Pistons didn’t overpay him. Well, I got off that flight and still thought the Pistons overpaid, but at the same time, I didn’t really hate it. My logic is that I don’t think this isn’t like any other signing — good or bad — that the Pistons have had in recent years. This isn’t Joe Dumars overpaying some player and telling INSERT BAD COACH HERE to figure out how to make it work. This is Stan Van Gundy hand picking guys who he thinks will fit what he likes to do as a coach. That’s a very important way to think about it.
Tim Thielke: That is way too much for a good but not great shooter who barely contributes in any other way.
2. Meeks is coming off a career-year with the Lakers. What do you expect from him in Detroit this season?
Dan Feldman: That he makes the team better than it was last year. The Pistons desperately need shooters, and Meeks is one. He’ll defend hard enough, and maybe other parts of his game are coming around a bit. My bigger question was whether his money could have been put toward even greater improvement by acquiring someone else.
Brady Fredericksen: He’ll shoot a lot. He’ll have streaks where he looks worth the big contract and he’ll have stretches where he looks pretty bad. He’ll fill the same role as Rodney Stuckey and it won’t be a bad thing. As long as Meeks can come in and make shots, everything will be alright. Once he steps on the court on opening night, he’ll be the Pistons best shooter (I’m excluding those 28 games of Jose Calderon in 2013) since Ben Gordon in 2011. Yikes.
Tim Thielke: He should be just entering his prime, so I expect better than his career averages thus far. On the other hand, he’s coming off a season that was leaps and bounds better than anything he’d done to that point. Smart money says he’ll be worse than that. So I’d put him somewhere between those levels of play and will generously lean more toward last season. Let’s say 30 mpg, 13 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1 spg, 44/39/87?
3. What is your biggest concern with Meeks?
Dan Feldman: The opportunity cost of paying Meeks so mcuch. At only three years, Meeks’ contract isn’t ridiculous. But I believe he’s overpaid, and he could limit Detroit’s ability to upgrade. The Pistons will still have plenty of flexibility, but hopefully, he’s not the difference that prevents a favorable deal someday.
Brady Fredericksen: To steal a line from Michigan State hoops coach Tom Izzo, I’d be nervous that after signing his deal he’ll be “fat and sassy.” But at the same time, I don’t know if that’s how Meeks is wired — I also don’t know how he’s wired anyway. Buttt, he battled through an awful situation during the Billy Gillispie years at Kentucky, he made himself into a useful player as a late second round pick, and now he’s finally earned some dough. I’m going to hold off on throwing him into the same grave as “Smoove Charlie Gordon-Jennings” at this point.
Tim Thielke: That he has no upside. He’s a a solid role player. I have no worries that he’ll flop like Gordon or Charlie Villanueva. But I think he lives up to his contract at best. I’d put the odds of him outplaying it well under 10 percent.