Pistons roundtable: Rodney Stuckey’s long-term value and importance

3. I asked this question last year, but I’m not sure the answer is any clearer, so I’ll ask again. Rodney Stuckey has been a key part of the Pistons’ long-term plans. Should that status change?

Dave Hogg, Associated Press freelancer

No. He doesn’t think like a point guard, and he isn’t a good enough shooter to be an outstanding 2. Is there a chance that working with the right coach could turn him into a point? Sure. I don’t think the Pistons are in a position to take that chance.

Dave Pemberton, The Oakland Press

The Pistons have a huge decision to make this offseason in regards to Stuckey since he is a restricted free agent. To re-sign Stuckey the Pistons will have to give him at minimum a five year, $40 million deal, which is the deal Memphis gave Mike Conley. Everything is subject to the new CBA, but that likely won’t be enough. Stuckey could command as much as $10 million a season or could find a team willing to give him even more than that. Detroit needs to decide if Stuckey is worth that long-term commitment.

If I was running the show, I would go as high as $9 million a season because Stuckey has shown he can be a very productive NBA player at both guard positions. The problem for Detroit is it doesn’t have any real alternative at point guard if Stuckey leaves. Tracy McGrady is gone at the end of the season and Will Bynum is best served as an energy point guard off the bench. Odds are the Pistons will re-sign Stuckey, and the only question is will they overpay for him?

Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press

Sometimes, we act on what we’re told rather than what we see. We were told that “Avatar” was a great movie. Then we saw it, and it was awful. So what was it? We were told that it was good, so we tended to overrate it (Oscar nomination … billions worldwide).

I think Rodney Stuckey is Avatar. Well … that’s not fair. He’s better than Avatar. But because he played pretty well in the 2008 playoffs and because Joe Dumars singled him out as virtually untouchable in the immediate aftermath, we’ve viewed him through rose-colored glasses ever since.

But when you really watch him, you see what he is. He’s a good player. He’s got the ability – at times – to take over games. But he’s not an All-Star. He’s not a franchise player. And there have been times this year when he hasn’t even been one of the top two guards on the roster.

So really, the talk about Stuckey makes no sense. The Pistons shouldn’t just dump him. But if the right offer comes along, they should certainly listen. Stuckey is finishing his fourth season in the league. He’s had some obstacles along the way and he’s played for three different coaches. But most guards make their impact by their fourth season, and Stuckey’s overall impact remains minimal.

Justin Rogers, MLive.com

Stuckey has a lot of flaws, but is a above-average basketball player who has improved every season.  It would be foolish to consider him untouchable, but it would be bad business to let him walk away in free agency and get nothing in return. 

Mike Payne, Detroit Bad Boys

I was hoping his status as a "key part" of the Pistons future would have already changed.  Last year, I suggested the he should be moved now in hopes of bringing back some value elsewhere.  If he couldn’t be moved, I thought he might thrive in a bench role as an on-the-ball sixth man at either guard position.  I still do.  The thing is, since he’s scored a lot of points in the last two years, he’ll likely be overpaid this summer and will be too expensive to be used as a bench player.  I’m hoping that Rodney is not resigned in Detroit, but I would have preferred that he had been traded so the Pistons could have held on to more than just a few million in salary relief.  If we start next season with Rodney starting at the point, it will be very difficult to continue watching this team regularly.

Brian Packey, Detroit Bad Boys

Stuckey has improved this season in some aspects (namely at finishing around the rim and dishing out when it’s not there) and has shown flashes of brilliance at times (the four games before the Spurs game for instance). At the same time, there’s been plenty of frustrating times when he has reverted to the old, not-indicative-of-a-franchise-point-guard Stuckey (turnovers cancelling out low assist numbers, bad mid-range jacks, and out-of-control plows through the lane that yield no rewards). Then there was the whole inexcusable insubordination issue, too.

Depending on the deal, I don’t think keeping Stuckey would be a massive mistake, but, as I said last year, the Pistons should consider what they can get for him (via a sign-and-trade, assuming Detroit is not matching an offer sheet, in which case they can’t sign-and-trade). I’d be disappointed, though, if they let him walk into a deal elsewhere that would’ve been worth matching.

Kevin Sawyer, Detroit Bad Boys

My answer is the same, as he has continued to improve incrementally throughout his career. At the right price, he should be in the plans, because he think he will emerge as something close to a star, and he is young enough to contribute at a high level when the Pistons are more competitive.

But Joe D. has to be willing to run the risk of a bidding war. I think it’s unlikely to materialize, since Stuckey’s scoring numbers are unspectacular. Again, something along the lines of five years at $35 million would be fine by me.

Natalie Sitto, Need4Sheed.com

It’s not that I’m not a fan of Stuckey, but I don’t think he’s a guy to build around. Part of that is his role on the team. Is he a point guard? Can he lead the team? Is he better at the two?

The Pistons have been building around him since Chauncey was shipped to Denver, and we’ve seen the results.  He just hasn’t been consistent enough or gotten over that hump, and the Pistons are in no shape to wait it out.

Ben Gulker, Pistons by the Numbers

I’ve been critical of the Pistons’ evaluation of Stuckey as a "key piece" and "part of the core," and I’ve been very vocal about it.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I think Stuckey is a bad player. I think he’d make a fine third or fourth guard for a playoff team, where his minutes and role could be adaptable to matchups. We’ve seen glimpses of what that could look like this season, when McGrady and Stuckey have been paired together, which has allowed Stuckey exploit his size and strength against smaller defenders.

But is he good enough to be a full-time starter at either guard position? He has yet to prove that to me. If he commands the payday that he seems likely to, I think the Pistons would be better off parting ways. The Pistons simply cannot afford to pay another player big money if he hasn’t clearly established himself as a deserving starter.

Steve Kays, DetroitBasketball.net

It depends in what aspect. At this point he’s not going to be the next Chauncey Billups. But he’s not worthless, either. He is a good combo guard that could start for many teams, but would probably be better coming off the bench like he did in 2007-2008. His stats have alarmingly plateaued – and in some cases gotten worse – over the past three seasons.

But on the other hand, a Pistons team without Stuckey next season would feature guards Will Bynum, Terrico White, Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon. Those four players all have serious weaknesses in their games. Stuckey is still the team’s best penetrator and perimeter defender. While he isn’t Billups, he could still have a promising future in Detroit. But only at the right price. Anything more than $6 million-$7 million a season seems too much.

I’m much rather have a “true” point guard starting (so many point guards available…), but at the moment Stuckey remains the team’s best option at the 1 spot, especially with Tracy McGrady unlikely to return next season.

Jakob Eich, Bynumite Blog

Yes! Dumars got him as a franchise player. He is not a franchise player.

He could be a great player on a contender. Trade him, get some talent (maybe a real point guard??) and a first-rounder in return. Rip is not tradeable, and the Pistons have a logjam at shooting guard. Try something new. It’s time. It does not have to be a great player Detroit gets in return. I’m just tired of waiting for Stuckey to become great.

He has all the tools, but is he good enough mentally? I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I think it would be better for both parties if they parted.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered

I hate that the Pistons are in a position where this question is still relevant.

In all likelihood, Rodney Stuckey, who’s still on his rookie contract, will never become a more valuable player than he has been the last few years. The Pistons should have traded him while they could.

Now what?

Do they re-sign him for what will likely be an overpriced contract? Do they let him walk and get nothing in return?

They’re facing a sizable dilemma and the only favorable solution is re-signing Stuckey and hoping he reaches the next level that has eluded him for so long, even if that’s unlikely to happen. I just hope his next contract, if it goes north of $8 million per season, ends before or when Ben Gordon’s and Charlie Villanueva’s do. That way, the payroll will be structured in a way that can end this mess rather than perpetually continuing it.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered

It’s a pretty good guess that, if there’s a NBA season next year, Rodney Stuckey will sign the Pistons’ qualifying offer and play next season before heading into unrestricted free agency. That’s probably the best move for both parties at this point. Maybe minus Tayshaun Prince and maybe if Richard Hamilton is moved, Stuckey will finally feel more comfortable taking the leadership role he’s hinted that he wants the past two preseasons. Maybe the Pistons will hire a coach who prefers to play at a faster tempo, which actually complements Stuckey’s skillset better than the pace they’ve played under John Kuester. And maybe the motivation of having to earn a long-term contract with a big season next year is finally what Stuckey will need to put together his immense physical gifts and become the player Joe Dumars thought he had on his hands when he prematurely gave up on Chauncey Billups to hand the team to Stuckey.

With the exception of a couple Stuckey apologists, I don’t think anyone would argue against the fact that the kid has been given about as long a leash as any player to play through mistakes and hold onto his large role on the team over the past three seasons. He’s fallen well short of Dumars’ belief that Stuckey could become a dynamic playmaking force at the PG spot in this league. But on a one-year deal next season at a low cost, Stuckey still has more value to the Pistons than he’d return in a one-for-one trade. Stuckey is still incredibly physically gifted. He’s still young. And because the Pistons aren’t likely to head into this offseason with a whole lot of flexibility, it’s still worth giving Stuckey a look in a prominent role with a (likely) new coach next season.