The Big Answer: Chris Wilcox


Patrick and I are going to revisit our The Big Question series, where we each identified what we saw as the key  question facing each Piston entering the season. We’re skipping Vernon Hamilton and Ike Diogu, neither of whom lasted with the team past the preseason. So, let’s start with Chris Wilcox.

DF then: Is he a PINO?

PINO is Piston In Name Only. He doesn’t play much. His teammates and coaches don’t talk about him. Does he practice with the team? Could 80 percent of his teammates pick him out of a crowd? Does he have any emotional attachment to the franchise, and vice-versa.

OK, I wrote the above paragraph before Vincent Goodwill’s glowing report. But with news that Wilcox’s hamstring will keep him out of tonight’s preseason opener against the Miami Heat, I still think there’s a solid chance this is the last meaningful news you hear about Wilcox as a Piston.

DF now: No – at least for now

Chris Wilcox had his best season since he played for the Sonics. He emerged as a good offensive rebounder, a capable finisher, a better-than-average-on-this-team defender and even a solid passer.

Wilcox led Detroit in starts at power forward and started more games at the position than the Pistons’ first two options this season – Austin Daye and Jason Maxiell – combined. On the court, he was definitely a key contributor.

But I’m not sure which clique he fit into. We learned a good deal about which players meshed with which other players during the Philadelphia boycott, but Wilcox supposedly overslept for the whole thing. Would he have sided with the protesting veterans or the six practicers? We’ll probably never know where his allegiance would have lied.

So, in some respects, I still view him as a lone wolf on the team – albeit a way more productive one than I imagined. If he signs elsewhere this offseason, I’ll claim partial credit for my question. Wilcox will never have made a real mark as Piston. But the way he played this year, if he re-signs, he could establish himself in Detroit.

PH then: Can he be traded?

If John Kuester is trying to foster a renewed focus on defense, Chris Wilcox can’t see court time. The Pistons were much worse defensively when he played last season, and with Greg Monroe added to the frontcourt mix, the team has even less incentive to play him. The question is whether Wilcox, who didn’t show much of anything last year, can show enough to entice a team to take him off the Pistons hands.

PH now: At least I didn’t botch this one as bad as Feldman.

Whether it was the realization that this is a contract year or finally realizing some of his potential, Chris Wilcox was pretty consistent offensively down the stretch for the Pistons.

He became an important player with the injuries to Jonas Jerebko and Ben Wallace and the ineffectiveness of Jason Maxiell. His size and athleticism are still intriguing, as is his good chemistry with Greg Monroe, who often found Wilcox for lobs around the basket.

In the preseason, I didn’t think Wilcox would play at all. Now, part of me hopes the Pistons can bring him back on a one-year deal next season.