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PistonPowered Mailbag: #PistonsMtRushmore, Olympics comparisons and trade questions


Submit questions for the weekly PistonPowered Mailbag to  patrickhayes13(at)gmail(dot)com or on Twitter @patrick_hayes.

Three things quickly before I get into questions:

First, the Pistons just fired another coach, they’re struggling to make the playoffs in a conference where they’re one of only like … what … four teams? … that even wants to and they have a team president who looks increasingly like a lame duck (cue RyanK in the comments saying, “YOU ARE JUST SPECULATING! YOU HAVE NO INFORMATION OTHER THAN MULTIPLE PEOPLE COVERING THE TEAM AND THE LEAGUE INSINUATING AS MUCH! JOE DUMARS WON A CHAMPIONSHIP A DECADE AGO!). The point is, it hasn’t been easy being a Pistons fan in recent years. But everyone who has occasionally felt burnt out following this organization during its down years should immediately (if you haven’t already) read Adrian Wojnarowski’s account of what has been going on with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. There are so many amazing passages, but I loved this one:

"But no one made a serious offer to Bynum until Cleveland delivered him a two-year, incentive-laden deal that could’ve paid him $25 million. The Cavaliers preened, too. Owner Dan Gilbert tweeted, “What’s next, C.G.?” Within the league, people wondered: Why are they taking bows?"

Dumars has been terrible and no one, other than a small crew of ardent (delusional?) supporters, really disputes that the Pistons would probably be best served making a change. But it’s always nice to get a reminder via Woj-Bomb that there are even worse run organizations out there.

Second, via Deadspin, there’s this from former Piston Tracy McGrady:

I know I was relatively alone around these parts in my undying love for McGrady and excitement when he became a Piston, but I seriously think he’s one of the greatest pure athletes of this generation in any sport. We can argue all we want about whether or not he maximized his potential, but for a guy to be a dominant basketball player and also be able to throw a mid-80s fastball, particularly when he’s old, oft-injured and out of shape, well … that’s pretty damned impressive, especially considering that some of his NBA peers have not looked so great trying to throw a baseball.

Third, great tweet, Brandon Jennings:

On to your questions:

"Considering the Pistons found out about the Cheeks firing on Twitter, what would be the most devastating news to receive via twitter? For example, I’d be heartbroken if all of a sudden I found out on Twitter that Denny’s is no longer open 24 hours. — Perry"

Well, it wasn’t Twitter, but I used to work with two people who had been dating for years. They apparently had a fight. He decided to break up with her. Not by telling her, but by going to his desk and changing his Facebook relationship status to single. We worked in an open office, so everyone could see each other and, being a very productive and hard-working bunch, most of us were always logged into Facebook while working. That ‘person x changed his relationship status to single’ update was a fairly interesting addition to everyone’s day. We all tried to avoid eye contact with both people for a while (happy ending though, they got back together, I think).

But I would guess relationship fights, allegations and breakups playing out over social media is not only devastating to the individuals but also really super awkward for everyone who follows their various accounts. Why anyone is on Twitter to do anything other than make lame jokes about sports or find out about the innovative new Taco Bell app, I will never understand.

"After Carlisle and Brown, Dumars’ hires are Saunders, Curry, Kuester, Frank and Cheeks. Where did it go wrong? — @FT33"

Well, if we’re being obvious, I think that we can all pretty much agree that something happened to the quality somewhere between Saunders and Curry. Honestly though, I think the Curry hire would’ve worked better had he not been sand-bagged with the Chauncey Billups trade. Billups would’ve essentially run the offense and not needed Curry super involved in play calling. And at least initially, Curry was committed to playing Amir Johnson, Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo as key rotation pieces that season. The Billups trade replaced a coach on the floor in Billups with Allen Iverson, adding his personality to a team that included noted strong personalities Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton. Iverson’s need to not be a point guard, combined with Hamilton’s need to always start made it hard to find minutes for Afflalo and not having a stable point guard in the lineup hurt Johnson’s ability to be effective. So predictably, a rookie coach devoid of even much experience as an assistant had things go off the rails. Curry wasn’t good that season, but he also was dealt a bigger blow with the in-season Billups trade than any of the coaches who followed him.

The others? Well … they speak for themselves. Partially, I get Dumars’ unwillingness to pay top dollar for coaches when the team isn’t going to be good. But that doesn’t mean you have to only hire retreads or guys no one else wants to hire. Find the next Rick Carlisle, an assistant who is smart and well-thought-of but won’t command the money of an established coach, be patient as he implements a system and hopefully that coach grows into someone who would lead the team to the playoffs when the talent level is improved. Instead, they hired coaches who didn’t instill any semblance of a system, didn’t inspire confidence and hurt the long-term growth of the team by creating a constant need to make changes. Dumars’ philosophy to not waste money on big names (prior to this season, when he should’ve paid for an established guy like Hollins, Karl or McMillan) was sound. His choices for non-big names was the problem.

"If you had to guess, which Pistons player do you think is really into the Winter Olympics? By “into” I mean he can name at least one U.S. Olympic athlete (I can’t) or DVRing all the events and watching them “live” after the games. I could see Rodney Stuckey being really into figure skating. Pretty sure that’s how he improved his footwork in the post. — Steve"

Hmm … there are some possibilities. Jonas Jerebko is a possible choice. He’s from a country that’s into winter sports. Kyle Singler could be a big curling aficionado — maybe he can incorporate that into his next trick shots video. Other than that … I dunno man. I am admittedly not a Winter Olympics fan, so it’s hard for me to predict why others might like it. Although I will say (and name an Olympian for you while I’m at it) that my favorite event during the Sochi Olympics has been bobsledder Johnny Quinn trying to escape from things that he gets stuck in.

"Who would you put on your Pistons Mt. Rushmore? — Dan (not Feldman)"

First, it’s amazing to me that LeBron James made a silly comment about players he’d be on an NBA all-time Mt. Rushmore with and that turned into every single person on the internet compiling Mt. Rushmores for different teams, eras … I think there was even a mascot Mt. Rushmore (and if I’m just making that up in my head, someone should totally make one up … that’s what the comments section is for).

For the Pistons, my two givens are Isiah Thomas and Ben Wallace, two guys who defined championship teams. I think a third spot has to be given to someone from the Pistons dark ages prior to their run in the 1980s — someone like George Yardley, Dave DeBusschere, Bob Lanier or Dave Bing. Take your pick of one guy for the third spot. And the fourth spot would probably have to go to Joe Dumars. As much as Dumars is synonymous with his poor body of work over the last fiveish years, he also was a key part of two championships and the architect of a third title team. Maybe keep that fourth spot on the mountain faceless for now, then we can sculpt Dumars into it four or five years when everyone has had time to fully appreciate his vision bridging us from the Villanueva/Gordon era to the Smith/Jennings era. You know what? I just talked myself into putting Chauncey Billups on there over Dumars. Sorry Joe. Give it some time to heal, maybe.

Man, it was really hard not to put Will Bynum on Mt. Rushmore.

"Lots of reports that Dumars’ lame duck status pretty much squash the chance of any significant trade at the deadline. If that is the case, do Stuckey and Charlie V lose all value to us? Given all the other teams around the league tanking right now, i think it’d be a shame to not take advantage and try to get a few guys  (Jared Dudley, Jeff Green, Afflalo) on the cheap. — Mark"

I wouldn’t say it removes any chance of a deal, I just think it complicates the deals he’s able to make. I think you can rule out most trades that would bring in long-term salary in exchange for any of Detroit’s expiring contracts. But I also think Tom Gores’ seeming desire to still make the playoffs would allow some freedom to make moves that help achieve that goal.

For example, flipping Stuckey’s expiring contract to Washington for Trevor Ariza’s expiring deal could potentially hope both teams. Washington needs backup help at both guard spots, and Stuckey would be a great piece for them off the bench backing up John Wall and Bradley Beal and also serve as decent insurance should one of those guys get injured. Ariza plays a position of strength (they could divide his minutes to an equally capable shooter in Martell Webster and Otto Porter or Glen Rice Jr.). Ariza is shooting nearly 39 percent from three this season and would definitely strengthen Detroit on the wing while also providing some needed floor spacing.

The Pistons could also do something like flip Will Bynum to Dallas for Wayne Ellington, a good shooter who is currently out of their rotation. Bynum could play a role similar to what J.J. Barea used to play for the Mavs if they’re so inclined to explore a deal to move Ellington.

I would love for the Pistons to explore deals for guys like Afflalo, but as I said above, I think the long-term money they are owed might complicate things.

"What does Dumars illuminated lame-duck status mean for potential Pistons expirings trades; Stuckey especially, but Charlie V and Jerebko as well? — seenable"

I mostly answered this one above, but to reiterate, I don’t think Dumars’ questionable future with the team means he can’t make trades necessarily, I just think it may put restrictions on the type of trades. I could see him having the ability to trade his expiring deals for other guys on expiring deals. I don’t see him trading guys like Stuckey and Villanueva for guys on long-term deals unless the player in return is a star-level player, but that would also require the Pistons to likely include young players or picks. I doubt Dumars would have the ability to make deals that include those types of assets at the deadline (or at least I hope he doesn’t have that freedom right now).

Also, I wanted to point out that Jerebko is not an expiring contract — he has a player option at $4.5 million for next season, according to Sham Sports. Considering the poor seasons Jerebko has had last season and so far this season, I can’t see him turning down that option. I could, however, seeing the Pistons trade him for a similarly underperforming perimeter player on a similar contract.