While the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline was very dull for any professional basketball fan, it was even more bland if you’re a fan of the Detroit Pistons. The case could be made that the Pistons already made a “major” move on Jan. 30 when they traded Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis and received Jose Calderon from Toronto in a three-team deal.
However, is that really a big move?
Don’t get me wrong, Calderon is a great point guard and one of the best passers in the NBA, but is he the answer for the future? When the move initially happened I thought that Detroit was going to keep the Spanish point guard for a short time and use his expiring contract, along with the contracts of Jason Maxiell, Charlie Villanueva, Will Bynum and/or Corey Maggette, as trade bait to bring in that potential star player to help them make the push for the eight seed in the playoffs. There were rumblings that the Pistons were in the hunt for now-Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard J.J. Reddick, but the former Duke Blue Devil isn’t a player you can build your team around.
It’s obvious that Joe Dumars and the rest of the Pistons front office are going to take their almost $30 million dollars in expiring contracts to try and build a contending team this summer, but are the pieces out there to add to the core of young players to make this Pistons team a contender again in the Eastern Conference? I’m not sure.
The interior of the Pistons seems to be set for many years with third-year player Greg Monroe (averaging 16 ppg and 9.8 rpg this season) and rookie Andre Drummond (averaging 7.3 ppg and 7.5 rpg), but perimeter scoring is where the Pistons need to really find help this summer.
Here are some soon-to-be unrestricted free agents that I believe fit the needs of the Pistons: Josh Smith, O.J. Mayo, Andre Iguodala, Chris Paul, Earl Clark, Monta Ellis, J.R. Smith and Kevin Martin.
Let’s be realistic here, unless Detroit is paying up BIG bucks, what free agent is going to want to come to the Pistons? It’s unfortunate that the league works like that, but that’s the way the cookies crumble usually. The Pistons should have attempted to get a star player with a big contract, so that they have enough time to convince him that they’re going to build a championship team around him. I’m not sure if the Pacers were shopping around Danny Granger, but he would have been a perfect fit in Detroit. Also, why couldn’t the Pistons have grabbed Rudy Gay? He would’ve been the exact player the Pistons need.
So, out of the other guys above, Smith, Mayo and Iguodala are the only logical players, in my opinion, that could potentially be that go-to guy for Detroit.
Smith, who is only 27, has really improved his offensive game the last couple of seasons. Last season, Smith shot nearly 46 percent and averaged a career-high 18.8 ppg. This year, he is shooting 46 percent again, a career-high from beyond the arc (34 percent) and is averaging 17.2 ppg. He would be a great addition on both ends of the floor for the Pistons, and while Detroit has the bucks to give him a the big-money like he is asking for, I’m sure that there are better teams out there willing to give him the big bucks as well.
Next, we have Iguodala. The eighth-year small forward is another one of those defend-first type of players. Iguodala is known mainly for his defense and athleticism and not so much for his scoring. While his scoring is up from a year ago, he hasn’t been a very prominent scorer over the past couple of seasons. I don’t think adding Iguodala would hurt the Pistons if they’re able to bring in another scorer, but him alone as the potential big signing won’t be enough for Detroit to get back to contenders.
Lastly, Mayo is the guy that I believe will be the most likely to sign with Detroit. In his first season with the Mavericks, Mayo is averaging 17.8 ppg and is shooting 46 percent from the field. The fourth-year player out of USC has failed to be that go-to guy for Dallas or Memphis due to the other studs that are on both of those teams. I believe that Mayo has been trying to get into a situation where he can prove he can be a dominant scorer in this league and Detroit could be a very good place for him.
With all of that being said, do you trust any of these guys to be the player that turns this franchise back around? Outside of Chris Paul, I don’t believe there are any perennial NBA All-Stars in this group of free agents, and if the Pistons had a chance at a top-flight player (Which I’m just hypothetically speaking/speculating they could have) they should have pounced on the opportunity.
It’s possible that Brandon Knight, Monroe or Drummond continue to develop into that role, but I don’t see them becoming contenders again until they add a go-to guy on the perimeter.
The Pistons should have used the expiring contracts that they have to find a way to trade for a proven scorer with a long-term deal because I just don’t see any free agent wanting to come here with the roster that this team currently has. However, you never know what could happen. Maybe one big signing will cause other role players to follow suit, and then the Pistons are back as contenders.
Only time will tell.