State of the Cap: Detroit Pistons
By Josh Redetzke
2008/09 Detroit Pistons Payroll: $60.6 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly: $2.6 million over cap
Tayshaun Prince has developed a reputation as the quintessential "glue-guy" that helps win ballgames. That could be why he is currently wearing a Team USA jersey in the Olympics. The versatile forward has the height to play down low, the quickness to take his man off the dribble, and the touch to hit long range jumpers. Prince is also a good defender and decent passer. $31 million over the next three years might seem like a lot when compared to Prince's somewhat meager statistics, but a player like him must be measured in the win column, not the stat sheet. With at least 53 wins each of the past five years, I'd say Detroit is getting pretty good value out of him.
Undersized power forwards have been popping up around the league and Jason Maxiell can be considered among the best of them. His minutes have steadily increased every year and he stepped up to produce 7.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 53.8% shooting as a key reserve for the Pistons. Maxiell is just 6'7" but he plays strong and aggressive and attacks the rim whenever possible. He has one year left under his rookie contract for $1.8 million, a good bargain for a spark plug off the bench.
While the Pistons don't own any contracts that you would consider outrageous, I do think that Rasheed Wallace's pay scale is a bit too high. Wallace is still a very talented forward, but 12.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 43.2% shooting just isn't worth the $13.6 million he'll receive next season. He did lead the team in blocked shots with 1.7 per game and his three point shooting was decent, so it's not like Detroit isn't getting any value out of him. For that price, though, the team should expect a little more production that what they've seen the past two years out of Sheed.
With four years and $50 million left on his contract, it’s comforting to know that Chauncey Billups played like his normal self. His 17 points, 6.8 assists, and 40% shooting from downtown is classic Chauncey. He’ll be 32 when the 2008-09 season begins and with all his playoff miles, there is a worry that Billups will start to break down soon. That could happen, but right now he appears to have a few more good years left under the hood.
The same thing can be said of Antonio McDyess. At age 33, he stepped into the starting role vacated by Chris Webber and made the most of it. He isn’t looked at to be a scorer, only averaging 8.8 points per game, but he was the team’s leading rebounder (8.5) and he stepped up when needed, like the time he dropped 21 points and 16 rebounds on Boston in the playoffs. For $6.5 and $6.8 million the next two years, the Pistons get the kind of veteran player that has been instrumental during their winning ways.
Success has become commonplace in Detroit for a very long time and that isn’t expected to change next season even with new coach Michael Curry. It was surprising to see Flip Saunders get fired. Including the Timberwolves, Saunders has led his teams to the conference finals in four out of the past five seasons and he had a 176-70 record with the Pistons. Somehow, that wasn’t enough. Rumor has it that the players weren’t responding to Flip anymore. If the players aren’t responding to a good coach, maybe it’s not the coach that needs to go.
All five starters are back next year, including their most promising young bench players Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey. While he didn’t shoot very well, Stuckey showed a lot of potential in his rookie season, particulary the composure he displayed in the playoffs. He has a real knack for getting to the free throw line and is a decent passer. If Detroit can sign a few more veterans to shore up their bench, there is no reason why they can’t be a championship contender yet again.
A trade of some kind could definitely happen. Since Rasheed Wallace’s contract will expire next summer, they can use him to reload their talent pool and try to remain in the title hunt. With the firing of Flip Saunders, Joe Dumars demonstrated that he is committed to winning rings and anything else is not acceptable. He will be working hard to pull off some kind of move to make that happen. Rebuilding isn’t anywhere on that man’s radar.
Detroit made a great move when they unloaded Nazr Mohammed to Charlotte, along with the three years and $19 million left on his contract. Mohammed was unhappy with his playing time and caused a major distraction, definitely not good for team chemistry. He played decently well for the Hornets, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Pistons are much better off without him.
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