State of the Cap: Detroit Pistons

Mon, 07/18/2011 - 9:03am

2011/12 Payroll: $48.2 million
2011/12 (Projected) NBA Salary Cap: $54 million
Roughly: $5.8 million under cap

Greg MonroeGreg MonroeHighlights: In a terrible, forgettable season for the Detroit Pistons, Greg Monroe was one of the few shining lights. Snagged with the seventh pick in the draft last summer, Monroe turned a lot of heads with his play, averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds on 55% shooting. He especially played well in the second half of the season when he got more minutes, sometimes looking like a monster. The Pistons may have stumbled upon a gem who will be a key part of their rebuilding process. Monroe still has three more years on his cheap rookie deal. The fans will be excited to watch how he develops in year two.

To further help the youth movement, the Pistons got a steal in this year’s draft when guard Brandon Knight somehow fell to them at pick 8. Most people thought Knight would land somewhere in the 3 to 5 range, so Detroit was ecstatic when he was still there. He’s an excellent prospect who could end up being the best guard in the draft. With current point guard Rodney Stuckey entering free agency, Knight makes it much easier to let him go. Monroe and Knight should be a fun combination the next few years.

Lowlights: The pain in Detroit’s salary cap is due to a three-headed monster made up of Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, and Charlie Villanueva. Of all the contracts, Hamilton’s may have been the most puzzling. It was obvious that the Pistons needed to rebuild around younger players, and yet they gave the over-30 Hamilton $12.65 million a year through the 2012/13 season. Even in his prime, he wasn’t really worth that much, so how was he supposed to earn that contract on the downside of his career? A cheaper contract would have made him a tradable asset to a contender who needed a little scoring on the wing. Now, the Pistons are stuck with him for at least another season.

Ben Gordon has certainly been a bust since coming over from Chicago. He averaged 20.7 points a game in his last season with the Bulls, but this year with the Pistons he bottomed-out with a career-worst 11.2 scoring average. That’s pretty low for a player owed $37.2 million over the next three years, especially since Gordon doesn’t contribute much in other areas. However, he did shoot a respectable 44% from the field and a very good 40% from the three point stripe, which are in line with his career averages. So why did Gordon only score 11 points a game? Looking at the numbers, his shot attempts and free throw attempts are way down since he joined the Pistons. Perhaps Gordon simply isn’t getting the opportunities to score playing alongside Rodney Stuckey as he did playing with Derrick Rose. For Detroit’s sake, they had better hope Brandon Knight and the rest of the team can do a better job getting Gordon the ball.

Charlie Villanueva is another player whose shot attempts have suffered as a Piston, contributing to the drop off in his production. Still, even his best probably won’t be any better than 15 points and 6 boards a game. Is that really worth the roughly $8 million a year he’ll be paid the next three seasons? I think not. Villanueva isn’t a terrible player. He shoots 38% from downtown and contributes on the glass. But Villanueva has always been difficult to motivate and if the Pistons want to get their money’s worth, they need him to play hard and seize a larger piece of the team’s offense. 11 points and 4 rebounds a game just isn’t going to cut it.

Reserve forward Jason Maxiell isn’t helping Detroit’s fiscal outlook either. The ninth or tenth man in your rotation probably shouldn’t be making $5 million a year. Maxiell will get that the next two years, even though he averaged just 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 16 minutes a game last season. Nothing ruins your salary cap faster than overpaid role players.

The Future: While the near future doesn’t look so hot for the Pistons, the long term future is looking better and better. The additions of Knight and Monroe give the team a nice influx of talent and Austin Daye still has some potential (if he ever puts on some weight). Next summer, Rip Hamilton and his hefty contract will be a tradable asset since it will have just one year left. And if they let Rodney Stuckey go in free agency, it will be addition by subtraction. Stuckey doesn’t seem like a point guard who makes his teammates better, as evidenced by Gordon’s and Villanueva’s lagging stats. A more talented floor general could do wonders for this team and Knight should get that chance. Give him a year to learn and grow and Detroit could have a relatively quick turnaround. In the summer of 2013, they have a chance to be well under the cap and able to add a good free agent to a team that might be on the upswing. The Pistons just need to be patient and play their cards right until then.

Grade: C

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Trading Billups away too

Trading Billups away too soon, was the start of the demise of a good team..The werent the most talented team to win a title.But they might've been the most hardest working team to ever win..It seems to me ,that when Billups was sent away it broke the spirit of the veteran players..The teams of 2004-2008 won ugly,but they won..And fans enjoyed it..Who can forget Tayshaun chasing down Reggie Miller and blocking his shot? The announcer during player introduction? The Bell sounding Off when Big Ben grabbed a rebound or blocked a shot..Mr.Big Shot Billups hitting a clutch 3 pointer..Rasheed going off on the refs....Or defenders trying to guard Rip....

Some have said that Dumars wanted Iverson not for his contract,but to makeup for by passing Carmelo and bring a superstar to the team...

If you look up & down their roster last season..They didnt have a leader and lacked a direction..The roster was full of offensive minded players, but lacked that defensive mindset they were known for...

Its going to be interesting next season to see how much Greg Monroe has improved.. His play during the final 25 games of last season gives them hope..He has the talent to be a double double guy....

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This team isn't getting

This team isn't getting better anytime soon. I like Brandon Knight but they have Stuckey at PG and Knight doesn't make his team better he is a shooter not a passer.Not sure why they gave Rip all that money.. Dumars days in the D are numberd..

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I agree with Cuzzcuzz, Knight

I agree with Cuzzcuzz, Knight doesn't make this team better right off the bat because he is a shooter first. i think he can develop into a pure pg though because he is a very smart person and a very hard worker. i have all the faith in the world that knight will be a successful pg. he is a good, smart, hard working, and talented person. sounds like a formula for success to me.

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I'll be interested to see

I'll be interested to see what Detroit do with Stuckley, a lot of people have said they should move him to SG but you then have to fit in Ben Gordon and also Rip Hamilton. If Prince does move on then Rip can play some SF whilst his contract becomes tradeable but do you then put Knight in at PG from the off or maybe play him at SG a bit.

I do wonder whether Detroit might look to do an S and T with Stuckley as he'd probably be looking for a deal at around $8 million a season and with those other bad deals on the books can they afford to give him that sort of deal unless they are sure he'll be worth it or they can move one of the other bad contracts. Stuckley is an asset and if Joe Dumars could get a pick or two for him then that would help Detroit to continue rebuilding and open up playing time to Knight.

Perhaps Detroit could even package Stuckley with one of their bad deals in an S and T to get a 2012 expiring deal. Teams like Cleveland for example might like Stuckley and be prepared to do something with the Jameson deal in return for Stuckley.

Having Rip alongside Knight for a season or so would give Knight a guiding hand on court whilst allowing Ben Gordon to be used as an impact 6th man and also free up extra cap space with Stuckley off the books.

It might mean another trip to the draft lottery but with a loaded 2012 draft then that might not be bad for Detroit as Knight. Monroe and co will develop whilst the bad contracts run down or become more tradeable.

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Charlie V and Ben Gordon's

Charlie V and Ben Gordon's contracts aren't that bad at all. These guys are looked at as garbage overpaid players, but in reality they have a ton of offensive talent and are just not very good on defense. Ben Gordon usually gets burned by bigger guards and Charlie V gets burned by faster SFs and is allergic to defense inside the paint making him a black hole vs. PFs and other bigs. They make up for it with great shooting ability and offensive skills. They're both also decent in some aspects on defense, with Ben Gordon's speed and quick hands and Charlie V's length.

One big problem which I agree with is Rip's contract. It really is kind of strange that they did not want to pay Billups, Ben Wallace and Sheed the high contracts they wanted, but they decided to give it to Rip. That is truly Detroit's only albatross, because not only is he old already, but he's due more money as the years go on.

I like their position as far as the salary cap goes, with the exception of Rip. They will need to find a way to get some money and afford an actual center though, seeing as how Ben Wallace is their best at the position but is old as rocks. A lot of people love Greg Monroe at center, but he's more of a PF and the Pistons are forcing him to carry the load as a big since the help at PF when Monroe is at C is so horrible. Assuming Tayshaun Prince leaves in free agency, the number in this article will go up a great amount and could net them the big which they desperately need (Pistons were dead last in blocks and almost last in rebounds).

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Prince and Stuckey

The number in the article reflects Prince leaving in free agency so it won't change at all. Prince and Stuckey, as free agents, are already off the books and don't count against the current cap number

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i disagree completely about

i disagree completely about what you say about maxiell.. hes a tremendous defender and if given more minutes would average better numbers... he was just coming in behind wallace, wilcox, villanueva, and monroe.. maxiell is worth every penny..

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@wolfpack. Defense is half

@wolfpack. Defense is half the game. Charlie V and Ben Gordon were very poor decisions.

I could see taking a chance on Charlie V... but did the contract need to be that long?

Greg monroe was a great pick. Brandon knight might pan out. Otherwise, they got a long road ahead

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The Pistons are in a good situation w/ night and monroe both stealls for the 7th and 8th pick night is another jrue holliday type and monroe reminds me of brook lopez so thats a good combo but if i was detriots gm i wouldnt panick on ben gordan and charlie just yet lol and rip neithe some one like a new orleans or chicago who doesnt care about the contract just need a 2 would do anything to take either or and w/ that i just think detriot should throw a season and hope the lottery goes there way and get a nice wing like a barnes or lebryan nash and go from there its a process if the team is patient they will be aight

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