Currently viewing the tag: "Free Agency"

Ike Diogu

Ikechukwu Somtochukwu Diogu or, “Ike” Diogu as he’s known has agreed to come to camp with the Pistons and is the 16th man in camp with the team.  Ike is a 6’9 250lb power forward who has played for 4 NBA teams (and has been on 5 teams overall) since being selected with the 9th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.

Last season Ike was a New Orleans Hornet and did not register any time with the team. In 2008-2009 Ike split time between the Portland Trailblazers and the Sacramento Kings.  Ike was originally drafted by the Golden State Warriors before being included in a trade that brought Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to the Warriors from the Indiana Pacers.

Looking at this move makes me believe that either a deal is going to happen soon during training camp or one of the guards or small forwards will be either dealt or released because the roster is so backcourt heavy.  Ike is a solid player who, while undersized, doesn’t mind playing in the painted area and using his strength to bang and box out for rebounds.

This is not really a win/win or a win/lose move for the Pistons as Diogu was brought into camp with no guarantees of making the team.  Let’s hope he shows flashes of what caused him to become the #9 overall pick from 2005.

So I’ve hesitated posting about this because I hate when people bring up Darko Milicic and the #2 pick that Joe D. whiffed on (Here is a reminder of what happened in the 2003 NBA Draft).  I’ve defended the pick by saying that several NBA GMs had interest in Milicic, it wasn’t only Joe D. that liked him.  Add that defense to the rumors of the Denver Nuggets possibly selecting Milicic at #3 if Detroit would have chosen Carmelo Anthony and well, we all see a clearer picture of what kind of potential others around the league thought Milicic had.  When LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left their teams last week to go to Miami, to play with Dwyane Wade, it got me thinking:

If Detroit drafted Dwyane Wade, could he or would he have recruited the other 2 guys to Detroit?

The immediate answer is no, because with the way the Pistons managed the contracts of players following the 2004 championship run, Cleveland and Toronto likely would have not wanted to do a sign and trade for anything the Pistons would have had on their roster this offseason.  Add that to the fact that Miami tanked a season between their 2006 title run and this offseason, and it allowed for guys with minimum contracts to come and go and contracts to expire while young and underpaid players remain behind.

Sure it would have been nice to see D. Wade bringing the ball up the floor with LeBron on the wing and Bosh working at the high elbow in the paint, all the while wearing the Pistons red, blue and white but… it’s highly doubtful that the chips would have fallen the way they did in Miami, for Detroit.

Don’t get me wrong here guys, this is not me bashing on Joe Dumars.  He’s a well respected Executive and one of the better GMs in the league right now.  Sure, he might have kept the core group from 2004 together a little longer than I would have liked but, no matter how much respect and experience Dumars has, he’s not as good at being a snake like Pat Riley.  Dumars would have never buried it into LeBron’s head that every team in the league should retire Jordan’s #23, only Riley has that much respect for Jordan.  If you’ll remember, Dumars was the only one in the league who could slow Jordan down, and there’s no way Dumars would sell himself to LeBron by pushing that idea on him while also playing up to his needs and requirements for him to join the team.

The same goes for Bosh.  Bosh, a player who I openly lobbied for Detroit to go after this offseason at the beginning of last season.  I saw how dirty he did the Toronto fans by simply reading his twitter feed during the whole process leading up to July 1.  Tweets like “alright followers, where should I go next season?” and then at midnight July 1 talking about it was going to be so tough on him even though he had a reality TV crew following him around while he made a mockery of the entire process.

And for all that above?  I’m not happy that Detroit likely won’t make the playoffs this season however,  I am happy though that the organization did not back down from their experience from previous winning seasons.  It’s more about team and making the pieces fit than it is about 1 player and selling your team’s soul just to keep 1 out of 15 players happy.  Look at what Dan Gilbert ended up with in ClevelandLook at what Toronto ended up with.  They did all they could to keep their marquee names happy and what happened?  Those guys ran away to play 3 on 5 basketball for the next 6 seasons.  It will be an alley oop fest next season in South Beach.  Miami doesn’t have enough season tickets to satisfy the demands.  But at the end of the day, you look at the wreckage of the Raptors and Cavaliers roster and you have to think to yourself “sure, it would have been nice to not give Hamilton such a big contract but really… at least the roster is balanced and not leaning so heavily on 1 guy that just left”.

I’m satisfied that yeah, Joe D. whiffed during the 2003 Draft but they still legitimately competed from 2003-2008, than I am with “well yeah, we got D Wade but we’re worrying about what sort of bit players we can put around him so he won’t get mad at us and leave”.  If you want to see what DetroitBadBoys and this site would look like after having D Wade, LeBron or Bosh leave?  Check out a Raptors or Cavs blog.  Fans are bitter and angry, if they’re even commenting at all anymore.  In some cases, it’s like a ghost town on the lesser known blogs.

We all know what the Pistons shortcomings are this season:  a lot of money tied up in older players who aren’t going to be a part of the rebuilding process, a small frontcourt, and a coaching staff lead by an inexperienced Head Coach.  Those 3 previously mentioned shortcomings are nothing like what the Cavaliers have to go through just to field a competitive team next season.  The Cavaliers are in the same position that the 2004-2005 Detroit Tigers were in.  They’re going to have to overpay a couple of free agents to come in and show the rest of the league that Cleveland isn’t such a bad place to play.  They’re going to have to nail their drafts over the next couple of years to develop their own young talent just to show other players in the league that Cleveland is an up and comer once again.

Call me a hater if you want.  I don’t hate any of those 3 guys who are members of the Miami Heat now.  Good for them.  Maybe they’ll get rings, maybe they won’t.  It doesn’t mean 2 of them didn’t do their teams dirty by flirting with the fact they were going to be free agents this summer while their GMs scrambled to acquire guys, with their input, who would make that 1 player happy.

Ok so a couple of moves have been made recently by other teams who were left scrambling after LeClown’s decision to re-sign in Cleveland to take his “talents” to South Beach, but none of the moves have hurt the Pistons in the free agent market.  Outside of maybe Brendan Haywood (re-signed in Dallas 5 yrs, $55 million), there were no real big men that were free agents that Detroit really should’ve honestly showed interest in, considering their financial position with the cap.

Here are some notable big man names that are left, that I wouldn’t mind Joe D. throwing some cash at:

Craig Smith, PF – L.A. Clippers – at 6’7 250lbs he’s a wider version of Jason Maxiell.  He averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds in 08-09 for the Minnesota Timberwolves before the Clippers acquired him last offseason.  He averages about 16 points per game and about 8 rebounds per 36, and has been productive in the paint when given a chance.  He is not tall but he is a wide body and he has the weight to be able to force taller men off the block.  He reminds me of Danny Fortson.

Josh Boone, PF/C – New Jersey Nets – Josh is going into his 5th year in the league out of UConn.  In just his second season, he averaged 8 points per game and 7 rebounds.  He’s not going to lock down his man 100% of the time, but he has the length to block shots and is averaging nearly 2 blocks per 36 minutes.  He’s got the body of a center (6’10, 250lbs), but he’s limited to just put backs offensively.  He lacks effective “back to the basket” moves like some of the better big men in the league.

Etan Thomas, PF/C – OKC Thunder - Etan is a couple of seasons removed from career threatening surgery to repair a heart condition.  Etan has always been a tenacious post defender, and a very strong rebounder for someone who is listed at 6’10 but is more realistically 6’8.  At 32 years old, he’s not an ideal choice for the Pistons and most likely he wouldn’t want to go to the Pistons who are in rebuilding mode.  Having spent most of his career with the lowly Wizards, he has a chance to either stay in OKC to mentor the young up and coming Thunder, or sign on with a team like the Miami Heat to make a championship run.  He’s like a taller, younger, Ben Wallace.  He will be a good mentor to any team that has young big men who are willing to work.

Now that doesn’t look like much but let’s be honest, there’s not really that many roster spots left to be had anyway (barring any trades).  If Kwame Brown does not come back, and with him being in Coach Kuester’s doghouse last season why would he, then we’re thin up front when it comes to frontcourt muscle.  Ben Wallace is the only legitimate frontcourt beef right now, and since Greg Monroe’s abilities defensively (or offensively) are unknown at this point, we as Pistons fans are looking at another year of undersized and underweight power forwards playing out of position fighting for rebounds and putbacks.

The 3 guys I listed above are just some of the guys that can be had, without making trades, that I think would sure up the front line defensively.  What do you think?  Obviously we all have wild, hair-brained trade ideas.  I have some trade ideas of my own that I’d be more than happy to discuss so long as we all have a general understanding of how trades work.  For information on NBA salaries and how players are able to move, check out this link.  It’s been helpful to me in understanding what teams can and can not do during Free Agency periods and at the trading deadline.

Ok, I know I told you guys that in the coming days (weeks) that I’d give some prospective on the current players on the roster and their contract status.  I will list them in order of the regular rotation position from last season.

Rodney Stuckey (PG) – 1 yr remaining at $2.7m, with an option to bring him back on a qualifying offer for $3.8m*
Richard Hamilton (SG) – 3 yrs remaining at $37.95m, with the 3rd yr being only partially guaranteed
Tayshaun Prince (SF) – 1 yr remaining at $11.1m, no player or team option for 2011-2012.**
Jonas Jerebko (SF/PF) – 1 yr remaining (non-guaranteed) at $762k, no player or team option for 2011-2012.***
Ben Wallace (C) – 2 yrs remaining at $3.8m, no player or team option for 2013-2014

Ben Gordon (SG) – 4 yrs remaining at $48m.  Gordon has a player option that will pay him $13.2m in 2013-2014 should he exercise it
Charlie Villanueva (PF) – 4 yrs remaining at $31.2m.  Villanueva holds a player option that will pay him $8.58m in 2013-2014 should he exercise it
Jason Maxiell (PF) – 3 yrs remaining at $15m.  Maxiell holds a player option that will pay him $5m for 2012-2013 should he exercise it
Austin Daye (SF) – 3 yrs remaining at $6.6m (roughly).  Daye’s rookie contract expires after 2010-2011 w/ 2 team option 2011-2012, 2012-2013
DaJuan Summers (SF) – 1 yr remaining at $762k, no player or team option for 2011-2012.***
Greg Monroe (PF) – 2 yrs remaining at $5.08m, with 2 team option years (2012-2013, 2013-2014) and a qualifying offer year (2014-2015)
Chris Wilcox (PF/C) – 1 yr remaining at $3.0m, no player or team option for 2011-2012.**

FREE AGENTS:
Kwame Brown (C) – Detroit holds Kwame’s “bird rights” meaning they can pay more than any other team for him, but he is free to go anywhere.  He is an unrestricted free agent.
Will Bynum (PG) – Bynum is a restricted free agent, and Detroit can match any offer made to him.

UNSIGNED DRAFT PICKS:
Terrico White (SG) – likely to receive 1 yr guaranteed contract with a team option for a 2nd yr.

TRADE ASSETS:
Tayshaun Prince (expiring contract, still has value, could be contributor for contender)
Chris Wilcox (expiring contract)
Will Bynum (although all signs point to Detroit matching any offer made to him, with him staying)
Austin Daye (rookie contract, could be paired with a “bad” contract like Richard Hamilton to acquire a significant piece)
2011 1st Round Draft Pick (likely to be a late lottery pick or mid-1st rounder depending on where Pistons finish the season)

* if Detroit makes the qualifying offer to Stuckey, he will become a restricted free agent and Detroit can then match any offer made to him
** Detroit holds Tayshaun’s “bird rights” so if he remains on the roster all season, they will have the opportunity to pay him more than anyone else.  He will be an unrestricted free agent.
*** Detroit will hold Summers’ and Jerebko’s “early bird rights” after this 2nd season meaning they will be restricted free agents and Detroit will be able to pay more than anyone else.
**** All numbers are from hoopsworld.com

The Pistons are currently over the salary cap for the 2010-2011 season.  They have the ability to spend their full MLE (Mid-Level Exception) on any free agents available.  The MLE can be divided into different contracts but those contract values cannot exceed the overall value of the MLE.

All players who remain un-signed for the 2010-2011 season (Kwame Brown, Will Bynum) have a “cap hold” placed on the team’s salary cap for the next year until their rights are re-nounced.  Currently, the Pistons have a hold of $4.8m for Kwame Brown and $990,596 for Will Bynum.  While Kwame may not come back, Will Bynum is expected to see a raise from his current cap hold.

With Luke Ridnour receiving a contract from the Timberwolves of 4 yrs, $16m, I would not be surprised to see Bynum receive something in that same ballpark.  Perhaps a 4 yr, $12m contract is most suitable for him as it will give him a sense of stability and it falls in line with contracts that players of his ability are currently earning in the league.  Whatever he signs for, I believe front loading the contract to be best because as the years go on, they will have more and more salary cap space available for use.  Since they’re already over the cap now, there’s no use in backloading the deal only to hamstring yourself a year down the line.

As I said in the previous post in reply to a comment about Minnesota trading Al Jefferson for draft picks, the Pistons are not in a position to make deals like this.  Detroit would actually need to trade the same value in salaries (or within 125% total values) in order to receive players back.  Since draft picks do not have value until the picks are made, they can’t simply send picks to other teams for players.

I hope this helps a little.  There will be more to come, later.