Training camp is still two months away and the Detroit Pistons' roster for 2012 is nearly assembled.
Players that were not part of Joe Dumars' long-term plans have left and new players that can help the Pistons take the next steps toward respectability have taken their place.
In addition, Dumars added three rookies via the NBA draft that could provide an immediate impact. Actually, only two of those rookies have been officially added. Dumars successfully signed Andre Drummond and Kim English in July.
Second-round pick Khris Middleton is the lone rookie left unsigned and the Pistons have one available roster spot. The question is whether Dumars has reserved that spot for Middleton or someone else.
Middleton was drafted for a reason. He's a classic swingman-type player who is built in the mold of Tayshaun Prince. He's got the same long arms and he's almost identical in height and weight as Prince is right now.
So those experts who say Middleton needs to add bulk to be successful in the NBA are way off. Prince certainly was successful.
Perhaps Middleton was drafted by Detroit specifically to be Prince's successor. Besides his body type, his skills are the same too. He needs to get better from behind the arc, though.
The problem is that Detroit has a glut of small forwards currently on the roster. Prince, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye and Corey Maggette are already ahead of him. Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler can also play either forward position.
If Dumars is planning on signing Middleton, then it's not a stretch to think he is also planning on trading one of the players mentioned above. The Pistons likely would not devote almost half their roster to one position.
The most likely candidate to go might be Austin Daye.
Despite his impressive summer league performance, Daye was a major disappointment last season. Perhaps Dumars can use Daye's recent bounce-back to leverage a good deal and bring in a backup point guard. The Pistons only have two of those—Brandon Knight and Will Bynum—on their roster.
The Middleton signing gets sticky when you consider Ben Wallace. The Pistons legend changes his mind about retirement almost as often as Oprah changes her dress size. No one knows whether he's leaving or staying and, honestly, Wallace probably doesn't know either.
Dumars is likely waiting on a decision from Wallace before he offers Middleton a deal. It would be nice if Wallace does him a solid and makes up his mind already. The Pistons would surely like this situation settled.
There are obvious pros and cons to Wallace returning. Primarily, it would make the Middleton pick a wasted one. It would also do little to help the Pistons in the future, as Wallace would be gone after this season.
His presence could be an advantage to the youngsters on the Pistons' roster, though. Particularly Andre Drummond, who might benefit from some of Big Ben's nastiness rubbing off on him.
Despite the impact Wallace might have, the Pistons would be better off keeping Middleton. They already have a veteran remaining from the championship years, Prince, who can still offer significant things on the court. Isn't that enough?
Sacrificing a roster spot for someone like Wallace, who would sit on the bench all season, would not be advantageous.
The Pistons need to stack their roster with young talent that can help them in the future and Dumars needs to give Middleton the chance to prove himself. Vernon Macklin was already sacrificed before he got a chance.
It would be unfortunate for Detroit to make the same mistake twice.
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