Austin Daye: Why Another 4 Years of Pistons Forward Isn't Worth $4 Million

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 30:  Austin Daye #5 of the Detroit Pistons moves against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 30, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pistons 83-71. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

During the Joe Dumars era in Detroit, the Pistons have had more than their fair share of disappointments.

Obviously free agency has been full of them, and the trade market has also been hit or miss for Detroit.

But the one spot where the Pistons have suffered a ton of heartbreak has been in the first round of the draft. Mateen Cleaves, Rodney White and Darko Milicic were epic busts. Now it is finally time to include Austin Daye in this mix.

And rather than try to see if more patience will be rewarded, the Pistons need to cut bait with Daye no later than the end of this year, and move in another direction.


Always a risk

Daye was always somewhat of a risk when Detroit drafted him. Guys who are as tall as most centers but weigh less than some point guards are inherently risky.

Will he be able to bulk up? Will he be able to find a stable position? Will his slight frame hinder him in a very physical league?

Sadly for Detroit, after three seasons none of those questions can be answered affirmatively.

Daye is talented, that much is evident. He has incredible range, and when he wants to he can be a dynamic scorer.

But instead of improve over the last three seasons, he has regressed.

Last year, Daye had his worst season in a Pistons uniform. He had career lows in rebounds and points per game and what was even more alarming was his shooting percentages. He shot 32 percent from the field and 21 percent from three-point range.

For a guy who makes his living as a perimeter scorer, those figures are alarming.


Risks in letting him walk

OK, I can already hear the defenders of Daye. What if he catches on elsewhere and lights us up?

That is always a risk. People were saying the same thing about Darko a few years ago as well when Detroit traded the troubled big man for a draft pick that would become Rodney Stuckey. There is always a possibility that the guy you are ditching could make you regret it.

For me, I liken this to relationships. Nobody wants to see an ex-girlfriend two years down the road looking smoking hot and doing fine without you.

But is it really worth the risk sticking it out with that person when there could be someone else better?

There are certainly risks in letting Daye walk, but there are also huge risks in sticking it out with him. What if by continuing to roll with Daye, the Pistons stunt the growth of one of their other young small forwards?

The bottom line is that Daye had his shot, and has not shown a willingness or the ability to do a good job for Detroit. He had his chance, now it is time to cut bait and move to another spot.


Effort is lacking

One of the most frustrating things for me is when I see talented players giving a lack of effort. It is like watching a lottery winner setting money on fire.

Daye has had the same terrible body language and lackadaisical demeanor ever since Detroit drafted him. Some argued that that didn't necessarily mean that he wouldn't grow out of it. And sure, there have been extenuating circumstances, not the least of all being a revolving door at the head coach position.

But we all deal with these issues in life, but it is our job to move through these obstacles and make the most out of life, especially for something we really want.

Daye strikes me as the kind of guy who really doesn't like basketball, but was forced into it because he is tall.

The lack of effort is the most alarming thing about Daye, and the saddest. Larry  Brown used to say that he never coached effort. His thinking was that if he had to, the game was already lost.


Other options

If Detroit decides to either trade Daye or simply choose to not offer him his qualifying offer of $4 million for next year, that would open the door for a few things.

One, it frees up minutes for the Pistons' other young guys. Khris Middleton, Kyle Singler and even Jonas Jerebko would gain more valuable playing time.

Furthermore, in combination with the money they will be shedding by Corey Maggette's expiring contract, the Pistons could become players in free agency.

There are a ton of talented big men who will be free agents next year, and Detroit could make a run at one.

Derrick Favors, Josh Smith, Paul Millsap and J.J. Hickson could each help this team.

Furthermore, the Pistons could decide to finally turn the page on Tayshaun Prince and upgrade that position.

Worst-case scenario, it allows Detroit some extra cash to improve the overall depth of the squad, and lock up Greg Monroe to a nice long extension.

The bottom line is that we can make all the excuses up in the world for Daye's underwhelming play, but at the end of the day, he just isn't worth another contract.


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