The Detroit Pistons are a team hoping to make big strides in the Eastern Conference this season. If they do, it will be because of the development of their young stars. Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight are youngsters with at least one year of NBA experience that the Pistons will rely on heavily.
Austin Daye was once considered part of that group too. He was drafted the same year as Jerebko, 24 picks earlier, and showed promise in his first two seasons. He wasn't spectacular, but for a young player he was developing nicely.
His unique attributes made him a player with a ton of potential that the Pistons wanted to hold on to. There aren't many 6'11" guys that can shoot from long range and block shots like Daye can.
Unfortunately, in his third year Daye saw his game take a nosedive. The ability that made him unique—his shooting— betrayed him and his confidence faded. He posted career lows in every offensive category (except free-throw shooting percentage).
The Pistons' haven't made any formal announcements about Daye's future with the team. However, considering recent developments, no one should hold their breath for him to get a contract extension by October 31—the deadline.
Although he showed signs of life during summer league games in Orlando this offseason—he was one of the best players on the court—any hopes that he could build on that performance have been all but dashed this preseason.
He's been the invisible man. He's only appeared in four out of seven games with an average of only 13 minutes per game according to the Pistons' official website. He's also posting the worst shooting percentage on the team.
So much for turning things around.
If he's not part of the rotation now, he won't be part of it during the regular season either. Detroit has a bevy of forwards on their roster ahead of him on the depth chart. That makes it difficult for him to prove his worth in this his contract year.
The Pistons seem content to let him ride the bench and become a free agent at the end of the season. After last year, who can blame them.
Given his performance, it would be surprising if the Pistons tendered him an offer next June as well. That means he'd be an unrestricted free agent and free to join the highest bidder.
The Pistons shouldn't let that happen. They should trade him now and get some value in return. They've invested too much in him to just let him walk.
Think about it this way. If you bought a new house and poured millions of dollars into renovations, you wouldn't turn around and give it away for free would you?
Neither should the Pistons. Chances are some team is willing to take a flyer on a 6'11" 24-year-old with a shooter's touch, and Joe Dumars should be on the phone with that team's General Manager yesterday.
Daye's star has fallen. His time in Detroit has passed, and Daye's lingering on the bench, taking up a roster spot, won't benefit anyone. It's time for the Pistons to move on.
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