The Detroit Pistons first round playoff elimination ended a run of six consecutive Eastern Conference finals appearances, increasing the chances of a major roster overhaul this offseason.
Allen Iverson is currently a free agent and will free up roughly $22 million in cap room for the Pistons to work with this summer. The foreseen departure of aging forward Rasheed Wallace will add another $13 million.
Pistons general manager Joe Dumars has been known to make daring moves, with the Chauncey Billups trade and allowing fan favorite Ben Wallace leave for Chicago back in 2006.
Detroit’s large amount of cap room and four selections in the upcoming draft will allow the Pistons to make a splash and Dumars seems eager to get started.
"We don't have to wait until July 1," Dumars said about making deals. "Sitting here with four draft picks (one first round, three second round) and cap space makes you a prime candidate to start your business before July 1."
An interesting situation may occur in the days leading up to the draft and during first few selections itself.
Memphis and Oklahoma City have former No. 4 overall picks at point guard with Mike Conley and Russell Westbrook respectively, which will likely take them out of the market for highly touted point guard Ricky Rubio.
The Grizzlies recent trouble with foreign players, Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro, leading to both players’ departures, doesn’t bode well for a team in position to grab Tanzanian center Hasheem Thabeet or the Spaniard Rubio.
Oklahoma City may not be an ideal destination either, though it’s been reported Rubio wouldn’t have an issue playing with the Thunder.
They are being linked heavily with draft prospect Stephen Curry, reportedly attending all his Davidson home games with the thought of moving him to shooting guard. If the Thunder decide to take Curry, they would surely look to move down a few spots.
Memphis and Oklahoma City are stacking up young talent and could look to capitalize on the opportunity of trading the pick to acquire some great assets.
The Sacramento Kings are allegedly very interested in acquiring the services of Rubio and if Thabeet is still on the board at No. 3, the Detroit Pistons should attempt to trade up and draft him.
The 7’3” center would give Detroit an improved version of former Piston Ben Wallace. Thabeet averaged 11 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks in 32 minutes during his final season at UConn.
He could bring a defensive mindset back to Detroit, something that has been absent the last few years.
The Pistons became a more offensive team and haven’t been able to get past the Eastern Conference Finals, which resulted in the Billups trade and Dumars’ consistent emphasis for change.
Any Detroit-Oklahoma City trade would include a combination of players and draft picks.
The Thunder are apparently infatuated with Ohio State center B.J. Mullens and would draft him if they acquired the No. 15 pick (Detroit’s pick).
Oklahoma is one of the few teams with a enough cap space to allow them to take on a contract or two.
Pistons guard Richard Hamilton would make sense for the Thunder, giving them another offensive weapon besides young superstar Kevin Durant. More importantly for Oklahoma City, the addition of Hamilton would keep double teams away from Durant.
Detroit would gain a quality big man in Thabeet and allow them to add an offensive power forward through free agency like Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap.
Though both players are slightly undersized at roughly 6’9”, the lack of height is less important with Thabeet’s presence.
Detroit wouldn’t feel the burden of a large rookie salary; offsetting it by shipping Hamilton to Oklahoma City, freeing up nearly $11 million a year.
It would also make the roster more enticing for a free agent from the star-studded 2010 class to sign with Detroit.
Thabeet, Stuckey, and any talented free agents Detroit may sign this summer would give a 2010 free agent a nice supporting cast.
It remains to be seen if Detroit is seriously interested in trading up for Thabeet, but Dumars has shown Pistons’ fans that anything is possible.
It would sway the team back to the Detroit basketball that they have been accustomed to for years—defensive basketball.