When Detroit shipped off Chauncey Billups, they lost more than just some points and assists. They lost the team leader.
Detroit is a team with a strong identity and tradition that is centered around hard work, toughness, defense, and team. When the Pistons have embraced this identity they are at their best. The back to back championships of the "Bad Boys" and the championship in 2004 were both won with these concepts.
It takes a leader to win in the NBA. It can be the right coach or the right player.
Michael Curry is not going to manage games like Larry Brown and he's not the strong leader that can focus this team. That doesn't mean he has to go. It means Detroit needs to find the right player or two.
A game manager and a floor leader, that's priority one.
The free agent market does not appear to have the type of leader Detroit needs. It is filled with role players mainly. Guys such as Chris Wilcox, Jarvis Hayes, Trevor Ariza, and Brandon Bass for example.
The Pistons could move some players and have a deep, defensive team but they would be lacking in star power.
Carlos Boozer and Hedo Turkoglu are good options to bring some star power to Detroit but neither of them are capable of pushing a team over the top.
Expect another trade this offseason. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are both good players with decent value. Detroit could easily cash one of them in for a point guard or center.
Detroit could afford both Turkoglu and Boozer if they traded Tayshaun for a veteran point guard. A player like Jose Calderon comes to mind with current small forward Shawn Marion on the market.
Congestion at the shooting guard position would still be a problem, and shipping out Hamilton and his contract would be a wise move. It is a tough decision to make, but Stuckey is younger, costs less, and has real upside. He needs to move to the shooting guard position.
For Hamilton and a second round pick (No. 44), Detroit could move back into the elite talent in this year's draft while keeping their No. 15 pick. This would save money and add youthful talent to the roster.
The Pistons are in good shape when you consider the finances. They should have enough cap space to be in the to three overall. With a solid franchise and a decent roster, the Pistons are in better shape than New York to bring in a franchise player. Miami should be in good shape as well.
Boozer and Turkoglu do not necessarily fit the identity of Detroit, and passing on them is a real possibility. The Piston could fill out the roster with role players and youth and position themselves for the free agency class of 2010.
If they do not make a run at the top free agents, expect a trade or two to happen, and soon.