Is It Time to Go for Richard Hamilton?

Tony Dean MichaelsContributor IJuly 1, 2009

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 24:  Richard Hamilton #32 of the Detroit Pistons looks across the court in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 24, 2009 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  The Cavaliers won 79-68.  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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It is that time of year again…that time of year where everybody from analysts, journalists, and fans alike come together on these boards and sites and start throwing out our ideas of what our favorite teams should be doing in the coming weeks.

While most of these ideas will never turn into anything solid, many of them do have a solid foundation and make a lot of sense.

I think it’s time for Richard ‘Rip’ Hamilton to be moved. I believe that this is a strong time to trade him, at a time where he would be an excellent player for another team but will fail to produce for the Detroit Pistons.

Rip is a very talented player, and possibly the best shooter in the league, especially from mid-range. However, he has a distinct inability to create his own shot or penetrate into the lane. While this has never proven to be much of an issue in the past, it is becoming ever so apparent now.

Rip will give 20+ points each night consistently, as long as he is on a team with players who are greatly skilled at running and offense and ball distribution. He needs teammates who can quickly learn his sweet spots, block out for him, and provide him with the ball at the right moment for him to shoot.

In a system like this, he would flourish. However, the Pistons no longer have this system due to this past year’s trade of Rip’s former backcourt mate Chauncey Billups, a key playmaker for the Pistons during their recent run of success, and an important piece to the Denver Nuggets team who made it to the Western Conference Finals.

 Detroit has a lot of faith in third-year guard Rodney Stuckey, although they are starting to doubt whether or not he has the ability to become a full-time point guard. With the emergence of Will Bynum, they now have two proven guards who have yet to establish their ability to run an offense. I believe that there is a chance for either of them to become good playmakers, but even if that does happen, it will not be in time for Rip to have any true relevance as a Piston. However, he still does have great value here, if only as a trade commodity.

 First off, his highest trade value would have to be to a team with an excellent passer running the point. Thus, you would have to determine which teams have great playmakers and could truly utilize Hamilton’s unique abilities. The teams with playmakers that fit the mold, in my opinion, are as follows (keep in mind that this isn’t an actual ranking of the teams, just a list:

1. New Orleans Hornets
2. Utah Jazz
3. Phoenix Suns
4. Los Angelos Clippers
5. Denver Nuggets
6. San Antonio Spurs
7. Dallas Mavericks
8. Philadelphia 76ers
9. Orlando Magic
10. New Jersey Nets

 Basically what I did with this list is compile a list of teams that have point guards with the capability of putting the ball into Hamilton’s hands, not necessarily the best point guards. After this, you must take into account which teams should not be talked to about Hamilton because there is nobody of his value for our team to receive in return, or they would not have a good use or need for him.

  The New Orleans Hornets would be one possible destination for Hamilton that I would entertain along with other fans, along with making sense for Pistons management. Pistons GM Joe Dumars has flirted with the idea of signing or trading for Tyson Chandler in the past, and with it looking like Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess won’t return, he will need to consider all options of skilled big men. With Chandler’s 7-1 height, large frame, and defensive strengths, he will be able to provide some good defense against the likes of Dwight Howard and Shaq in the East, along with Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki in the West. He helps fill the void that will be left by departing Wallace and McDyess, will offer a defensive presence that might make it more appealing for a quality front-court free agent to sign with Detroit, and will not disrupt any of Dumars’ salary cap options as Chandler and Hamilton have practically the same contract. 

On the other hand, this trade works out quite well for the Hornets, due to their open willingness to trade Chandler in the past. They also currently lack any major scoring threat in the backcourt to go along with Chris Paul. This move would immediately give the Hornets one of the best backcourts in the league, if not the best, as Chris Paul is perhaps the best passer in the league other than Jason Kidd and would easily be able to create shots for Rip. Also, multiple scoring options already on the team would make it very difficult for opposing teams to double-team any New Orleans players, making it easier for Paul to create a shot and for Hamilton to get open enough to take it.

 I would like to see a sign-and-trade with the Utah Jazz as well, due to the fact that current Jazz and former Piston Mehmet Okur is expected to opt out of his contract and seek a contract in the vicinity of what Hamilton is already making. I know that a lot of people would like to see Carlos Boozer or Paul Milsap here, but I do not feel that Boozer is a Piston-type player due to his lack of loyalty and his injury-prone history, nor do I feel that he is worth Hamilton’s contract. I also did not mention Milsap simply because Milsap commands a much smaller contract than Hamilton, so to make a trade work involving him, another player would have to be added. In that case, I fail to believe that Utah has the players in that price range that would give up any benefits or that they would be willing to let go.
Okur, on the other hand, is a large body who has great offensive capabilities and even though he is defensively limited, his offensive presence on the court would allow Kwame Brown to focus more on his own defense which is something Kwame has always preferred to do and did pretty well at this past year when no longer expected to be an offensive threat.

This trade would be a bit trickier than the option with the Hornets simply for two reasons. First, the Jazz already have a tall up-and-coming shooting guard in Ronnie Brewer, who in his second year is already averaging almost 14 ppg. That might make it a bit difficult to get them to bite on adding yet another tall shooting guard, especially if it means losing a quality big man. Secondly, if the deal with the Hornets were to go through, the defensive Chandler might give Okur a stronger reason to sign with Detroit as a free agent, due to the fact that his lack of defense would be compensated for while he simultaneously compensated for Chandler’s lack of offense. If the Pistons made a deal for Okur with Utah first, it would make it more difficult to obtain another player who could help solidify the front line.

 The Phoenix Suns would be a fun place for Hamilton, especially since he would be getting great ball movement from former league MVP Steve Nash. However, the options here are limited. Originally, I was just going to write this off because I do not believe the Suns have anything to offer Detroit. I know a lot of fans would like to see Amar’e Stoudemire here, but I don’t trust his health, especially at the high cost it would take to get him. However, I am reading that the Golden State Warriors offered the Suns a couple players including Andris Biedrens for Amar’e, which could prove interesting. I have no idea if it is true and don’t think the deal would happen because I doubt the Warriors would give up that much for Stoudemire. However, if it is true, defensively Biedrins would be great for us to give up Hamilton for, and would again attract offensive big men such as Okur to sign here. Last year, Biedrins averaged almost 12 rebounds per game, and is earning around the same as Rip.

 Another option that is a possibility, but unlikely, would be a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, due to the abilities of Baron Davis and the presence of several big men who could potentially fit in the Pistons’ organization, these men being Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, and Zach Randolph. Of course, Camby and Randolph are highly unlikely players due to the contract differences; Camby’s is much too low, which would force the Clippers to add another player (due to Camby’s age, I wouldn’t mind seeing them sweeten the deal with Al Thornton somehow….ahhh, to dream!) to make it work, and Randolph is making far too much money for Rip’s contract to evenly be traded. This leaves us with a questionable, however excellent trade possibility for Chris Kaman.

 First off, Kaman’s contract is virtually identical to Rip’s, making the trade easier for a 1-1 swap with some cash considerations. Secondly, Kaman played his college ball at Central Michigan after growing up in Grand Rapids. Most players, when given the opportunity to go home and play for the people he grew up surrounded by, tend to play with much more life in their game, and I believe Kaman would do the same. The only issue with this trade is whether or not there would be any friction by playing two shooting guards with starting-level skill together, but if they could make it work, it would be a great trade.

 Denver has a great point guard in Chauncey Billups who is already incredibly familiar with Hamilton’s game. However, Denver already has several up-and-coming quality young guards, and no quality big man they would be willing to trade in return.

Kenyon Martin would be a possibility, but I doubt they would release him, and his contract would require the Pistons to throw in more players on our already depleted roster. I would not expect to see this happen.

The San Antonio Spurs have a young point guard in Tony Parker who would be able to get him the ball very easily, but unfortunately they would never go for a trade because Hamilton would complain about losing playing time to Ginobili (unless Manu gets injured again), and they have no players that would be serviceable to the Pistons besides Tim Duncan, whom you know they will never trade away.

In Dallas, Jason Kidd could work with Rip, but there is nobody worth a straight trade except for Jason Terry, and his contract extends past 2011, which is too long. 

The 76ers could put him next to Andre Miller, but that would cause friction with Andre Iguodala. 

Orlando could put him next to Jameer Nelson, who has the abilities to work with Rip as well, but it would only work in a sign-and-trade for a player like Gortat, and the Magic will not look to retain him or take on Rip with that much cap space. Besides, Gortat is not worth that much money, so Orlando would also have to unload more players.

Finally, New Jersey has a couple decent point guards who, even though they prefer to shoot first and pass later, do have the ability to pass well, and opposing teams focusing on them will frequently leave players like Rip open.

Basically, I do not expect any of these trades to happen, but these are some teams that Dumars should look at if he decides it’s in his best interest to shop Hamilton to other teams. I would love to see a couple of the first possibilities I mentioned happen, but as we all know, they probably won’t.

Either way, I am a great fan of the Pistons, and am certain that we will rebound from this dismal season sooner than expected, and to greatness, especially with the much-needed removal of first-year coach Michael Curry.