The Detroit Pistons finally have a basic plan for moving forward. They want to get back to core Pistons values like playing strong defense and out-working their opponents.
This is music to the ears of the Pistons fans. However, when you inspect the roster, you have to wonder where the current crop of players fits with that plan.
Right now, this is basically a soft, guard-oriented roster that is very young. They have some pieces that no doubt fit this mold (Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe), but they also have some that likely should be moved (Rip Hamilton, Charlie Villanueva).
The key is deciding which players on the roster can help you gain players who fit your team identity who are on other rosters.
Here are five moves that would immediately help this team and fit with the new plan in Detroit.
The Los Angeles Clippers are a team in transition. Okay, they have been in transition for the better part of the last 20 years, but they are still transitioning so to speak.
For once, they have an exciting player that people actually want to see play. They also have a solid young nucleus around that star player, Blake Griffin.
What they don't have is a veteran leader that can play defense on the perimeter.
Tayshaun Prince could immediately help the Clippers win. He would be an excellent mentor to young swingman Al-Farouq Aminu and would bring enough offense to take pressure off their bigs.
What's more is that Prince is a local kid, as he was raised in Compton.
Kaman is the odd man out in Los Angeles as the Clippers seem primed to re-sign DeAndre Jordan to man the middle and pair with Griffin.
Kaman doesn't fit with the Clippers' plans, and was rumored to be on his way to Philadelphia for Andre Iguodala as late as last week.
Prince would be a better fit for this bunch than Iguodala, and would no doubt come cheaper.
Kaman would be an ideal fit in Detroit. He is a gritty, hard-working rebounder who is even a decent shot blocker. He is not a black hole offensively, but he has a nice array of post moves.
Most importantly, he would pair well with Greg Monroe, allowing the talented second-year pro to develop his offensive game more, and take some of the pressure off him defensively.
Kaman is also a local kid, growing up in Grand Rapids and attending Central Michigan University.
And perhaps most intriguing about Kaman is the fact that he only has one year left on his contract. So, at worst, you are getting him in a contract season and you can decide on whether he fits the long-term needs of the team after getting the best he can offer in his home state.
Seems like a slam dunk on the Pistons' end. The key will be getting Prince to agree to a sign-and-trade that would send him to a team that will likely not be contending next year.
The first move I suggested is a stopgap measure. Kaman could be a nice story for next year and at worst could provide a year of rebounding and intensity.
This move could be a franchise-changer.
Marc Gasol is a restricted free agent. That means the Memphis Grizzlies will have about a week to match any offers that are out there for his services.
So they will most certainly match any offer, right?
This is a team that is very much financially wobbly. They have a very young, very good roster full of talented players. However, those players are very well compensated.
Take a look at their starting roster: Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph will each make an average of about $17 million each of the next four seasons. Mike Conley is set to make an average of about $8 million over the next five. Plus you have O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur, Xavier Henry and a whole host of others that are making good hunks of coin.
So with the franchise on the hook for upward of $55 million next season before Gasol, and with the new collective-bargaining agreement likely including a hard cap, and with Memphis' fan apathy, is it really outside the realm of possibilities that they might not be able to afford Gasol?
Gasol is a perfect fit for Detroit. He is a legit big man that can score with his back to the hoop, can rebound like few can, and can block shots very well. All of these traits make him a perfect pairing with Greg Monroe.
Detroit could break the bank for Gasol, and they should.
Depending on the new CBA, most believe teams will be given a one-time salary amnesty. This would work as a mulligan, allowing each team the option of wiping one salary off their books.
Detroit could do this, and rid themselves of either Rip Hamilton's or Ben Gordon's terrible deal. This would give them enough cash to offer Gasol a $10 million-$15 million a season deal that would be difficult for Memphis to match.
On the flip side, if Memphis has the same amnesty opportunity, it would make sense for them to get rid of Gay, giving them enough cash to make this work.
Regardless, once free agency begins, Detroit should do all they can to pry Gasol away from Memphis.
The mess which has been Greg Oden's pro career in Portland could mercifully be coming to an end. The Trail Blazers claim to be interested in bringing him back, but they have been fairly non-committal in talking about the oft-injured center.
Talk around town here (I live in downtown Portland) is that most people just want to turn the page. They are tired of talking about whether Oden will make it back, and some wonder if their training staff is even equipped to help him succeed.
The ideal situation would be for Portland to sign and trade him to Detroit for someone that can help them now.
Portland needs some frontcourt help, and they need perimeter shooting. It seems like a deal for Charlie Villanueva could work for both squads.
Detroit could turn the page on a disastrous free-agent signing, and Portland could get immediate help for a player that has been a colossal disappointment.
Villanueva would help stretch the floor for Portland, and would provide instant offense off the bench.
Oden, meanwhile, would be a nice project for Arnie Kander and the training staff. Best case scenario, they bring him back to health and he becomes a nice piece of the future puzzle at center. Worst case scenario, he doesn't pan out and the Pistons are done with Villanueva.
This is your classic win-win situation.
Even if Portland balks at a sign-and-trade deal, Detroit could always just sign him outright and hope that Portland passes. This could also happen, but how much money do you want to bet on Oden?
Okay, I have heard some folks around the league say that Rip Hamilton still has value. They look at his makeup and see a Reggie Miller type that will be around and productive deep into his 30s. They see his tireless legs and think that he could help any number of teams.
These are all strong possibilities, and I am not in a position to disagree with the bulk of them.
What I do know is that he needs to get out of Detroit immediately.
So there are scenarios out there that could end up with Hamilton staying in Detroit and being productive. The Pistons could deal Ben Gordon and keep Hamilton. This is possible. But it doesn't fit with the new model of Pistons that the team is looking to produce.
The team wants to be built around high-character guys that want to out work the opponents. Hamilton, while he was like that in the past, has become the face of all that was wrong in Detroit the last few years. Therefore, he no doubt will have to be the sacrificial lamb that purges the team of their past woes.
In a lot of ways, the dealing of Hamilton will be a symbolic gesture to the fans that things are changing in Motown.
It flat out has to happen.
Now, if Detroit is granted a salary amnesty in the new CBA, this could be an easy move. However, I think that the Pistons would be more interested in chopping Gordon's salary in this event.
The best move would be to deal Hamilton. So who needs a shooting guard?
Utah picked up their shooting guard of the future in the draft in Alec Burks, but they could still be interested in a veteran. However, this seems unlikely.
Chicago remains a strong possibility, but a trade would be hard to manage. The only Bull that has a salary that could match up would be Luol Deng, but Chicago probably wants to keep him. They undoubtedly are still interested in Hamilton, but they most likely want to sign him outright if Detroit can buy him out.
Another team that could become part of this mix is Golden State. The Warriors drafted Klay Thompson, who figures to be their shooting guard of the future. However, they likely would love to have a veteran shooting guard in the mix as well. And with the likely trade of Monta Ellis coming any day now, this could be a very different team.
Detroit would be wise to at least inquire about Andris Biedrins. Biedrins is limited offensively, but he can block shots, and is one of the better rebounders in the game. He is tough, athletic and can run the floor.
Regardless of how they do it, Hamilton needs to be gone.
I have to admit, before this offseason, I knew not a ton about Chris Singleton. In my mind, he was the kid from Florida State that didn't live up to all the expectations associated with him.
He had a good college career, but he was limited offensively. Sure, he was a good defender, but his ceiling was probably not super high.
Then I spent a few months reviewing tapes of prospective college players. And Singleton (along with Marshon Brooks and Enes Kanter) started to jump out to me.
Singleton is an athletic marvel at the small forward spot. In a lot of ways, he physically reminds me of Ron Artest. He is quite simply a man on the court. And while his offense could definitely use some fine-tuning, his defense is really want stands out.
Plain and simple, Singleton is the best defensive player in this year's draft. I know, Bismack Biyombo is slated as the next Ben Wallace by everyone and their momma, but watch the tape. Biyombo did some special things against players that will never play in this league. Sure, he looked good in the Nike game, but that was one game.
Singleton was a stopper in multiple games against better talent. He can defend four positions at the next level and could be an immediate help in Detroit.
So how can they get him from Wasington? This is where it gets tricky.
Washington likes him a lot, but they are in love with Jan Vesely. They drafted Singleton because he fell to them, not because he fits them. Vesely is their future at small forward.
So what will it take to get him?
Washington does not need another small forward. They already have Rashard Lewis and Vesely. They also have no need for another guard as their are loaded with Jordan Crawford and Nick Young at the 2 and they have their franchise player in John Wall at the point.
Up front they have some needs, but they are solid. Detroit could offer a future No. 1 pick and to sweeten up the deal, could add Will Bynum and Austin Daye.
Okay, it will be tough to throw in the towel with Daye. He was just a first-rounder a couple of years ago and has a lot of potential. But he also has gained some bad habits by following around the wrong guys in Detroit and may never become what the Pistons want him to be. Furthermore, it will be difficult to give up on the "Knight and Daye" pairing that I'm sure George Blaha is salivating over saying.
But Singleton is exactly what Daye is not: tough. Singleton could be a lock-down defender at this level, and would be a nice open-floor option for Knight on offense.