Detroit Pistons: 7 Most Regrettable Contracts in Team History
This lockout business is not fun for me.
Granted, it's not fun for anybody except the owners. But it is a real bummer for me, since I love writing about the Detroit Pistons.
But mix in the fact that this team has been in flux for over a year with the ensuing sale of the team, and the reality that this lockout will likely last the entire season if not longer, it may be a while before we really get into some fun Detroit Pistons topics.
As a result, my editor suggested this storyline, and I am going to run with it. Furthermore, this will touch off a series of articles that I will be doing in which we take a look back at some of the years past.
This article highlights the worst free-agent signings in team history. Granted, since free agency is a relatively new phenomenon in basketball, and contracts have only become really big over the last decade or so, this slideshow will be skewed more towards the last 10-15 years.
Here are the seven worst free-agent moves and bad contracts in team history.
7. Loy Vaught
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This guy, by the time he got to Detroit, was utterly worthless.
The Pistons were in the process to trying to bolster their roster around Grant Hill. So they made a "splash" by acquiring Christian Laettner, Loy Vaught and Jud Buchler.
Laettner would have made this list, but he was acquired via trade. So Vaught gets the nod here.
Vaught was a stud at Michigan, due to his workmanlike attitude and play. He was even pretty good for the Clippers.
However, by the time the Pistons got him, he was washed up.
Injuries had decimated his career, and the Pistons really didn't do their due diligence in researching this before they got him.
The Pistons paid Vaught over $8 million over two years to average about two points per game and roughly the same in rebounds.
Dallas mercifully took him off the Pistons' hands the next year, but this was just truly a terrible move.
6. Rasheed Wallace
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After Detroit dealt for Wallace and won the NBA Championship in 2004, they were faced with a tough choice. Either re-sign Wallace, or re-sign Memo Okur.
Wallace did help Detroit to nearly repeat the next year, but he then had a precipitous decline.
Okur, meanwhile, became a stud for Utah.
Compare the two. Wallace made an average of about $12 million per season for five years and averaged about 12 points and seven rebounds per game.
Okur made an average of about $8 million per year for Utah and averaged roughly 16 points and eight rebounds per game.
At the time, this seemed like a no-brainer. But Wallace's history should have warned us that this would end badly. And it did.
5. Nazr Mohammed
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The Pistons had just lost the face of the team, Ben Wallace, in free agency to the hated Chicago Bulls. And to lessen the blow, the Pistons signed Nazr Mohammed.
Needless to say, it didn't work out.
Mohammed really didn't fit well in Detroit. He had bad hands, was not nearly as quick or athletic as Wallace and provided very little help for the Pistons.
After one bad season that cost Detroit over $5 million, the Charlotte Bobcats mercifully took him off our hands.
4. Brian Williams (Bison Dele)
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Bison Dele was an intriguing person for a number of reasons.
One in particular was his game. He was a big man that could score and rebound, but he hadn't yet reached his potential.
So Detroit made him the richest player in team history at the time.
What did they get for their seven-year, $50 million investment? Two relatively productive years and an inexplicable retirement from the game.
Dele, it appears, never really liked the game of basketball. And after playing 49 games in the strike-shortened 1999 season, he retired.
3. Charlie Villanueva
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This move never made sense. The Pistons had unloaded a ton of salary cap space and used at least part of it on a colossally soft "power" forward that couldn't rebound or defend.
It is as though team president Joe Dumars was doing his best Jim Leyland impersonation in ignoring the fans' interests.
At best, Villanueva would bring the worst things we hated about Rasheed Wallace with his tendency to turn it on and off at his leisure, and spending an inordinate amount of time on the three-point line.
At worst, he would be a lazy malcontent that contributed nothing other than a handful of threes.
Nobody liked this move. After a couple years, we got just about what we have expected from him. He earns roughly $8 million a year to average roughly 11 points and four rebounds per game. Those are numbers you should get from your backup point guard.
The really bad news is that the Pistons have Charlie "Don't call me hustle" Villanueva through 2014, as he would be insane to decline his player option for $8.5 million that year.
And with a new collective bargaining agreement that figures to cut salaries by at least 25 percent, this deal will look even worse in a year or two.
2. Rip Hamilton
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Now before the five remaining Rip Hamilton fans jump down my throat for this, I am not talking about the initial move to bring him to Detroit.
The move was brilliant albeit unpopular at the time.
No, this is about the extension they signed him to after acquiring Allen Iverson.
This started the dark days in Detroit.
The Pistons really didn't need to give Rip a huge extension. But Dumars wanted to reassure Hamilton that the team would be built around him.
It didn't matter, as Hamilton became a malcontent and openly griped about his role with the team, Billups' departure and the coaching staff.
Now, Hamilton has by far the largest salary on the team, and is due at least $20 million over the next two years.
Add to this the fact that the next year Dumars brought in his replacement, this deal truly is a head-scratcher.
1. Ben Gordon
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Some will argue that this is unfair. Some will say that he still could become a big contributor.
But the fact of the matter is that this deal has not worked out for Detroit.
When Detroit gave Gordon this deal that averaged nearly $12.5 million per season two years ago, most people scratched their heads.
Sure, he was the most talented scorer in that year's free-agent crop. But Detroit had just re-signed Hamilton to a big extension and most people still saw Rodney Stuckey as a shooting guard.
Why bring in yet another big contract at a position of strength?
Two years later, Gordon figures to be a sixth man at best on this team.
For a guy that will still be on the books until after 2014 with a contract that is immovable at best, this move is truly terrible.
The only hope that Detroit has is that the new CBA will have an out clause in it that will allow teams to buy out at least one bad contract without salary cap ramifications.
Otherwise, the Pistons had better hope that Lawrence Frank can turn Gordon into this generation's Vinnie Johnson.