Detroit Pistons: 3 Questions That Must Be Answered Immediately
The NBA has had a whirlwind few days as teams and free agents alike have scrambled to open the season on time.
One team that has been ominously quiet and unpredictable is the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons stunned most Detroit fans by re-signing Tayshaun Prince and cutting ties with Terico White.
It's not as though those moves seemed impossible, but at the end of last year, they seemed highly improbable.
White is coming off an injury but seemed to be a good bet to open the season as a contributor to this team.
And Prince seemed destined to move on to another team after the nightmare which was the John Kuester era in Detroit.
Other than that, however, the Pistons have not really been linked to too many players.
But those that think the Pistons are done for the offseason had better think again.
This is still a team with more questions than answers.
Here are three questions that must be answered.
What Is To Become of Rodney Stuckey?
What a long, strange trip it has been for Rodney Stuckey.
He was essentially acquired for Darko Milicic and was a much higher draft pick than most assumed he would be.
In fact, few had heard of the swing man when he was drafted.
Then he got hurt and had a truncated rookie year.
Then he came on in the playoffs and became a spark plug off the bench.
Then he became Chauncey Billups' replacement at point guard.
Then he essentially lost that job in the midst of the Kuester debacle and became everyone's favorite scape goat around town.
And then, he was cut loose.
Wait, that last one didn't happen yet. But could it?
Stuckey is currently a restricted free agent, but the Pistons have right of first refusal. So far, they are not tipping their hand as to what they are going to do with Stuckey.
They could elect to sign him to a multi-year deal like they did with Jonas Jerebko. They could choose to just tender him his qualifying offer of just over $3 million and let him become an unrestricted free agent next year. They could choose to trade him. Or they could cut him loose.
At this point, Stuckey is the Pistons best back-court defender. He's not a good shooter from deep, but he has an uncanny ability to get to the hoop. He has great athleticism, but he makes poor decisions with the basketball. He probably is not suited to being a point guard, but he lacks the range to be an effective shooting guard.
So what should Detroit do with Stuckey?
Personally, I think there are only two things to do with him. Either sign him to his qualifying offer and make him earn a big contract extension by his play, effectively putting him in a contract year. Or, trade him for a big man.
The Pistons can't afford to just let him walk unless another team offers him a huge deal. They also can't give him a contract extension just yet considering his questionable attitude. What if he doesn't like the new head coach? Then the Pistons are stuck with him for the life of his contract.
Regardless, this needs to be settled quickly.
Will Rip Hamilton Be Part of the Problem or the Solution?
If Stuckey was a nuisance last year, Hamilton was the plague.
But that whole episode has been hashed out and re-hashed too often. Everyone that is reading this knows the history.
So what should become of Hamilton?
Obviously, the Pistons are not planning on using the amnesty provision on Hamilton at this time.
They also have a glut of guards on their team.
Some of what they do with Hamilton will depend on what they do with Stuckey. If they trade Stuckey for some frontcourt help, they probably would like to keep Hamilton. If they keep Stuckey, they had better shop Hamilton.
The first step in this, however, is finding out where Hamilton's head is at.
New coach Lawrence Frank needs to have a meeting with Hamilton. He needs to find out if Hamilton is on board with this team and his program. He has to find out if Hamilton is still going to be a diva about his minutes and role on the team.
If Hamilton is unable or unwilling to buy into Frank's system, he needs to be dumped immediately, even if it means going back on their word to not using the get out of jail free card.
This is a young team that needs to get back to their roots. The fans will have patience for a young team that plays hard and loses. They won't have patience for diva attitudes and the corruption of the young core by the old guard.
I personally think that Hamilton will buy into the system and will play his butt off in order to enhance his trade value and will then get dealt before the season is over to a contending team.
Who Is Going To Start Up Front?
Greg Monroe is a starter on this team, whether it's at center or power forward.
Tayshaun Prince will once again play small forward.
Besides that, the starting lineup, in particular the frontcourt, is incredibly unsettled.
Right now, the Pistons only have a few players on the roster that could play power forward. They have rookie second-round pick Vernon Macklin, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell, a softer-than-butter Charlie Villanueva and a nearly retired Ben Wallace.
Chris Wilcox remains an option, but he could also sign elsewhere.
The Pistons desperately need another big body.
The free-agent market is grim at best, but there are some options here.
Kris Humphries is the name I most like. He plays with energy, averaged a double-double last year and is eager to get to work after some offseason fireworks in his personal life.
Other options could be Carl Landry, Earl Clark or Troy Murphy.
Otherwise, the Pistons need to use their backcourt depth to deal for a big man. This is not a roster that's complete, and Detroit has a definite need here that must be addressed.