The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Eastern Conference preview (for the next five seasons) continued

Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 August 2006

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have most of the big names on the team under long-term contracts, the exception being Chauncey Billups, who will be a free agent after this season if he exercises his player option. Most likely he’ll remain with the team for the sixth year of his $33.7 million contract and become a free agent in two years. Richard Hamilton is in the middle of a seven-year, $62 million contract, which is set to expire in 2008 should he opt out of his contract. If not, he’ll be a free agent in 2009. Rasheed Wallace is also under contract until 2009 and Tayshaun Prince is under contract until 2011 for only $48 million (the best contract of the group—by far). These are all marquee names, but there are reasons to be concerned if you are a Pistons fan (and to be happy if you are a Cavs fan).

First, Flip Saunders is your coach. If you watched him get totally out-coached in the NBA playoffs, which is to say if you watched the Pistons in the NBA playoffs, then you know what I’m talking about. He’s a Cleveland native, but I’m grateful he isn’t the Cavs’ coach. Second, Rasheed Wallace is owed a lot of money, will be 32 at the start of the season, and has a rich history of behavior problems, which doesn’t bode well for the Pistons should they want to trade him. $60 million is a lot to pay a player who scores 15 points per game and shoots a lot of threes (2600 in his career) but at a low percentage (.357%). He rebounds well and, when he’s on, is a huge mismatch against any power forward in the league. But he totally disappeared in the playoffs after guaranteeing victory and that had to gnash his teammates. Ben Wallace is gone to the Bulls, replaced by Nazr Mohammed, who is under contract until 2011 for $31 million. Losing Ben Wallace will hurt the Pistons (though not as much as signing him for $60 million over four years), and after the remaining starting four, there is a huge drop in talent. Flip Murray will be a nice backup to Billups and Hamilton, but Antonio McDyess, due to his $22.5 million contract, is paid far too much for a backup. Perhaps if he was used more the cost would justify his contribution, but as is his contract is more of a burden than anything. The Pistons are a lot like the Heat in that they have some talent locked up with long term deals, but that talent is on the back nine of their careers and the supporting cast is thin at best. Also like the Heat, this season is probably Detroit’s best chance at an NBA championship unless there are a couple of major changes to the roster in the next few seasons. If the Pistons resign Billups that will eat up a lot of cap space and limit what they can do in 2008 and beyond. The best thing going for Detroit right now is that the starting four are all very experienced.


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