There’s been a lot of talk the past few months that the Pistons are going to trade Rip Hamilton and/or Tayshaun Prince. Such talk has been justified ever since the Pistons signed Ben Gordon and drafted Austin Daye, the apparent heirs to Hamilton and Prince, respectively. Not to mention that the Pistons have recently traded/lost Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, and Antonio McDyess. Hamilton has been the more likely candidate to be dealt since Gordon is more than able to start in his place, while Daye is more of an unknown at this point.
It is my opinion that the Pistons will move Rip Hamilton at some point. Ben Gordon is simply a better player than him at this point and it does not make sense to pay him over $10 million a year to come off the bench. Not to mention, I really doubt Hamilton’s performances will warrant his salary for the next 3 years. Not to say he won’t be productive. His game should age well just like Reggie Miller’s, but not enough to justify his $12 million salary in three years. You just cannot have that much money tied into one position. Maybe if it was the point guard or center position, but definitely not at shooting guard.
Hamilton will be difficult to trade because of the length of his contract. And you would not want to trade Hamilton for cap space (like with Billups) because that does not make much sense with a decreasing salary cap. Personally, I’d like to see the Pistons trade Hamilton and Jason Maxiell/Chris Wilcox for a promising young big man. Some potential players like that include Chris Bosh and David Lee.
I had the idea for this article before Prince was injured, so that changes some things with regards to trading him. In light of such news, I think the Pistons should see how the rookies Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, and DaJuan Summers play this season and possibly try to move Prince next season when he will be on the last year of his contract and much easier to trade.
Ideally Prince would be traded to a team that needs a proven veteran small forward in exchange for a big man. Three teams come to mind are the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trailblazers, and Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers might want Prince as a consolation prize if they can’t acquire LeBron James this upcoming summer while the Blazers have had an interest in Prince for some time. And the Grizzlies might have an interest in Prince if they cannot hold onto restricted free agent Rudy Gay. Players from these teams I wouldn’t mind seeing in Pistons blue include Chris Kaman, Travis Outlaw, Martell Webster, Joel Przybilla, Rudy Gay, and Marc Gasol.
In summary, I personally would like to see both players traded at some point. Ben Gordon is younger, better, and making too much money to come off the bench behind Rip Hamilton. He needs starters’ minutes and the only way to get that is to play other players out of position (bad) or put someone like Rodney Stuckey or Hamilton on the bench is crunch time (even worse).
I would also like to see Prince moved as well because I believe he’s peaked as a player and has been a huge disappointment when it’s mattered most in the playoffs. However, he is (when healthy) the Pistons most valuable trade chip and should be treated as such. If we were discussing this pre-injury, I would say that Prince was too valuable to trade this year since he has no clear backup to replace him like Hamilton does. It is odd though that Joe Dumars drafted Austin Daye, who could be Prince’s twin, except he’s taller, longer, more athletic, cheaper, and a better shooter than Prince
Again, there’s no rush to move either of these two players. The Pistons aren’t going to be contending for a title this year. Let’s wait and see if a playoff caliber team needs a playoff-proven veteran shooting guard or a do-it-all small forward to get them over the hump. The last thing I want is Joe Dumars to trade Hamilton or Prince just to trade them. If the right deal comes along, then pull the trigger by all means.