A few days ago, Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince told reporters outside of the locker room what he thought the team needed next season. Among other things, he mentioned acquiring a veteran point guard to mentor rookie Brandon Knight. I can’t say I disagree. It just depends on who that veteran is.
Looking at the available free agents for 2012, the list is long and varied, from All-Star point guards to journeymen looking to find one more team to join.
- Deron Williams: He has a player option for almost $18 million, which means he could easily stay in Brooklyn with the Nets and continue making a ton of money. More than likely he’ll stay there, but if he were to leave, I couldn’t see him coming to Detroit. They couldn’t match the money, they’re still rebuilding, and he would immediately push Knight to the bench.
- Steve Nash: Being one of the best PGs ever, I would love seeing Nash in a Pistons uniform. He would immediately improve the point guard play of the team and BK would learn immensely from him. He’s a great player, funny guy, and a good teammate. Unfortunately, he’s never won a championship and would probably be looking for his last chance at one when he becomes a free agent. That means no chance for a non-contender, a.k.a. Detroit right now. It looks like Miami is a very possible landing for Nash.
- Jason Kidd: Again, one of the best PGs ever to play the game. His knees aren’t what they used to be, but he still manages to play at a high level with the Dallas Mavericks. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent, meaning he could go anywhere he wants. I could easily see him retiring as a Maverick, though, so I doubt he comes to Detroit.
- Chauncey Billups: Every Pistons fan’s dream acquisition. He is coming off the Achilles injury of last season, and he’s in his 30s, but he showed last season that he can still play. He would also reconnect with plenty of the players on the roster, and his return could even sway Ben Wallace into staying one more year. My only reservation about him coming back to Detroit is that he may create even more of a logjam at the guard position. Like I said, he can still play at a good level, so it could possibly reduce Knight’s playing time.
- Derek Fisher: The longtime Laker is nearing the end of his career, something that would probably suit the Pistons well. He has won five NBA championships, so ending his career on a non-contending team might not be on his list of concerns. He’s still a great spot-up shooter, so having a low-post presence to command a double-team would be crucial to his success, but if the Pistons can further develop Greg Monroe and another big man via the draft or free agency, Fisher could really fill a veteran need for Detroit.
- Earl Boykins: The fact that a 5’5”, 133 pound point guard can stay in the league for 14 seasons amazes me. It also shows that clearly he knows the game of basketball. He’s a lifetime journeyman, having played for 10+ teams in his career, so playing for one more (and possibly final) team before he retires may not be a concern for Boykins. He wouldn’t be a flashy signing, but his scrappy play would immediately endear him to the Detroit fans who still remember the Mike James/Lindsey Hunter pairing of the 2004 team. It would also instill that hard-nosed style of play in the rest of Detroit’s guards.
- Mike James: Speaking of Mike James, he’s an unrestricted free agent for the Chicago Bulls this offseason. If they don’t renew his contract, I could see him making a return to Detroit. His best statistical years weren’t as a Piston, but his tenacious defense helped the team win their third NBA title in 2004. He’s played for more teams than Boykins, including several overseas, so clearly he’s okay with being on the move.
- Kirk Hinrich: The former Jayhawk is playing for the Hawks right now, but once the season is over, the Pistons would be smart to take a chance at acquiring Hinrich. He did make $8 million last season, so it would all depend on the asking price, but Hinrich has a career average of 5.6 assists per game, so he’s done well at the point guard position. He’s considered a pretty tough player, as well, which would fit in well with the last two mentioned players, Boykins and James.
These are just a few of the options that the Pistons could look at this offseason if they consider Prince’s point about the need for a veteran point guard valid. Here’s a list of available free agents. What do you think? Can the Pistons do better, or will they pick up another rookie guard in the draft?