With the ink still drying on the deal, it appears that the Pistons have moved on from the Ben Gordon experiment.
Just three years after signing him to a $55 million, five-year deal, Joe Dumars and company decided that the right opportunity came along to get rid of the underperforming guard just two days before the draft. That opportunity comes in the form of the Charlotte Bobcats, arguably the worst team in the NBA last season.
To get Charlotte owner Michael Jordan and GM Rich Cho to bite on the deal, however, Dumars had to include a future first round pick, although it is a protected pick. In return, the Pistons will get the services (and $10 million expiring contract) of 6’6”, 225 pound forward Corey Maggette.
The protection on that pick means:
- Charlotte gets the 2013 pick unless Detroit finishes in the lottery (top 14 of the draft), in which case the Pistons keep it.
- Charlotte would get the 2014 pick unless Detroit’s pick lands in the top nine of the draft, in which case the Pistons again keep the pick.
- Charlotte would get the 2015 pick unless the Pistons were selecting No. 1 overall.
- If, somehow, the Pistons still control the pick in 2016, it’s unprotected and goes to Charlotte, no matter what.
I completely understand giving up the pick if it means that the Bobcats will take on the $25 million that Gordon is owed. This move is Dumars saying, “Wow, I whiffed on that one,” and trying to rectify the move. With the $10 million from Maggette’s contract coming off the books at the end of the season, it’ll give the team around $13 million in 2013-2014 to resign Greg Monroe and possibly add other complimentary pieces.
While Gordon was spectacular at times (9-of-9 from three point range, 45 points against Denver) with the Pistons, he just never seemed to fit into the team’s mold. Maggette may be just a one-year stop-gap, but he provides more rebounding, toughness, leadership, and free throw shooting to the team than Gordon ever really did.
In 32 games last season, Maggette averaged 15 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He won’t be asked to shoulder much of the scoring load next season, but he is a much more reliable option than Damien Wilkins, the current back-up to Tayshaun Prince. He’s also six inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than Gordon; they can use his size.
Gordon averaged 12.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 26.9 minutes in 52 games last season, a far cry from the numbers in Chicago that got him the big money from Detroit.
This trade does two major things for the team: it allows them to explore the option of using their amnesty provision on inept forward Charlie Villanueva, and it also opens the possibilities of drafting a back-up shooting guard somewhere in the draft tomorrow.
If the team decides to use their amnesty provision on Villanueva, that would open up even more cap space in the future. Hopefully, Dumars uses that extra space wisely; a team like the Bobcats won’t always be around to shift the bad contract over to.
In terms of the draft, it allows the Pistons to explore the option of adding more young backcourt talent. One name that comes to mind is Ohio State guard William Buford. While it pains me to say I’d like a Buckeye on my favorite team, the kid is a good shooter, was a senior leader at OSU, and doesn’t need the ball on offense to do well. As Rodney Stuckey or Brandon Knight are dribble-penetrating to the hoop, Buford could be waiting on the wing for an open shot. For a team that ranked in the middle of the league for three-point field goal percentage, Buford could be very helpful.
Another guard I’ve heard plenty of good things about, and one that the team has worked out, is Iona’s Scott Machado. The 6’2” guard averaged 13.6 points and a whopping 9.9 assists per game last season for the Gaels. While he won’t score that much in the NBA, his obvious ability to see the court and find open teammates is a trait that the Pistons should definitely look into. He wouldn’t replace Gordon, but he would definitely help the point guard play of a team that averaged just 18.7 assists per game last season.
I’m not happy that the team had to give up a first round pick to get this deal done. I am, however, relieved that Dumars finally admitted his major mistake and is trying to rectify it. It was clear that Gordon wasn’t going to improve the team beyond where they were, so the deal makes sense to me. Now he just needs to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen twice.