Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.
As if their record was not awful enough, the Detroit Pistons 2010-2011 season was filled with more drama than a Real World episode. Led by Richard Hamilton, several players staged a walkout on first year head coach John Kuester. Now, the Joe Dumars and the Pistons enter a critical off-season without a whole lot of cap flexibility.
By: David Kay
Detroit Pistons (30-52 last season)
2010-2011 Season Summary:
You know what is not a good sign for your team… when the veterans stage a walkout on their head coach. That is what happened this past season for Detroit and first year head coach John Kuester after he benched long-time Piston Richard Hamilton. As a result, inner turmoil tore through the team as they suffered through another miserable season.
Hamilton, Ben Gordon, and Charlie Villanueva eat up almost half of Detroit’s salary cap but fail to live up to their value. Hamilton posted his lowest scoring total since his rookie season while Gordon and Villanueva both averaged around 11 points per game which is a career low for both players. With all three guys under contract for two more years, their inability to carry their weight has put the Pistons and general manager Joe Dumars in a rough spot.
With Jonas Jerebko missing the entire season due to an Achilles injury, Austin Daye failing to capitalize on his opportunity in his second season, and the point guard situation still in limbo despite Rodney Stuckey leading the team in scoring; Detroit struggled to find consistency with their line-up, having at least eleven players start double-digit games.
There were some positives amid the madness. Tayshaun Prince continued on with his steady career and was the only Piston to start every game he played in. Greg Monroe showed improvement during the season averaging around 13 points, 9.5 rebounds per game over the final month and a half of the season and became an integral part of the Pistons while also giving them a low-post scoring option. Tracy McGrady revived his career in Detroit as he was able to stay healthy and prove he still has some gas left in the tank.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Greg Monroe/Ben Wallace/Jason Maxiell
PF: ^Jonas Jerebko/Charlie Villanueva
SF: Austin Daye
SG: Richard Hamilton/Ben Gordon/Terrico White
PG: #Rodney Stuckey/Will Bynum
SF-Tayshaun Prince (UFA)
G/F-Tracy McGrady (UFA)
PF-Chris Wilcox (UFA)
SF-DaJuan Summers (UFA)
#PG-Rodney Stuckey (RFA)
^F-Jonas Jerebko (RFA)
’11-’12 Team Salary: approximately $48.3 million
It is an interesting debate as to whether John Kuester or the players are to blame for the mutiny that occurred this past season. Whichever side you take, all indications are pointing towards Kuester returning for his second season despite the team walking out on him in practice and laughing at him after he got ejected from a game.
Whoever ends up being the head coach for next season needs to build a unity with this roster. More segregation and disrespect for authority will only set this franchise back and Joe Dumars needs to hope Kuester can find a common ground with his players and that the veterans on the roster can better adapt to his coaching. If not, Kuester will likely get the boot and a more player-friendly coach will need to be brought in since it would be too difficult for the Pistons to undergo a major roster change.
2. Small Forward:
One would assume that unrestricted free agent Tayshaun Prince will be moving on with his career after eight seasons in Detroit. The Pistons do not seem to be moving in the right direction as a team and Prince should be sought after by several title contending teams this off-season. The Pistons will need to pursue a replacement since Austin Daye does not seem ready to assume the starting role.
3. Another Big:
While Greg Monroe seems to have a bright future ahead of him, Detroit is still lacking a lot of size inside. Chris Wilcox is a free agent, Ben Wallace is likely entering his final year as a pro, and Jason Maxiell is an under-sized, over-paid role player. Jonas Jerebko’s return should improve the play at power forward, but the Pistons could still use a defensive presence in the middle especially since opponents shot 48.6% versus them which is the highest percentage allowed by any team in the league.
4. Point Guard:
The jury is still out on whether or not Rodney Stuckey is the long-term solution at the point. Like most, I have always been of the mindset that he is more of a combo guard than true floor leader. Plus, he is also a restricted free agent this off-season and Detroit might have to let him walk rather than pony up a long-term extension to keep him around. Will Bynum is a solid back-up but should not be getting major minutes. If Stuckey returns for one more season, this will not be an immediate need, but the Pistons should be on the look out for an up-grade if the opportunity arises.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.