I’ve watched every Pistons game since the Allen Iverson trade a few weeks ago and what I’ve seen most of time hasn’t been pretty. They’re obviously struggling mightily as they work through major on-court adjustments as well as A.I.’s practice issues and other related drama.
The changes in their makeup shouldn’t be taken lightly – the on-court adjustment is going to take real time. Think about it. They’ve had to learn how to play without a true point guard. They’ve had to adjust to A.I.’s “defense” compared to Chauncey‘s. Rip Hamilton now has to spend a lot of time checking the other team’s best guard, a task that used to fall on Chauncey. Then, after chasing scorers through series of screens and cuts, Rip has had to learn how to get himself into position to score without Billups on the floor.
But after watching a bunch of Pistons games, it looks like they have one glaring need that needs to be addressed quickly if they’re going to make any kind of run this season: they need a low post player who score on the block. They don’t necessarily need Tim Duncan; they just need a guy who can be some kind of threat near the hoop. As it stands right now, Tayshaun Prince might be their most effective offensive post player (Please don’t throw Rasheed‘s name in the mix – he’s more than happy to spend the vast majority of his time just hanging out three feet behind the arc at the top of the key to fire away from deep). What you’re left with is a team of mostly erratic jump shooters, unable to manufacture any kind of easy offense. And they’re not a young, athletic team by any stretch, so buckets in transition don’t come easily either.
So what’s the answer? It’s not this guy. He helps, but is mostly just a pick-and-pop big these days.
The way I see it, they have three options:
1. Trade Tayshaun. His deal is up in the 2010-11 season, and a contending team looking for his unique blend of skills could take the bait. And aside from Rodney Stuckey and Iverson’s contract, Prince is probably their most attractive trading chip. According to the trade checker, a Prince/Chris Kaman straight up deal would work. I doubt that it would be that simple, but you never know.
2. Trade Allen Iverson. It’s probably way too early to give up on this experiment, and a major reason why Joe Dumars made the Iverson trade in the first place was to have the option at the end of the season to re-sign Allen or just let him go, clearing a ton of cap space. Allen’s expiring deal is probably very attractive to a lot of teams for the very same reason it was attractive to Joe D. If a team looking to rebuild throws a can’t-miss offer at Dumars, he’d probably listen.
3. Do nothing. And trust that the ship rights itself. Believe that the trio of Iverson, Hamilton and ‘Sheed will get it together and playing up to their potential. If not, you let A.I. walk at the end of the season and start gearing up to make a run at LeBron, Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade.