|ESPN.com: TrueHoop||[Print without images]|
As I look around the league, and think about the draft, and all those general managers who are out there scheming right now, I keep coming back to the same question: might those Pistons really be available? It has a million implications. For instance, if beating the Spurs is the riddle everyone's trying to solve, Richard "mid-range" Hamilton could sure be handy. (Imagine Rip alongside Steve Nash!)
Likewise, if slowing Tim Duncan is the key, Rasheed Wallace has a pretty good track record, and he can stretch the defense.
Then there are all those teams that could use a point guard. Is Chauncey Billups really a possibility?
And ... perish the thought ... is it even worth the call for my Blazers to offer something for Tayshaun Prince? Portland needs perimeter defense, veteran poise, and outside shooting, from a three who is not a ball hog. Prince is the king of all that. Should I even dare to let myself consider it a possibility? My hunch is no, but I can't stop thinking about it.
I emailed Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys to take his temperature. Would Joe Dumars really consider blowing up a team that was two games from the NBA Finals? This is his response:
Short answer: I don't know if he will, but I don't think he's scared to.
Long answer: I've heard him mention how he was still playing the last time the Pistons were in this situation, and how quickly the Pistons went from winning the title in '90 to completely falling out of relevance within two years. The Cavs are in the Finals this year and the Bulls are only going to get better -- if each of those two teams improve by just two wins in the regular season next year and the Pistons slip by two wins, Detroit is suddenly a third-place team within their division and a No. 5 seed at best in the East. For all the talk about how weak the East is, the Central Division is the balls.
Plus, there's precedent for Dumars making a bold move: Jerry Stackhouse was the franchise player in '02 (and the league's second-leading scorer in '01) and Dumars wasn't scared to pull the trigger for the (relatively) unheralded Rip Hamilton. Granted, that a was a different situation, but it was unpopular and certainly a risk for a 50-win team.
If he does make a move, I have completely no idea who it will involve. A lot of fans assume Rasheed Wallace will be the first to go, but I'm not so sure. I could see Dumars making another Stackhouse-type move and trading Hamilton, since he's not viewed as a "flawed" player around the league and would probably bring back the most bang for the buck.
Another thing to consider is that the Pistons have two first-round picks -- I'm going to assume they use the first one (No. 15) on a point guard for the future who joins the rotation immediately, but that second pick (No. 27) probably won't be contributing next year at all, which means it could be included in a trade and not be missed.
Either way, the team *needs* to bring back Chauncey Billups, or at the very least get *something* out of him in a sign-and-trade. If that doesn't happen ... man, I don't want to think about it.