Posting could be light in the near future. I am now the proud parent of child #2. As crazy as it sounds, she will take precedent over the internet. Hopefully I can keep churning out boring ramblings on a semi-regular basis. Speaking of that…
Thankfully, Portland and Seattle were the big winners in the NBA Draft Lottery instead of, say, the Orlando Magic. I guess I should be thanking the Magic for that late season push to make the playoffs. That seems to be the only thing that stops the Magic from winning the lottery. It would have been awfully difficult to see Orlando win the lottery for the fourth time preventing the Pistons from having multiple first-round picks this year and, even more importantly, enabling the Magic to snatch-up Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. Portland and Seattle’s good fortune also guarantees that Oden and Durant will be wrecking havoc in the Western Conference and not the Eastern Conference.
Orlando winning the lottery again would have presented an interesting decision for the Magic. Would they have picked Oden to form one of the most promising front courts in NBA history or Kevin Durant to give them a phenomenal inside/outside attack? Dwight Howard isn’t the greatest offensive post presence when he isn’t throwing down killer dunks. The Magic will inevitably need to address the shortfalls that come from having a center that can’t play beyond seven feet. On the other hand, with Durant and Howard, teams would have to “pick their poison”. I’m glad I didn’t have to make that decision. If I had to choose right now, I’d go with Oden even with a guy like Howard in the fold. I don’t see him being a Sam Bowie-type player. Plus, “smalls” would come flocking to Orlando to play with those two.
The fallout from Portland and Seattle being the big winners in the lottery could have a sizeable effect on the Pistons if they so choose. I am guessing that Portland and Seattle are going to take Oden and Durant respectively. Portland would have Oden to team with Zach Randolph. The Blazers would immediately become a powerhouse team in the Western Conference. Randolph is one of the most underrated post players in the league. With the double-teams that Oden will command, Randolph is going to dominate the league for the next 5-10 years. Hopefully Portland likes that combination enough to avoid taking Durant. If they do, Seattle would take Durant. That is excellent for the Pistons in the sense that Seattle already has Rashard Lewis. They can’t afford to pay both. So Lewis will be looking for a new team this summer. Hopefully the Pistons can somehow take advantage of that situation. Lewis would be a perfect fit for the Pistons. He is an excellent three-point shooter at 6’10. He is a slightly less defensively-abled version of Rasheed Wallace. Although, I think Lewis is much more versatile offensively.
Orlando is supposedly interested in Lewis. The Magic would become one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference with that acquisition. The Pistons seemingly have a loaded front court but it’s important to remember that Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess are five-years older than Lewis and Chris Webber is six years older than Lewis. Wallace, McDyess, and Webber aren’t going to be impact players in Detroit for much longer than two years. In fact, it’s conceivable that none of those three will even be on the team in two years. The Pistons will be forced to make over the frontcourt in a hurry or risk their status as contenders in the Eastern Conference. Amir Johnson will hopefully be much further along in his development but the Pistons will need more than just Johnson to contend. I don’t believe the Pistons have the financial ability to sign Lewis so they would need to pursue a “sign and trade” with Seattle. An offer of Jason Maxiell, Nazr Mohammed, and the 15th and 27th picks in ’07 could garner interest. Even then, I’m not exactly sure if the Pistons would be able to fit Lewis under the cap. If they can, then pursuing Lewis should be a no-brainer. Once Wallace, McDyess, Dale Davis, and Chris Webber come off the books, the Pistons will be fine financially. On a side note, the Blazers apparently have interest in bringing in Lewis. An Oden/Randolph/Lewis frontcourt would be unstoppable. Since that mayhem would do most of its damage in the Western Conference, I wouldn’t mind seeing it happen.
Since a Lewis/Pistons relationship is likely just a silly dream, I would love to see the Pistons try to dangle their two first-round picks this season and possibly Jason Maxiell for a player of similar stature to Lewis over the next two summers. That won’t be easy. Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol will likely be available this summer but I’m not sure that the Pistons have enough ammunition or willingness to add to the payroll. Regardless of what the Pistons are able to do this summer (in the playoffs and in free agency), they need to start thinking about the future. They have some nice young players—Prince, Maxiell, Johnson, and Carlos Delfino—but none of those players are going to be frontcourt centerpieces. I am of the belief that two first round draft picks are much more valuable before the draft than after the draft. The draft is so unpredictable that you could end up with two “duds” very easily. If Dumars thinks he can find two gems with the 15th and 27th, then I have no problem with the Pistons keeping those picks.
The Pistons are going to have to make a move to bring in an impact player in the near future. They went from being the two-time defending NBA Champions in 1990 to 20-62 just three seasons later because the front office did not plan for the future. It took a decade for the team to rebound. There is no guarantee that free agents will come your way just because it happens to be a year when you have a bunch of money to spend. I’m hoping the Pistons aren’t planning on going for broke in free agency in the summer of ’09. If that’s their plan, then coming up empty will cripple the franchise similar to what happened following the Bad Boy era. Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Prince will keep the team relatively competitive but without a frontcourt similar to the one in Detroit right now, the Pistons will fall to the middle of the pack.