Joe Dumars apparently wasn’t kidding when he said that he was going to make every attempt to make a trade. He indicated this week that he has already talked to at least 10 teams and—in all discussions—he was talking about the best player on those teams. It shouldn’t be too hard to narrow down the list of teams he might have talked to. Some teams won’t trade their best player. Other teams don’t have anything the Pistons want. There is also another group of teams that can be eliminated. I have an inclination that Joe D isn’t going to move Rip; and if he does move Rip, it’s not going to be for another shooting guard. Rip isn’t flawless but there are too many flaws in the frontcourt and at point guard to focus on adding a shooting guard. This is just a hunch but I'm going to go with it. So, that also rules out teams whose best player is a shooting guard. If we eliminate the teams from those groups, we should have a pretty good idea of who Dumars talked to.
L.A. Lakers (Kobe)
San Antonio (Tim Duncan)
Orlando (Dwight Howard)
Miami (Dwyane Wade)
Portland (Greg Oden)
Not worth talking to and/or best player is SG
Seattle (Kevin Durant is probably untouchable and plays SG)
Chicago (No true stars)
New York (worst roster ever)
Milwaukee (Redd plays SG)
Philadelphia (Igoudala plays SG)
Indiana (Jermaine O’Neal makes too much)
Sacramento (Kevin Martin plays SG)
Washington (Gilbert Arenas opted-out and Jamison is a free agent)
The Likely Candidates
New Orleans (obviously not Chris Paul who is untouchable)
It would not surprise me if the above teams make up the majority of teams that Joe D has talked to. However, just because he may have talked to a team doesn’t mean that a deal is realistic. Most of these fourteen teams are unlikely trade partners for a variety of reasons.
Chris Bosh would be an ideal addition to give the Pistons a frontcourt presence but I don’t see Toronto being interested in what the Pistons can offer. They might be interested in a Billups/Wallace/Amir Johnson deal but Toronto is close to the cap which means Detroit would have to take T.J. Ford or Rasho Nesterovic. That would give Detroit zero cap room to go after a high-level free agent. The Pistons could boast a starting lineup of Rodney Stuckey, Rip, Tayshaun, Chris Bosh, and Antonio McDyess or Jason Maxiell. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I don’t think Toronto would be happy with Rasheed Wallace and Andrea Bargnani in the post. They are both allergic to the paint. So, a deal with Toronto is doubtful.
I doubt Joe D could put together an enticing-enough package to get Al Jefferson from Minnesota. Jefferson is turning into a dominating big-man and has a fairly reasonable contract. The Pistons would have to give up Rip, Rasheed Wallace, and Maxiell/Amir Johnson just to get into the discussion and—even then—I’m not sure Minnesota would have any interest in that. Even worse, the Pistons would have to take Antoine Walker’s awful contract to offset the $26 going to Minnesota. A deal here is highly unlikely.
Rudy Gay is turning into a star and still has three years remaining on his rookie contract. Memphis has a gazillion dollars in cap-room and could afford to take on one or two of Detroit’s bigger contracts. However, I’m not sure Rudy Gay is the answer. The Pistons would have to give up Tayshaun since they play the same position. They’d also have to give up Rasheed Wallace. Is that worth Gay? If the Pistons could sign Elton Brand, then maybe it is. Would Memphis want Tayshaun and Rasheed for Gay? Probably not.
Mark Cuban has a man-crush on Dirk Nowitzki. He wouldn’t trade him for Shaq straight-up back in ’04. Remember, Shaq was coming off four consecutive Finals appearances and three championships. I’m not saying it was the wrong move. I’m just saying Cuban values Dirk highly. So, I doubt Dirk is available. Plus, Dallas has Jason Kidd and Josh Howard which makes Chauncey and Tayshuan undesirable for the Mavs. The pieces really don’t match up well with Dallas.
Jerry Sloan would probably commit himself to a mental ward before agreeing to add Rasheed Wallace to his team. Carlos Boozer would be a good fit but I don’t think Utah has any interest in what the Pistons have to offer. Plus, they already have the equivalent of Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, and Rasheed Wallace in Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, and Carlos Boozer. I’m sure they like their threesome better.
Phoenix would have to be the dumbest franchise of all-time to trade Amare Stoudemire at this point. He is the only superstar-caliber player the Suns have who will be around in three years. Plus, he’s Amare-frickin’-Stoudemire. There were trade rumors last year involving Amare but that was when he and Shawn Marion weren’t getting along and—more importantly—before be bounced back from a knee injury with a 6th place finish in the MVP voting. The only hope here is that Steve Kerr continues to “go for it.” The problem from the Pistons’ end is that they would have to give up both Rasheed and Rip. This is one of the few scenarios in which Joe D might be willing to part with Rip. I suppose it’s possible that Phoenix would want Rasheed, Tayshaun, and Amir Johnson but that's wishful thinking. Any reasonable deal with Phoenix might be wishful thinking especially considering the way Phoenix tried to rip-off Detroit last year when they offered Shawn Marion for two starters and two First Round draft picks. Phoenix is way over the cap and isn’t interested in adding to the payroll. So, the Pistons would have to be willing to take Boris Diaw. That would eliminate any possibility of bringing in a big-name via free agency. The Pistons would be left with a starting lineup of Billups, Stuckey, Prince, Diaw, and Stoudemire. The Suns would be left with a starting lineup of Nash, Rip, Raja Bell, Rasheed, and Shaq. Who gets the better end of that deal? The Pistons would certainly look better long-term. Phoenix would look better short-term. A deal here is possible but unlikely.
The Clippers have one player the Pistons could badly use and that’s Elton Brand. Brand can opt-out of his contract this summer but I would be shocked if he did. He is in line to make $16 million next season which is probably more than teams are going to offer a guy just returning from a torn Achilles tendon. If he stays with the Clippers and has a productive ’08-’09, he will have a huge payday coming next year. So, the only way I see Brand in a Pistons uniform next season is via a sign-and-trade. Last week, I laid out a scenario in which the Pistons could send Billups and Rasheed to the Clippers for Brand and Brevin Knight. The only way I would make this trade is if the Pistons could sign someone like Gilbert Arenas via free agency.
Golden St’s best player is either Baron Davis or Monta Ellis. I like Baron Davis. He would be a much-needed upgrade over Billups. However, he makes too much money. Ellis is a free agent that Golden St. will likely re-sign and keep. He is a star-in-the-making. Golden St. has always needed a big-man and Rasheed might fit their style but without getting a competent big-man in return (since GS doesn’t have one), I don’t see how the Pistons could fill the void left in the frontcourt. Joe D might have made a call here but it becomes obvious pretty quickly that there isn’t much that can be done with the Warriors.
On one hand, the Carmelo-to-Detroit trade rumors make some sense. Carmelo is a young superstar who would provide the Pistons much-needed scoring. On the other hand, trading for Carmelo makes absolutely no sense. The Pistons would have to trade Rasheed and Chauncey at a minimum. Second, Carmelo and Prince play the same position. I wouldn’t be against trying a lineup with them alternating at the three and four-spots but I’m not sure it’s a gamble that Joe D would be willing to take. Both would clearly be overmatched by the better 4s in the league. So, Detroit would have to give up Rasheed, Chauncey, and Tayshuan which is too much for Carmelo. The trade proposed by Woody Paige of the Denver columnist of Carmelo, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, and Chucky Atkins for Rasheed, Chauncey, Tayshaun and a First-Round draft pick probably sounds good to him but, to me, it sounds like the Pistons would just become the Denver Nuggets. Ask the people of Denver how that worked out for them this year. Carmelo wouldn’t be a bad fit but I don’t see how he gets to Detroit. There are too many obstacles. Plus, he’s not easy to root for.
If I were Joe D, I would be calling New Orleans everyday. I would offer Rasheed, Tayshaun, Amir Johnson, and a First-Round draft pick for David West and Peja Stojakovic (Peja would be need to off-set salary-differences plus he’s good). I’m not sure if New Orleans would have any interest in that deal but it’s worth a try. West is a beast. He is probably the best inside/outside post-player in the NBA right now. Plus, his salary is a joke. The Pistons would be left with a starting lineup of Billups, Rip, Peja, West, and mid-level player like Antonio McDyess. New Orleans would be left with a starting lineup of Chris Paul, Morris Peterson, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Tyson Chandler. New Orleans would be the best defensive team in the NBA. Plus, it would allow them to shed Peja’s hefty contract. My guess is New Orleans is more than happy with their current roster and they would rebuff this sort of offer from the Pistons.
The Hawks have a number of valuable pieces but I’m not sure the Pistons have anything the Hawks are looking for. Josh Smith is a superstar in the making but, again, I’m not sure the Pistons could offer something the Hawks would be interested in. In the next year or two, I expect the Hawks to package two or three of their assets for a superstar. They can put together some of the best trade offers in the league.
You’re first inclination when you see “Houston” is probably Tracy McGrady. He makes way too much money for the Pistons to take on his contract. I’m thinking more about Yao Ming. I realize there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Yao is constantly injured. He hasn’t played more than 57 games in each of the last three seasons. Houston probably puts a premium on Yao’s value because he’s one of the most marketable players in the NBA. So, I’m not even sure Houston would deal him. However, when healthy, Yao is a very formidable player. His sheer size makes it difficult for the opposition to have success in the post. He is a good shooter and a very good free-throw shooter. Most importantly, Yao lives in the post. He doesn’t coast like Rasheed. The numbers for a Yao trade would match-up pretty well. The Pistons could offer Rasheed, Billups, and a First Round draft pick for Yao and Bobby Jackson. I’m not sure how happy Houston would be with that deal but I’m pretty sure that would make the Rockets a better basketball team. Billups, McGrady, Battier, Luis Scola, and Rasheed Wallace would be a pretty formidable lineup. The Pistons would be left with Stuckey, Rip, Tayshaun, McDyess/Amir Johnson and Yao. They’d also have a ton of cap room to pursue a free agent in ’09. The Pistons would all of a sudden be an up-and-coming team.
A trade proposed by ESPN's Chad Ford would be somewhat interesting. He suggests the Pistons should trade Rasheed and Tayshuan for Richard Jefferson, Nenad Krstic, and the #10 pick in the draft. The Pistons would be left with Billups, Rip, Jefferson, Krstic, and McDyess/Maxiell. The Pistons would be able to hold on to Stuckey, Maxiell, and Amir Johnson. They would also be in great shape cap-wise. The Nets would sure-up substantial cap-room for next year when Rasheed would come off the books. Ford suggests that the Nets would like to make a deal like this to get into the Lebron sweepstakes in 2010. There is no way LeBron is going to sign with the Nets no matter how much money they have. The Pistons would get the better end of this deal. I don't see New Jersey being interested.
Ford proposes another trade with Charlotte that doesn't sound as good as the New Jersey-trade. He suggests the Pistons should ship Rasheed and Tayshaun for Gerald Wallace, Adam Morrison, Sean May, and the #9 pick in the draft. Morrison and May would come off the books after this season. They are essentially throw-ins. Would you rather have Gerald Wallace and the #9 pick or Richard Jefferson, Nenad Krstic (who is a formidable frontcourt player) and the #10 pick? The NJ deal would be my preference but--if NJ rebuffs that offer as I expect--this deal does have some appeal. The Pistons would be barren in the frontcourt for next season but would be in pretty good shape talent-wise and cap-wise for the long-term. The only thing that makes me worry about a deal with NJ or Charlotte is that the Pistons would be giving up their two best defensive players in Tayshaun and Rasheed. Gerald Wallace and Richard Jefferson are decent defenders but the Pistons would initially see a huge dropoff in their post-defense. It's worth a shot, though, since what they had before wasn't working.