Tag Archives: Detroit Pistons

Pistons send Tony Mitchell to D-League

The Detroit Pistons have sent Tony Mitchell, a favorite of this blog, down to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Developmental League. Mitchell was selected by the Pistons in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft with the 37th overall pick out of the University of North Texas. Peyton Siva, another second round pick by Detroit, was also reassigned to the D-League with Mitchell.

Moving Mitchell to the D-League was an inevitability.  He appeared in only 10 games, totaling 37 minutes on the court. His per 36 minutes numbers of 10.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, one assist, one steal, 1.9 blocks, and 1.9 turnovers are promising. However, with Detroit’s frontcourt composed of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith, there are few minutes to be distributed to a 6’8″ rookie.

Mitchell should hone his skills in the D-League as he will see more playing time. Unfortunately, the move down could hurt his chances of appearing in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest during All Star Weekend. None of the participants have been named yet, but Mitchell’s dunking ability warrants notice and has appeared in various Vines throughout the season.

There is a dunk contest in the D-League but it doesn’t draw a large audience. The NBA’s dunk contest has been lackluster in recent years and needs revitalization. It needs Tony Mitchell.

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The Detroit Pistons: on the Cusp

Hope again (The Associated Press)

Hope again (The Associated Press)

Summer League brings with it a new sense of hope. It alleviates the summer doldrums that occur after the Finals have ended, the NBA Draft, and the start of training camps. This renewed feeling of enthusiasm is especially true for teams that have been mediocre or worse for a number of years. Perhaps the sense of renewal will never completely pan out in the long-term. However, for a time, it allows for a glimmer of what might be, new heights, and a new beginning.

The Detroit Pistons have not had a winning record since the 2007-08 season. Detroit’s fall from grace mirrored the fall of the city’s overall economic collapse, though basketball had nothing to do with the underlying issues that the city succumbed to. Nonetheless, as often is the case, sports teams are symbols of a city or region. They serve as an escape from the realities of everyday life. For Detroit, though, the Pistons are not an escape. The team and city have been through so much since the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 2004 that it is a distant memory. With Summer League in full swing now, the Pistons, and their fans, may actually have something to look forward to.

With the eighth pick in this summer’s Draft, the Pistons selected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a guard out of Georgia. Caldwell-Pope’s best asset is his ability to pull up and make pump shots. With the frontcourt duo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe clogging the middle and drawing double-teams, Caldwell-Pope’s opportunities, should he be on the court with one or the other, to get open looks should be frequent.

In the second round, Detroit selected North Texas’ Tony Mitchell. If ever there was a pure athlete, Mitchell is it. (I wrote about him in detail here.) What he brings to the table is an NBA body combined with phenomenal leaping ability. He is also adept at finishing at, but more than likely above, the rim as well as blocking shots.

The Piston’s also selected point guard Peyton Siva, from Louisville, in the second round. Silva is more of a defender than offensive threat, however he manages the pick-and-roll well. This skill will come in handy with the aforementioned frontcourt players as well as Mitchell. Of course, as with all rookies, his skills will only be in service if he sees playing time. Nonetheless, the Pistons hauled a promising young group of players in this year’s Draft.

Perhaps, though, the biggest addition to the Detroit roster is the free agent signing of Josh Smith. Smith has proven time and again that he has the capability of playing at an extremely high level and was one of the most coveted free agents this summer. The Pistons now have a star to build around and many pieces are already in place. However, Smith is not the most refined player. He is prone to taking jumpshots all to often, as shown here. Where Smith is most efficient and effective is within nine feet of the basket. Therefore, his role in Detroit is a tricky one to figure out.

With Monroe likely remaining as the starting power forward, Smith will move into the small forward spot. Drummond and Monroe do much of the heavy lifting inside. With his propensity to take so many ill-advised and low percentage jumpers, Smith could once again drift from the paint with it occupied. If this happens, it could turn out poorly for the Pistons. It will take a degree of ingenuity on the part of new Head Coach Maurice Cheeks to open up lanes and allow Smith to get his shots on the inside.

A solid model to study would be that of last year’s Denver Nuggets. That team took the vast majority of their shots, 55.74 percent, within eight feet of the basket. With so many big men, Mitchell included, who can score well inside, it would behoove Detroit to attempt something similar.

There are still a lot of uncertainties with the Pistons. It is a new new for all respects. Yet, there is reason to believe that this could be the start of Detroit’s turnaround. They had a solid draft and brought in a big-name All Star. Not only that, but a member of Detroit’s last championship team, the beloved Rasheed Wallace, has joined Cheeks’ coaching staff as an assistant. That in and of itself should be reason to take interest in this year’s team.

Summer League has a funny way of leading to the “what-ifs” of the season to come. Detroit’s team has shown promise, especially the play of Drummond. While nothing may pan out, we can all  hope for the best. Right now, that is all Detroit has but at least  the pieces are there to make things interesting until opening day. And that is the joy of Summer League.

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NBA Lockout Day 9: Beef Stew

The stew is served

Nine days into the lockout and a big heaping bowl of Beef Stew will cure what ails you. Now, if only the teams and players would take a helping from the Crock pot we would all be in better shape. Oh well, on with the Stew…

Yao Calling it Quits

As the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on Friday morning it ushered in a new era in NASA’s history as it will be the last mission flown by the shuttle. Mission control in Houston, as it has done many times before, took over control from the Kennedy Space Center as the shuttle and its rockets climbed into the sky. It was a bittersweet moment as the future of American space travel now has questions surrounding it. On the same day, though not as grand in its scope as human exploration beyond Earth, the city of Houston was met with more bittersweet news.

Yao Ming, the seven-foot six-inch center for the Houston Rockets announced that he planned to retire. The Rockets spend a small fortune acquiring the rights to Yao from the Chinese government and selected him with the number one overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.

His career will be noted for moments of greatness mixed with nagging injuries that limited and eventually sidelined his career. Yao is one of only two players over seven feet tall to have averaged 20 points and ten rebounds for a season. The other is Shaquille O’Neal, who also retired this summer.

Here at the Beef we were never avid supporters of Yao as we have taken the stance that the breed of player which he was is a dead position in the league. However, his contributions cannot be dismissed. With Yao came the global marketing of the NBA. Yes, there were foreign players before him but none of them had the appeal and marketability that he had. He is responsible for the boom in popularity the league has seen in China over recent years. If it was not for Yao would NBA players regularly sign with Chinese clubs as their NBA careers are dwindling? Would there be talk of a barnstorming tour of China if the lockout persists? No. Yao opened the doors and the NBA is better for it.

Turkey on Rye

With Deron Williams planning to suit-up for Besiktas, Allen Iverson‘s former team, the interest in Turkey has never been stronger especially after the team announced that it would pursue Kobe Bryant as well. There is just one problem though, how does a lower tier Euroleague team have the sway, and by sway I mean money, to lure NBA talent to play for them? Williams’ one-year deal is said to be worth $5 million. However, the team has not released any numbers in terms of compensation. In Williams’ case, Besiktas’ coach Ergin Ataman said that the team’s president, Yildirim Demiroren, would find a sponsor to provide his salary.

When and if Williams touches down in Turkey he will likely not be the only NBA player on his team. Zaza Pachulia, of the Atlanta Hawks, has also structured a deal to play with Besiktas is the lockout cuts into the NBA season. It is always nice to see a friendly face in a foreign country.

Sonny Boy

Sonny Weems was one of the first players to show interest and then actually sign a contract to play overseas when the lockout started. However, it was not announced where he would sign although he already had a one year contract that did not have an opt-out clause. Now we know where he will play. Weems will play in Lithuania next season for Zalgiris Kaunas, the same team that Omar Samhan plays for.

Are they News Worthy?

While players around the league seem to be leaping at the opportunity to play overseas, one player has a different stance. Jonas Jerebko of the Detroit Pistons, though being a Swedish national, has no intentions of pursuing playing time in Europe or elsewhere. He wants to remain in the NBA. Detroit has offered him a qualifying offer of $1 million and will be able to match any offer he receives from other teams, when the lockout is over, as he is a free agent.

Where as Jerebko wishes to remain in the NBA, his teammate DaJuan Summers had different plans. Summers inked a two-year deal to play in Italy when the Pistons did not extend a qualifying offer to him earlier this summer.

Another player looking to play overseas is Adam Morrison. Yes, the same Adam Morrison who was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats and eventually wore a suit on route to a ring with the Lakers. He did not play in the NBA last season and is looking to take his career elsewhere. Morrison may not have to look across oceans for playing time, however.

Canada’s newest basketball league, the National Basketball League of Canada, is looking to attracted minimum level salary NBA players to join their ranks during the lockout. Chances are this would be appealing to some current NBA players who are currently weighing their options and are not excited about the possibility of playing outside of North America. One has to imagine that the choice to play in Canada would be relatively safe as well, unless they somehow gain the following of the Vancouver Canucks and fail their fanbase horribly.

Can’t do no Wrong

After making it official that Frank Vogel would be the team’s full-time head coach, the Indiana Pacers have hired former Portland trail Blazers’ general manager Kevin Pritchard. He has been brought in a director of player personnel. Pritchard’s duties will include that of scouting and helping the team make decisions in free agency, whenever it eventually takes place. He is best known for turning around the franchise in Portland which was struggling after its “Jailblazer” days in the early part of the millenium.

While most teams have been relatively quiet during the lockout and watching their players sign contracts to play overseas, the Pacers have been making all the right moves to better themselves as an organization. This is a team on the rise in the league and it would not be surprising if they are mentioned as an elite team in the Eastern Conference in the coming years as their personnel and front office decisions have been on-point thus far this summer.

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The Detroit Pistons have finally been sold

In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the Pistons.

So time ago we reported that the Detroit Pistons were more than likely going to be sold to the Little Caesar’s pizza magnate, who also owns the Red Wings and Tigers, Mike Ilitch. Well, it looks like everyone jumped the gun back in October when the deal was supposed to be finalized within 30 days. It never was. Instead, it looks as though the team will be sold to Tom Gores. This new deal is expected to be finalized by June 30 pending league approval.

Gores, a billionaire financier with a knack for dressing like Tony Montana, will purchase the team from current owner Karen Davidson. Davidson has been looking to sell the Pistons since January of 2010. She became the majority share holder in the team after her husband Bill Davidson passed away in 2009.

Along with the Pistons, Gores will also receive in the sale The Palace at Auburn Hills, DTE Energy Music Theatre, and the operating rights to Meadow Brook Music Festival ClickOnDetroit.com is reporting.

Gores is reportedly worth $2.4 billion, and though the exact numbers of the sale have not been released Forbes estimates the cost of the Pistons at $360 million. Mere pocket change.

Once the sale is completed, Gores will find himself the proud owner of one of the more poorly put together teams in the Association. Detroit is but a shell of its former playoff and championship self. At present, the team is loaded with dysfunction from both the head coach and the players.Add to that the bloated contracts of under performing and under achieving players and you have a recipe for the lottery.

Despite all the problems that the Pistons have, the new ownership looks content to keep Joe Dumars as president of the team according to Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press. As for coach John Kuester, well, it looks as though his time in Detroit will be coming to a close. Hey, at least players cannot boycott him if he is not coaching anywhere.

Gores has undoubtedly bought his way into a mess. The clean up will not be easy. Do not let the euphoria of ridding Davidson as the owner cloud the future of this team. It will be a long road to the top again as the Eastern Conference continues to see marked improvement. Gores must prove that he is willing to spend money to improve the quality of professional basketball in Detroit. If not then he, along with Eminem and Chrysler, will just keep trying to pull wool over our eyes.

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Player Protest: Imported from Detroit

Where is everybody?

Do not let Eminem fool you. Detroit still sucks. Their basketball team is no better. According to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, five players decided to protest the team’s practice today and did not attend.

Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox did not show up for practice along with Ben Wallace, who has been dealing with a family related issue for several weeks. Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey also missed the shoot around and showed up as it was ending. They apparently missed the bus.

According to the report, McGrady missed the shoot around with a headache, Prince has a stomach flu, and Wilcox overslept with Hamilton missing the bus all together. He should have caught a ride with Daye and Stuckey. Better late than never, right, Rip?

These player protests have come to a head one day after the NBA trade deadline has come and gone. Detroit made no moves to relocate their various disgruntled players. Obviously, the players did not take kindly to the Pistons standing pat.

So now it seems the atmosphere of Egypt (or is Libya more en vogue now?) has taken hold of the lowly Pistons. This holdout was as much a protest against the team’s lack of movement yesterday as it was a universal condemnation of their head coach, John Kuester.

Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Greg Monroe, and DaJuan Summers were the only players present at the shoot around. Jonas Jerebko also attended but was undergoing rehabilitation therapy after surgery on his right Achilles.

Kuester stated, “We have some things … some excuses, not excuses, absences because of headaches and stuff like that. We’ll go with this group right now.” The group he is referring to is the players who showed up for practice.

If he follows up on his threat to only play those who showed up that would mean that the Pistons will only field six players Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Congratulations, Sixers, on your impending 29th victory!

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UPDATE: Nets Still Pursuing Carmelo Anthony Despite Snags

Snooki's new neighbors?

In our previous post we broke down the basics of the potential three team trade between the Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, and Detroit Pistons. This trade, if it goes through at any point, would fulfill the wishes of the Nets and their owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, in their quest to acquire Carmelo Anthony.

The deal would also have the likes of Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton moving to the Nets while the Pistons would receive Johan Petro and Troy Murphy, who has an expiring contract and has ben out of favor in Head Coach Avery Johnson’s system. New Jersey will also give Detroit a draft pick for taking Petro yet it has not been determined whether it will be a first or second round pick. (UPDATE: The pick that New Jersey will send to Detroit will be a second round pick.) Denver would take from New Jersey a heap of players including rookie Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow (who is presently sidelined with a strained right hamstring), Quinton Ross, Ben Uzoh, and Stephen Graham. Talks have been advancing over the weekend with many speculating that the trade is close to a done deal. However, both Anthony and Billups played in the Sunday night game against New Orleans.

A further snag arose, Detroit had been hesitant to be included in the deal, when the Nuggets began insisting that the Nets take Al Harrington as part of the deal. New Jersey does not look favorably on bringing in Harrington and his contract. He signed a five-year deal with the Nuggets worth $33 million during the summer in which only 50 percent of the final two years are guaranteed. The Nets would be on the books for four years and $28 million if they accepted Harrington in the deal which is something they want to avoid, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, as they are looking to be financially flexible in the future. (Read: Chris Paul becomes a free agent in 2012.)

Although Billups had early voiced his displeasure with the notion of being traded to the Nets he seems to have lessened his rhetoric as his $14 million dollar salary that is on the books for next season would be fully guaranteed in New Jersey. Yet, he would either want a buyout or a long-term contract extension, Broussard also reports. Billups is 34 years old and with the Nets hesitant, if not almost outright rejecting, about bringing in Harrington and his contract it would seem likely that Billups and the Nets would enter into buyout discussions once contract extension talks broke down.

All in all, in its present form, the trade sends much of the Nets roster (six players) to the Nuggets and in return they get Anthony, two aging guards in Billups and Hamilton, and possibly the undesirable contract of Harrington. Does this really make the Nets better? They are currently 10-27. Are the pieces they are brining in around Anthony going to make the team better? No. New Jersey is giving up its young talent to bring in Anthony and surrounding him with little more than bench players. Brook Lopez certainly is not a player who instills confidence in an organization. Hamilton is in steep decline and Billups will likely leave the Nets via buyout. If the Nets truly believe they can convince Anthony to sign an extension with the team then they need to do much more to improve their team and waiting around for Chris Paul to hit the free agency market is not the answer.

The Nuggets would be the clear winners of this trade as they would be acquiring some young and talented players who they could build around for the future. The multiple first round picks that Denver would receive from New Jersey certainly do not hurt the Nuggets either.

When Anthony was asked, after last night’s home loss to the Hornets, whether he thought he had played his last game as a Nugget he had this to say, “Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Just not at all.” He continued to down play all trade speculation FanHouse reports in what must make the Nets’ front office nervous. When asked if he thought he might be traded this week Anthony simply responded, “No.”

The Melodrama continues…

Update:

At around 11 AM Central Time, Broussard reported that the Nuggets also want the Nets to take Renaldo Balkman and potentially give up a first round pick. Clearly, Denver is doing everything it can to weigh the trade in their favor. It will be interesting to see if New Jersey will give in.

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Nets Keep Chasing Melo

Playing hard to get

Fans of the Detroit Pistons probably looked at the news headlines this week with a sense of what-could-have-been.

The Nets, in their ongoing quest to cast Carmelo Anthony as the newest member of the Jersey Shore attempted to lure Detroit into a three team deal. They sure are persistent in their quest to get Anthony and have stockpiled a number lucrative first round picks to entice anyone interested.

This potential deal would have united Anthony in New Jersey with Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton. Wait a minute, did Joe Dumars not have an opportunity to have these three players on the Pistons after the 2003 draft? The specter of Darko Milicic looms heavy over this potential trio.

The last thing the Pistons want to see is any incarnation of their draft faux pas become a reality. For the Melo-Billups-Rip joining to take place the Pistons would have had to take Johan Petro and give up a first-round draft pick. They then would take Troy Murphy and his expiring contract. Clearly, the Nets have only their own interests in mind when they talk to third parties. Detroit politely declined, if anything the fact that they are currently still for sale did not help matters either.

In the form in which it was crafted, the deal would have sent rookie Derrick Favors and Devin Harris to Denver along with at least two first round draft picks. Obviously the reunion of Avery Johnson with Harris is going swimmingly.

Hamilton is in the midst of his worst statistical season since his rookie year. He is averaging 13.5 points, a full 4.6 points fewer than last year which was injury shortened. His rebounding and assist numbers are also in decline. As for his shooting percentage, it sits at an abysmal .415. Why the Nets would want him is anybody’s guess.

A further complicating matter for New Jersey is the fact that Billups has come out and said, via his agent Andy Miller, that he has no intention of spending the remainder of his career in the Garden State and would like to continue playing in Denver. He doesn’t like the idea of being traded to the Nets and would insist on being bought out of his present contract, if traded, so that he could “survey the landscape and re-evaluate what he wants to do going forward.”

Billups, like Hamilton, has seen a drop in his numbers as well. However, his decline is not as dramatic as Hamilton’s. His field goal percentage is just as bad as Rip’s at .416 but his percentage from downtown is at a career high standing at .431.

The Pistons’ fans can take solace in the fact that a potential joining of what they could have had will likely not take place any time soon. They also have a ring to show for the team that Dumas put together. Anthony has not even tasted the Finals and honestly, who could envision Anthony chasing down Reggie Miller from behind and blocking his shot?

The Nets seem hell-bent on trading for Anthony by hook or by crook. They have the pieces that they think will be enough to get him there but have yet to find a third or fourth team who will buy into what they are selling. Outside of their picks, they do not have much to offer since they will be sending Harris and Favors to Denver in almost any trade scenario. It is surprising that Kris Humphreys has not been mentioned in any of the recent trade talks. He has to be a hot commodity right now because his close association with the magical luck that is Kim Kardashian but we have yet to see how that plays out…

Every team needs that kind of luck. If a trade for Anthony happens at any time this season, the Nets will certainly be players. They keep chasing waterfalls.

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