The Detroit Pistons have a win-now attitude even though they have a lot of young talent still developing. New owner, Tom Gores, has made it quite clear that he wants to at least make it to the playoffs this season and the job of Joe Dumars, the Pistons president of basketball operations, is most likely on the line. In an attempt to improve, the Pistons have looked at the possibility of trading for SF Rudy Gay of Toronto, PG Rajon Rando of Boston and/or PG Eric Bledsoe of the LA Clippers. With over $20 million in cap space, the Pistons decided to use a little of it by signing PF/SF Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks to a 4-year $54 million contract. Smith was arguably the third best free agent on the market behind C Dwight Howard and PG Chris Paul. Smith (6’9” – 225lbs.) averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals last season. The 27-year-old has tremendous athletic ability and plays on both ends of the court. By looking at his defensive statics and adding the fact that he can potentially guard four different positions, it’s easy to see how valuable he is defensively. The big problem with Smith is his shooting. The Pistons signed Smith to play the small forward position and be on the court at the same time as PF Greg Monroe and C Andre Drummond. But to effectively give those two big men enough room to work down low, you need shooters that can stretch the floor…Smith is not that type of player. He does like to shoot from long distance but not with any great accuracy (30.3% on 201 3-point attempts last season). There will be many times that Monroe or Drummond will be on the bench with foul trouble or just getting a rest, and the Pistons can slide Smith down to the power forward position, which is a more suited spot for him. The addition of Smith does make the Pistons more athletic, and that could be enough to push the Pistons into the playoffs.
The next move the Pistons made was re-signing PG Will Bynum (6’0” – 185lbs.) to a 2-year $5.75 million contract. The 30-year-old has been with the Pistons the past five seasons primarily as a backup point guard. Bynum had a career year last season averaging 9.8 points and 3.6 assists backing up Brandon Knight and Jose Calderon. With Calderon signing with Dallas, it became even more important for the Pistons to bring Bynum back to provide a little veteran leadership for third-year starting PG Knight.
Next the Pistons signed SF Luigi Datome (6’9” – 220lbs.) to a 2-year $3.75 million contract. The 25-year-old was the MVP of the Italian League last season, in which he averaged 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for Virtus Roma. With the Pistons in need of perimeter shooters, Datome is a nice addition as is considered to be the top European free agent and one of the best shooters in the Italian League- he shot 47% from the field (41% from 3-point land) and 92% from the free throw line. While not a great defender, Datome is a good player with good athleticism. He should give the Pistons a nice scoring option off the bench.
Finally, the Pistons brought a champion back to Motown. The Pistons have announced that they have signed PG Chauncey Billups (6’3” – 210lbs.) to a 2-year $5 million contract. Mr. Big Shot, as he was called during his 6-year stint with the Pistons (2002 – 2008), was traded at the start of the 2008 – 2009 season to Denver for SG Allen Iverson. The trade was made to provide more scoring through Iverson, but also to allow the Pistons to transition Rodney Stuckey into the starting role at point guard. The plan did not work out so well for the Pistons as Iverson averaged 17.4 points per game (down from the 27.7 points per game that he had been average for his career) and Stuckey never really developed into the point guard the Pistons were hoping for. Now back with the Pistons, the 36-year-old Billups will be looked upon to provide veteran leadership. Billups, who was always known more as a combo guard than a traditional point guard, might also be looked upon to help develop Knight, who is also being viewed more as a combo guard. Billups should be able to teach Knight how to better realize when to look for a teammate rather than trying to force something that could easily result in a turnover.
All in all, the Pistons hope that bringing in the energy and athleticism of Smith, veteran savvy of Bynum, the shooting ability of Datome, and leadership and ability of Billups will be enough to get them back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Add in the additions of Caldwell-Pope and Mitchell in the draft, and the Pistons have a nice core of young players to build the franchise around and good depth to make a run. (Photos from Google Images)