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Enjolras

Looking Ahead to 2003 Part II

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Read Part I

Draft outlook:

I have discovered that we still owe a first round pick to the Atlanta Hawks to complete the Stacy Augmon trade of years ago. However it is our option and this isn't the year to give it up - eventhough it is a relatively late pick. Furthermore there is an extremely outside chance that we could land the Memphis Grizzlie pick this season, however three lottery teams would have to jump infront of the 3 worst teams in order to garner us the 6th overall pick, - its not going to happen.

However next season, Memphis only has the 1st overall pick protected, so it is more than likely ours. Seeing how most of the 1 or 2 yr college players struggled this season, whomever Memphis selects this season is not going to make them markedly better- unless they get one of the top two picks(Jason Williams or Yao Ming). The Grizzlies do have a lot of cap room, since Big Country Reeves had to retire, but I don't feel they could lure any top notch talent to their sad sack team unless they overpay, so we should get a lottery pick next season. And assuming that we will still be as good next season, which is never a given in the East, it is then I would give Atlanta our pick.

We have the 23rd pick this season, and it isn't as cut and dry as to what we will be looking for from our pick, eventhough center and PG are still our most glaring holes. Picking as low as 23, there will not be any centers worth drafting at this point, however the PG talent will still be strong and intreguing. The emergence of Chucky Atkins allows us to draft potential and not for instant gratification with this pick. Early mock drafts have us selecting Michigan States Marcus Taylor, and I believe we could do a lot worse than taking the home grown product. He might not be ready for the pro game, but he has a much higher ceiling than other PG's who might be more ready to contribute next season.

Free Agency:

Believe it or not, but we have the second lowest payroll in the NBA this season, only ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers. However Jerry Stackhouse and Ben Wallace are in for big raises, probably as soon as this off season. Still since they are our own players I'm not sure they will effect our cap space and our ability to sign outsdie talent. There is talent in this years free-agent class as Rasheed Wallace and Rashard Lewis are free and Bonzi Wells, Raef Lafrentz, Mike Bibby all have team options to become free. Certain publications have Michael Olowkandi possibly intreguing Joe Dumars and the Pistons Brain Trust should he be made available, but I think Dumars is way to smart for that. The 2003 Free Agents are the bumper crop with Jason Kidd, Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess, Jermaine O'Neal, Gary Payton and Darryll Armstorng are all free to go to the highest bidder, and since Cliff Robinson and Jon Barry will be free as well we should have tremendous cap space, and as long as we remain competitive, we should have an excellent chance to land one of the top prizes. There isn't a good reason to give up our chance the next summer by signing a marginaly free agent this season. We will be adding Mehmet Okur and Rodney White, and along with a veteran PG should be enough to keep us competitive and in the play-offs next season. In the 2002-2003 off season is going to be a very important one as we should be able to plug our two biggest holes - whatever they are at the time. One with the lottery pick, and the other through free agency.

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Nice work Enjolras. One of the guys I am hoping the Pistons give a look-see to is Lamar Odom. I'm not exactly sure where he'd play, or why the Pistons would want him, but coming out of college he was the most polished player I had seen in a long time. I have said before, him and Rasheed Wallace are the two most fundamentally sound big men in the game today, and I would love to see what Odom could do at the point guard spot. He can play it, he can play ANY position on the floor, and that includes point guard. He is very heady, makes the pass when needed. I am not saying he could be Magic Johnson, but he is of the same mold. One more strike on drug charges though and I think he's out of the league. I know I am bringing this name out of mid-air, but I have always like this guy, I HOPE the Pistons don't go after the Kandy-Man, that would be a huge mistake. I would like to see Stack go to the three and insert Barry into the starting lineup as the shooting guard. Either that or keep Stack at the two and have Corliss in the small forward spot. One of those guys needs to be starting. Sorry, I don't care what the coaches say, Michael Curry brings nothing to the table. Get him out of there please.

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Lamar Odom could be included in the free agent class of 2003, but its the Clippers option. You would think the Clip would lock the guy up long term, but with QRich, Brand, Dooling and Darius Miles all team option free agents that same time, they might have other problems to deal with. Furthermore the Clip are not to enamored with Lamar Odom and there has been rumblings that he will be dealt in the off season to Miami for Zo Mourning. Pat Riley loves the guy's game and the Clip need veteran leadership to straighten out the kids in LA. Mourning, Brand and Miles in the front court with QRich and MacInnis bring up the back might be the makings of another dynasty team from LA.

No doubt Lamar Odom is a superb talent, but he has a lot of maturing to do, and I don't see him as a fit in the team first approach that the Pistons have embraced. He definitley would put to rest the Pistons need for size at the point, and would create huge match-up problems. And playing on a veteran team might straighten out his off the court antics as well. I would make a play for him if he was a free agent, but I wouldn't give up a Ben Wallace to get him.

Jon Barry has too many holes in his game to be a full time starter in the NBA. You aren't the first person who would like to see him start either, but after so many years in the league as a back-up there is definitely a reason why he is on the bench. Similarly Corliss Williamson is best left on the bench as well, and eventhough he could be an effective starter, he is better optimized coming off the bench.

Michael Curry is a "starter" in name only. Sure he does in fact start the game, but there is a reason why Wiliamson is the 6th man of the year. Curry helps set the defensive tone and is an important stopper when on the floor - which is needed since we rely amlost totally on defense to win us games. I look for his role to be reduced next season with Rodney White getting some PT, but he will make White earn the playing time each and every practice - which will make a better player in the long run.

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Enjolras,

That was really informative! The one thing I would say about your ideas of who will stay and who will go is that I think it's easy to say "stay" with the guys you have staying. If we stick with the status quo we will not progress.

There will have to be some hard decisions and I'd be shocked if all nine guys you named ended up staying. If we really want to be at the same level as the top teams in the Western Conference (thus having a great shot at an NBA title) we can't remain with the status quo. This will be an interesting postseason for Joey D. Now that he has us to a level none of us expected at least for another year, he now has to make the even more demanding moves - taking us from an outside shot at a title (at best) to a serious contender. That means making some moves that are risky. If we stay with the status quo I think that would be a big mistake.

Curry is an interesting guy. I don't know what you think but I thought he showed more offensive explosiveness off the bench during his first tenure here. He had a really good quick first step and with the starting five he seems to have lost it. Of course, that's not his role with the starting five so maybe that has something to do with it.

At the season's start I would've been the first to say a good PG was our biggest concern. Right now I think it's getting a low post threat on offense that doesn't have to dominate but at least open the perimeter for the rest of the starting five. Obviously a penetrating PG could help with this too, but I think we still need more beef underneath.

Rebracca - I thought he started the season fantastic! Then he started to weaken during the year. While he was starting he heated up again, but he still hasn't been the player I thought he'd be when I first saw him play early in the year. For a big guy, he plays about three inches smaller and 30 pounds lighter than he really is. I'd like to see him be a physical presence but not including his fouls he really hasn't brought that up to this point. I think he will be back, but this offseason will be an interesting one for him in terms of development.

Chucky is another tough decision. His game really developed at the season's end (last two months particularly). Do we really think he's the player we saw the last two months or more like the player we saw the majority of the season. It's been a blast watching him progress as this year's gone on. However, I admit there are some reservations in me how much of his recent play is a "hot streak" or how much of it is real. I really don't know. I can't wait to see what Joey D's assessment ends up being.

Enjolras, I'd love to see your input here.

GO PISTONS!

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This is going to be a very telling off-season for Joe Dumars and Piston Brain Trust. First of all, many GM's are going to think long and hard when dealing with Mr. Dumars because of all the acclaim he is getting as an executive. Joe Dumars has had the midas touch as GM(Even drafting Mateen Cleaves worked out in the end), and many GM's are going to deal with him more carefully now. Furthermore, not to take anything away from Dumars, but the teams were looking to cut salary when they contacted the Pistons, and they know they weren't getting equal value in return for the players they were giving up.

I agree that it is easy to say that this team will return pretty much intact next season - but that is what I believe will happen. The Pistons system will not allow them to bring in just any talent, they need to get players who are willing to put the team first. I believe that we will be an improved team next season, as Mehmet Okur and Rodney White will be ready to contribute, and the returning players will already know the system and know what it takes to win night in and night out. With that being said, I also believe that the Pistons will have a worse record that the 50 wins this season(Probably around 44 wins). They are not going to surprise too many teams next season and the opposition will come to play game in and game out.

Our bench depth has been the real key to our success this season, and we could deal from this depth, but I don't see any player that we could aquire for this talent making us a better team. The players on our bench understand and accept their roles, as do the starters - and messing with the overall chemistry could be a very big mistake. One area I definitely think the Pistons have to address is another low post player that can help Ben Wallace with the rebounds.

I don't believe we have the talent to give up that could garner us a player that would put us in contention for the title.

Zeljko Rebraca has a ton of talent, but the long NBA season has wore him down. Compounding his "dead legs" was frustration that the refs weren't giving him any room to work with. Like any rookie he'd get quick fouls called on him, and the refs would seemingly swallow their whistle when he was looking for a foul call. Remember that this season he had to get acclaimated to the NBA style, and I believe he will only come back better and stronger next season. There is a case to be made that there is a difference between the NBA style and International style when it comes to the play of its centers. Rebraca is a work in progress, but at the very least he was a bargain when we gave up a second round pick to get him and he is a bargain at $3M/season. Next season is going to show us exactly what we have in Rebraca, and if we feel it isn't enough we can always include him in a sign and trade deal when we make a splash in the free agent market, or in the worst case scenario release him. Rebraca was hard pressed to play in the NBA, the Piston Brain Trust signed him to a 1 yr deal, with 2 accompanying team option years - all at $3M annually.

I don't believe Dumars will make a splash on the free agant market this season, unless he feels he can get a deal. Many teams might be penny pinching for the following free agent class, so deals might be had. We don't have the cap space this off-season, but we should have almost $12M under the cap at the end of 2003- enough to get a superstar that would put us in contention along with the west.

Something that did curb my enthusiasm was the report that Jerry West is going to take over the operation of the Memphis Grizzlies. This is the one man who could really screw us over with our pending first round DP. However it could also be a blessing in disguise as he might tear apart the team and start from scratch with "his" players and "his" coaches. He does have building blocks in place though with Battier, Gasol, Dickerson, Swift and Jason Williams, eventhough I expect the latter to be trade bait. And he is going to get a solid player in the draft, depending on where he picks(probably top 4) and get one of Jason Williams, Yao Ming, Wagner, Godden , Hilario and QWoods.

Michael Curry is an offensive black hole in his second tenure, but I think he sacrifices his offense to make sure he is always where he should be on defense. He knows and accepts his role and does what it takes to win ball games.

Chucky Atkins is probably more suited to come off the bench, and in a perfect world he would be sitting there with the rest of the Alternatorz. He is undersized and thus can't play against the bigger PGs of the new NBA, but he has the talent to carry us to wins when he is hot. We could do a lot worse than Chucky at our PG, and in the very least he doesn't lose us any games.

I believe Joe Dumars will not go out looking to deal this off-season, other than tweaking the last few spots on our bench. However if another GM wants to make him an offer he can't refuse Dumars will certainly pull the trigger. We still have holes at PG and C, but they are not as glaring as they were at the beginning of the season.

In Joe we trust.

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I think Dumars has done a solid job. His choice of coach was a good one, very solid. Him getting Wallace and Atkins from the Magic in exchange for Hill was great. He ripped off Phoenix and Toronto getting Robinson and Williamson for peanuts. Jon Barry was a good move, though I wish he hadn't traded Mateen, who is currently getting no playing time with Jackson and Bibby ahead of him. Still, we have glaring holes that he refuses to address. We need a center. No, a real center. No Rebraca, we need a guy who's more physical. Rebraca has power forward written all over him, and looks overmatched against the bigger centers. People think because he is seven feet tall that it automatically makes him a center. Well, Garnett is, so is Dirk Nowitzki. They don't play the center position, and neither should Rebraca. Robinson as a stop-gap center is fine in the Eastern Conference, but you're not going anywhere with him there permanently. Small Forward is another glaring hole. Sorry, Michael Curry just doesn't cut it. The backcourt, I like Chucky, he can stay at the point for all I care, and Stack is solid as always. I understand the point about Barry coming off the bench, but Williamson, sorry, that guy should be in the starting lineup. I am pleased with this team but I am also realistic to know that we've been ignoring the same problems for ten years now and it doesn't appear they'll be rectified anytime soon.

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Originally posted by Evenings with Ernie

I think Dumars has done a solid job.

Didn't you think Dumars was a bum before this season? I kind of remember you not liking him after last season.

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Erine, I agree that Rebraca is better suited for the PF position, and eventhough it is a very limited sample of what Rebraca can do from the spot, he did start two games there when Ben Wallace went down.

April 8th against Atlanta in 34 minutes he shot 7-9 for 18 pts, 7 blocks and 13 rebounds.

April 10th versus Chicago in 34 minutes he shot 9-13 for 24 points with 4 blocks and 3 rebounds.

The international game is much less physical, and Rebraca was out muscled by the true centers all season, but I believe if he can put on some weight in the off-season he can be an effective center. Furthermore there will be much less of a market for him as a PF then if he is listed as a center, and he isn't going to start or get serious minutes ahead of Ben Wallace, so we either have to trade him or make him into an NBA center.

This off-season and 2003 season is going to be very telling in the career of Zeljko Rebraca. Either he'll become a true center, while not dominant, effective solidly positioning himself among the ranks of the second tier of centers in the NBA or he will be a player without a position on our Roster and trade bait to a team looking for a back-up PF.

Get him in the gym with Ben Wallace over the summer. Wallace could learn a thing or two from Rebraca on the offensive side of the ball and Rebraca could learn a lot from Big Ben on rebounding, blocking shots and positioning. Rebraca needs to put on about 20 lbs of muscle in the off-season and really strengthen his legs to be an effective center in the NBA. And judging by his frame, I'm not exactly sure he could do that.

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What about ROdney White?

I didn't read Part I, in case you mentioned it there.

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You're absolutely right WebGuy, I was pretty much sour on the moves Dumars had made. I think for this season, the moves were great, but I said then and I'll say again we'll have to start over again in another year or two because some of these guys are going to be applying for their AARP card rather soon. But yes my opinion of him has changed. I also thought Ben Wallace was a stiff. I was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off there, but it wouldn't hurt to develop some kind of low post game either. I still like Cardinal's game as well.

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It's been awhile since I've been here (actually the last time I was was when I made that past post above) so I'm reading everything now in quite awhile.

I will remain with my Rebraca thoughts after watching the first two games of the playoffs. The games are more physical than ever and he's really the only true disapointment on the team thus far into the first two games of the playoffs. He's really been lost.

The length of the season maybe a problem and he definitely deserves a year to adjust but right now I'd have to say I'm a little disapointed with his performance, especially after how he started the season. He hasn't done anything to adjust his game since the NBA adjusted to him.

I am going against the grade. I don't think he'd be a very good power forward. He isn't quick enough. In fact he's very deliberate, too deliberate. That's one thing he needs to work on. And then to see him go against a quicker man at the 4 spot besides the 5 spot would be only encouraging more fouls.

I agree with Ernie,

Our most pressing need is a physical presence underneath. Hopefully Rebraca can answer that call eventually but I don't think we should wait to see if he will become that person. That's what we need to work on finding this year. It may also help push Rebraca in practice.

With Chucky I think we need to keep him in the starting lineup right now because we really don't have a solid 2-3 option on offense with our starting five. Stack is clearly 1 and then Robinson and Atkins kind of alternate that 2-3 spot depending on the night. I would like to see us establish Robinson in the post more than we do early in games. When we do that we seem to be unbeatable (at least during the regular season). However, his age and his vital role on defense may be the reason why he hasn't really become a true consistent second option.

Here's the one thing that concerns me about this team. This squad is so successful not because we have the world's greatest starters. It is successful because they are very deep and because of chemistry. Chemistry has a tendency to fade a second year after a team supposedly "overachieves" during one year. As much as I've loved this season, I don't think the same cast can do the same they did this year next year. Changes will have to be made.

I rattled off a lot of crap here and I'm not sure if I really said anything. :)

Don't take any of this too seriously. I'm not. I'm just enjoying the rest of this season as much as I possibly can. This season in many ways is the best Pistons season I've ever experienced. This team will always have a spot in my memory bank as one of my favorite Detroit sports teams ever.

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