(Update: It’s official, Pistons have re-signed Stuckey.)
Yahoo! Sports reports:
It’s a… well, it’s a move for the Pistons. It’s a matter of two extremes. Let’s do “One Hand, Other Hand.”
On One Hand…
He’s a 25-year-old combo guard who had an 18 PER last season, a career year (total coincidence that it was a contract year!) and upped his assists to six per game. He’s reliable with good handle and a low turnover rate. He’s been with Detroit his entire career and the contract serves to reward a good player who has stuck with the team. He’s still got upside and has started to establish himself as more of a leader. He’s got the ability to defend two-guards and can operate as a combo guard next to Brandon Knight. Young player with above average PER for less than $10 million per year = good.
On The Other Hand…
He had his career year in the most disastrous season in recent memory for the Detroit Pistons. He was part of the veteran revolt in the locker room last season and despite my feeling that John Kuester had as much to do with that as the veterans, it’s not a good example to set. He can’t shoot, topping out at 44 percent last season with a 28 percent mark behind the arc and a .455 effective field goal percentage. He’s a point guard who doesn’t have the speed or vision of a point guard, a two-guard who doesn’t have the scoring ability of a shooting guard. He clogs up the rotation for Brandon Knight and Will Bynum and for that money, is clearly an established part of their future. The Pistons need to move forward, to move on from the mid-00’s run that netted them a championship and umpteen bajillion Eastern Conference Championship appearances in a row. This keeps them planted in that era, along with the 3-year deal for Tayshaun Prince.
Stuckey might continue to improve and this could look genius. Or he could serve to only hold back Knight and complicate the rebuilding process.
It’s a mixed move.
Shane Battier isn’t quite the defensive force he once was; even the plus-minus data that illustrated his worth to teams like the Houston Rockets — not to mention made him the subject of Michael Lewis’ renowned piece for The New York Times — has turned on him of late, leaving Battier as merely a competent defender with an above average three-point stroke. He simply isn’t suited to defend elite players on a nightly basis anymore, even though his skills certainly warrant a regular place in a high-level rotation. Some playoff club out there will do well for themselves by giving Battier minutes, but that club may not be his most recent team, the Memphis Grizzlies.
From Ronald Tillery’s Memphis Edge blog for the Memphis Commercial Appeal (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour blog):
I’ve heard (and this is not fact) that Battier is seeking a contract starting at the mid-level exception (or around $5 million). I’ve also heard the Griz aren’t willing to pay that. So Battier is absolutely right when he says we’ll have to wait and see what the new CBA looks like. No one knows what the exceptions will be if there are any at all.
Battier was a nice fit in Memphis, but he’s not essential there. Tony Allen can do a lot of the defensive heavy lifting, and O.J. Mayo and Sam Young are competent defenders 0n the wing. Plus, Rudy Gay…well, there’s always room for improvement, right?
So the fact that Battier and the Grizzlies aren’t quite seeing eye-to-eye on this rumored annual salary isn’t the greatest tragedy, nor is it in any way the downfall of last year’s fun and surprising Memphis team. All of the core pieces are still in place, and with Gay returning to the rotation in the coming season, minutes for the remaining wing players would be slashed anyway. Allen is due regular burn as one of the league’s top perimeter defenders, while Young and Mayo sop up what’s left of the minutes in reserve. Gay led the Grizzlies at 39.9 minutes per game when healthy last season, and accounting for that amount of playing time requires concessions elsewhere. Battier — as a non-essential component and an unrestricted free agent — is the logical choice.
Meanwhile, every club with a need for a 3-and-D wing player (and really, who couldn’t use an extra one coming off the bench?) will likely be calling up Battier once free agency officially begins. It remains to be seen whether $5 million is an appropriate figure for Battier on this year’s market, but it’s not a ridiculous mark for a solid complementary player.
Sleep easy, Heatians: Eddie House isn’t going anywhere. According to Mike Wallace of ESPN.com’s Heat Index, House has accepted his player option for next season and will spend the 2011-2012 campaign — in whatever length the lockout allows — with the Heat.
House’s option is worth approximately $1.4 million next season, per Storytellers Contracts — a reasonable cost for an effective spot shooter. House’s skill set is quite limited, but Miami will retain him on the cheap and have another backcourt option in case their other plans (namely, the recently drafted Norris Cole) go sour. This isn’t the kind of move that alters any sense of the team or the league’s balance (as good as House is at what he does, shooters of his breed are a very replaceable NBA commodity), but one that nonetheless makes a decent amount of sense for all parties involved.
Mario Chalmers may or may not be with the Heat next season. Cole is an incredibly intriguing prospect, but still unproven as an NBA-caliber player. Mike Bibby likely won’t be re-signed. All of that leaves House as a possible fail-safe; even if Chalmers ends up on another roster, Miami will — at the very least — have Cole and House to fill in minutes alongside Dwyane Wade in the Heat backcourt. Free agency will undoubtedly bring an entirely new set of options to the table, but House is the safe incumbent. He’s far from ideal, but he can manage to be productive in limited minutes if need be, and will fade into the background without consequence if Miami comes up with a superior rotation player.