The Detroit Pistons have been burning up the phone lines this offseason, desperate to make more moves in order to shake up their roster, which was listless the better part of 2012.
Considering the lack of activity that has plagued the franchise recently, that’s a welcome, positive sign. Still, with news over the weekend that the Boston Celtics were aiming higher and balking at dealing Rajon Rondo for Brandon Knight and one of Detroit’s expiring contracts, the Pistons would be best served to wait that particular point guard sweepstakes out.
The Celtics have little motivation to trade Rondo right now, short of getting blown away by a major return from suiters that aren’t there. Andre Drummond, Detroit’s budding star, has reportedly been their main target in addition to all else. That’s not happening. Similarly, the Pistons should have motivation to continue dialogue throughout the offseason if they choose, but they should also realize that patience is the biggest key. This is mostly because circumstances are on Detroit’s side for a change.
Rondo is coming off major ACL surgery, meaning he’ll likely be shelved most of the first half of the season. At this point, the Pistons would be paying a heavy price for a major what if that could turn out to be a nightmare. Instead, if Rondo is indeed their guy, they could watch his comeback to see how he looks and then proposition the Celtics later on around December. If Rondo is struggling, the price could have come down significantly by then, or if he plays well, it could remain the same. In that scenario, at least Joe Dumars wouldn’t have jumped the gun beforehand and become stuck with damaged goods.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, Detroit could explore a safer move which might come at a lower cost. Yesterday, it was reported the Pistons had interest in Milwaukee Bucks’ point guard Brandon Jennings, a restricted free agent. After the Bucks led a failed pursuit of Jeff Teague, it’s clear Milwaukee is searching for other options for their back court and a messy divorce with Jennings is the next step. Detroit could push for a sign and trade with Knight and an expiring contract for Jennings, landing a healthier point guard with big-game potential while not being forced to give up Drummond or perhaps even Greg Monroe.
Between Rondo and Jennings, there isn’t much of a glaring difference, besides the fact that Rondo has shown the ability to lead a team to playoff success while being a quality assist man. If anything, Jennings is a much better playmaker and will certainly be the more proven talent heading into the beginning of next season. Detroit’s goal for 2013 appears to be making the playoffs and finding immediate improvement. If that’s true, a healthy Jennings certainly helps the team more in the short term than a gimpy Rondo does.
As always, it will come down to who Dumars himself likes more. He might prefer the gritty defense of Rondo to the creation ability of Jennings. In either case, there are at least two unique options for him to explore outside the mishmash currently on the roster, helping to eliminate plenty of panic from those who don’t understand the logic behind signing Josh Smith while not replacing a distributor like Jose Calderon.
The Pistons have plenty of time to find their next floor general, and they now have more than one interesting option on the table which helps in each negotiation. Landing that player, whomever it becomes, will be the final puzzle piece towards dramatically reshaping Detroit’s roster.
It doesn’t have to happen today or tomorrow, though. Finally, during an offseason, it appears that time and circumstance are on the Pistons’ side of the court.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax