Wednesday evening, the Detroit Pistons finally put the final member of their 2004 championship roster out of his misery, as Tayshaun Prince was shipped to the Memphis Grizzles in a three team deal. Coming across the boarder from Toronto to Detroit? Jose Calderon. Muy bueno!
Also heading south with Prince is Austin Daye, a small forward drafted in 2009 with designs of being Prince’s replacement. Unfortunately, after Prince lingered a bit too long in Detroit, Daye was never able to become a leader and elevate his game in time. With this deal, days of slow offensive tempo are officially over in Detroit.
It’s about time. Make no mistake, Prince should be considered one of the top players in Pistons’ history. His contributions to Detroit over several years, including lock down defense on Tracy McGrady, the block heard ’round the world and other moments are memorable. He was also excellent in the community, always representing the franchise with class and dignity. That still doesn’t change the fact he hung around far too long. This move should have come years ago, but everything happens for a reason.
Prince’s unique style of play and body type, from his swooping, gangly arms, big dunks and gliding moves in the post likely won’t be seen again in the NBA. Daye is living, breathing proof of that. The Pistons thought they had a ready made heir apparent to groom, but Daye didn’t work hard enough, nor did he have what it took to match Prince’s effort level and talent. As a result, he’s gone too. A fresh start for one player still trying to make his way, and a new beginning for another player in the twilight of his career. The plodding approach has concluded, with a higher flying offensive attack hopefully promised.
Now, the Pistons get a big benefit in the form of Calderon’s lightning quick passing and accuracy. Perhaps he becomes a bigger part of the plans going forward instead of Rodney Stuckey, who should be the next misfit toy to go. With Calderon, one of the most efficient facilitators in the league, the Pistons can generate some inside looks for Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond with a more up-tempo attack. Impressive Kyle Singler will likely see more well-earned minutes as well. Either way, without Prince’s veteran legs and albatross deal constantly hanging on the books, Joe Dumars might be able to generate some tangible direction for his rebuild.
Looking at this trade from Detroit’s perspective, there is nothing but upside. Calderon is just the type of underrated player that could help Brandon Knight which was referenced a day ago. With Calderon and Knight playing together, the Pistons would have a smooth, quick passing, attack first backcourt. If they don’t like the results during Calderon’s job interview the rest of this winter and spring, Detroit can simply choose to let him walk at season’s end, adding even more money to their coffers for a potential summer of fun.
For once, credit Dumars for living in the future while being able to say goodbye to the past. Calderon’s smooth style translates better to what today’s NBA has become and what this particular Pistons’ team needs. Prince’s game, quite simply, had become completely useless to his old team. Daye, though given ample chances, was never going to develop into Prince’s exact body double, nor make the type of big impact he was expected to after being a high first round selection.
Though dramatic results might not show up immediately in the standings, basketball around the Palace of Auburn Hills just got much more interesting, if not faster. Blink and you could miss hotter shooting, faster passing and bigger dunks, courtesy of a Spaniard with flair.
Bravo, Joe. This is precisely the type of move we’ve all been longing for.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax