Monday, February 13, 2006

If it's Tuesday near the trade deadline, it must be Belgium time to talk Darko

What's the question on every Pistons' fan lips? No, it's not, "Why did the Pistons pick Darko when they could have had Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh?" It's, "Will Darko be traded?"

Burning up the airwaves and the web is word that Orlando wants our favorite human victory cigar. Orlando offered Kelvin Cato and their first round pick in return for Carlos Arroyo and the legend known as Darko Milicic. So, do you make this trade?

If you move forward with this, the cap relief is something important to consider. Cato is nothing but end of the bench big man insurance, much like Darko is at this point. So as a player, Cato brings little. But what about his contract? Cato has an expiring 8 million dollar contract, which is extremely valuable. You know the Pistons are trying to maintain plenty of salary cap maneuverability for Ben Wallace this coming off season.

Let's not forget the first rounder, which would be even more important in the long run. That first round pick, considering Orlando's current team, should be in the lottery. That pick makes the trade damn tempting. Before we get all excited and giddy like little schoolgirls, think about this one factor, and this is a HUGE factor...Do you want to depend on Lindsey Hunter as the only backup to Billups? Hunter hasn't played a single minute this season.

That's why I don't make the trade if Arroyo is involved.

Say what you will about Arroyo's maddeningly inconsistent play, but he's the only backcourt reserve whom Flip Saunders has given important minutes, and the one legit point guard option behind Billups. Arroyo goes, and it's either Hunter or Prince at the point when Billups sits. Which wouldn't be much...

I seriously doubt that you can depend on Hunter as your full time backup point guard. At this stage of his career, Hunter is first and foremost a defensive specialist, his minutes should be used judiciously. You don't want him running the offense for extended periods. Do you want a three guard rotation of Billups, Hamilton, and Hunter? With that so-called rotation, Billups and Hamilton just might as well play 48 minutes a game. You best have another decent ball handling guard ready and waiting to step in via another trade if you unload Arroyo.

I think we've all accepted the fact that Darko won't amount to much more than the equal of William Bedford here in Detroit. Too many factors worked against Darko. All-Star caliber players in front of him on the depth chart, qustionable work ethic due to his youth, the inability to live up to huge expectations, and the fact that he's not LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh. That last reason is an especially heavy load for anyone, let alone an inexperienced euro teenager.

It's obvious that the Pistons are seriously listening to trade offers as the rumors weren't shot down in the media immeadiately. The Pistons' radar is up and they are actively looking for the right deal. After all, Darko is the biggest and best bargaining chip the Pistons own. Orlando's offer shows that there is a market out there for Darko. Someone is always willing to take a chance on a (Supposedly) talented big man. (See Michael Olowokandi) If Orlando's offering a servicable big man with an large expiring contract, and a likely lottery pick, you think that another team is willing to Joe Dumars even more?

I do.

The clock is ticking on Darko's worth, so the question becomes how long do you sit on the asset? I believe if the right combination of player, contract, and draft pick comes along, Darko and most likely Arroyo, are gone. It's no longer a matter of if Darko is leaving, but when. It may just happen at the trade deadline. It's becoming more and more obvious that Darko's days of being Detroit's victory cigar are numbered.

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