Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You want a max deal, Chauncey? Then it's time to step up

If Chauncey Billups fancies himself a max contract player, tonight's the night to step up and prove it true. The last 3 playoff games have me, and I'm sure others, wondering in the back recesses of our minds if Billups is actually worth a Steve Nash type deal.

Up to this point, I've been all for giving Billups what he wants. The Pistons don't have a backup plan if Billups bolts, let alone a decent backup point guard, period.

It's been a great 5 year run for this Billups led group, but how long can it realistically continue? I'd love to see him retire a Piston, with his number in the Palace rafters. But is that a practical scenario? The question is going to be asked. How long do you ride a Billups led Pistons team?

Just watching him struggle with a trap that most JV point guards know how to break has been painful. Billups has be slow to adjust, slow to find his shot, and slow to make decisions. His off kilter game has the Pistons' offense looking as ugly as it did during the Larry Brown years. Detroit shouldn't be struggling to score 75 points.

Saying that it has me concerned is an understatement.

Let's get all hypothetical, and just say that Billups continues to stink out the joint, and to be blunt, that's exactly what he been doing during the ECF. Here we go with the "What if's."

What if his struggles are the main reason the Pistons end up going 7, or for that matter, losing, to what is basically a 1 man team, the Cleveland LeBron's? What if the Pistons have reached the limits of their ability? Being over the age of 30, when point guards normally begin to lose a step, what if Billups' skills deteriorate faster than anticipated?

Joe Dumars and the Pistons will have some tough decisions to make.

Do you keep the Pistons as they are? Meaning you give Billiups a shitload of cash, and run with pretty much with the same cast of characters that has carried you over the past 5 seasons. Joe Dumars would be saying that the core team we now see is the same core we'll see for at least the next 3 years.

Joe D would be rolling the dice, in hope that he can restock this team on the fly, without much in cap room. That is possible, if he can hit Tayshaun Prince-like (Or even Jason Maxiell-like) gold with their 2 upcoming first round picks, along with the hoped for development of Carlos Delfino, Amir Johnson and Maxiell.

He would also be betting against the core group of Pistons (Billups, Hamilton, Prince, 'Sheed, McDyess) growing old and/or stale together, as the Bad Boys group did in the early 90's. That lead to some ugly mid-90's seasons, with the Pistons becoming a NBA afterthought. Remember the days of Ron Rothstein, Don Chaney, and 20 win seasons? I try not to...

The next few games playoff games will tell us plenty. It will go a long way in determining if the Pistons, as they are now put together, are a team that will continue to be a NBA title threat for the next few seasons.

It's funny how watching a soon to be free agent point guard play well below his capabilities can suddenly give thought to so many different questions. But if Chauncey Billups and the Pistons handle the LeBron's as they should, and quickly end this series, most of the above questions go away. Continue to struggle, as Bullups and the Pistons have, and the questions get louder.

No pressure, Chauncey...