View Full Version : Same Pistons eye different end to season

09-30-2008, 11:41 AM
by A. Sherrod Blakely
Monday September 29, 2008, 11:42 PM

AUBURN HILLS -- Chauncey Billups was all smiles during Monday's media day at the Detroit Pistons' practice facility.

Being able to still put on a Pistons jersey was reason enough for him -- and Detroit's other core players -- to rejoice.

Few would have expected the Pistons' core group -- Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace -- to be back this season, not after Joe Dumars said he was willing to trade all of them in June after yet another disappointing finish in the Eastern Conference finals.

"We've been to the mountain top with this core group, so it's good to know that Joe has the confidence that we can get back there," Wallace said.

This group's return isn't so much a vote of confidence on Dumars' part, but instead speaks to the fact that he didn't receive an offer that he felt would make the Pistons better.

"I'm not in a position where I'm forced to do a risky deal that, I don't know how this is gonna turn out," Dumars said in an interview earlier this month. "It's either do a good deal, or don't do a deal at all."

Hamilton sees the core group's return as a great opportunity.

"A lot of people and a lot of teams want us to break up," Hamilton said. "I think everybody was licking their chops. But I feel good about our chances. Guys are hungry."

Maybe no Piston is more eager to get started than Billups, who took his share of criticism due to a lackluster, injury-riddled postseason which saw Detroit's season end in the Eastern Conference finals for the third consecutive season.

"I'm definitely happy that we look the same," Billups said. "I've said all along -- I love playing with these guys. We've been to the top of that mountain together. And I think with a few different change-ups, we can get back there."

One of those changes Billups referred to involves the insertion of a new, more youthful player in the starting lineup.

Pistons coach Michael Curry is looking to have Antonio McDyess resume his role as a sixth man, while Amir Johnson, Jason Maxiell and Kwame Brown battle it out to see who will become a starter in the frontcourt with Prince and Wallace.

It's too soon to say who will win out, but it will likely come down to Johnson and Maxiell.

Both provide the kind of energy and effort that first-year coach Michael Curry is looking to inject in the starting lineup.

However, Johnson might have an early edge now because of his size (6-foot-11), athleticism and comfort level as a complementary player, as opposed to Maxiell, who is more of a scorer.

Curry said the main reason for making a change in the starting lineup, is to make better use of McDyess' scoring ability.

"McDyess is too good a player to play 28 minutes and get seven shots," Curry said. "So I think I can get him seven shots in 21 minutes, and that can be less of a strain on his body. What we want to do is use him, and be more efficient with him and his body. What we've looked at, is if we bring McDyess off the bench, he can be the primary scorer along with Rodney Stuckey."

McDyess, who turned 34 years old earlier this month, isn't concerned with being a starter or coming off the bench.

"I didn't have any expectations when I came here," McDyess said. "But if coming off the bench is going to be productive for me, whatever they want me to do, I'll do it."

But McDyess, like his fellow veterans, is happy just to still be putting on a Pistons jersey.

"We all knew Joe wanted to make a change or two," McDyess said. "Am I surprised we're all back here? Yeah. A little bit. But Joe knows what he's doing. If he didn't think we could get it done and win a championship, he would have made changes. I'm sure of that."

09-30-2008, 12:33 PM
"However, Johnson might have an early edge now because of his size (6-foot-11), athleticism and comfort level as a complementary player, as opposed to Maxiell, who is more of a scorer."

what...Maxiell more of a scorer? did he mean between the two of them or what.

09-30-2008, 01:59 PM
must have. maxiell is developing there but far from being called a scorer