The Detroit Pistons suddenly find themselves in an enviable position.
No, not the one where they have tons of young talent; that is obviously the best position, but it is also the rarest one.
Rather, the Pistons are in the position where they have lots of moveable contracts on their roster and plenty of expiring deals.
Part in parcel with that, as well, is their diminishing hopes for the playoffs. The Pistons are suddenly showcasing some of those players with the likely intention of boosting their trade value ahead of the February 21st trade deadline.
Two of those players that could figure into the Pistons trade plans are Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye.
Similarly Disappointing Paths
Both Villanueva and Daye joined Detroit ahead of the 2009 season. Both were envisioned for similar roles with the Pistons, as big men with the ability to stretch the floor with their perimeter shots.
And both have come no where near meeting expectations.
Villanueva was part of the Pistons "reboot" following the Allen Iverson debacle. They used the money they saved from dealing Chauncey Billups for the one-time star guard to sign Villanueva and Ben Gordon.
However, the shifting of the team from a tough and gritty defensive-minded squad to a soft-as-butter finesse group was not a wise decision, and both Villanueva and Gordon struggled mightily. Gordon was eventually dealt for the player that used to be Corey Maggette and a first round pick.
Villanueva eventually found himself in bench purgatory until recently finding some success as a situational stretch four.
Daye was brought in as a first round pick and was thought of by most as Tayshaun Prince's eventual replacement.
After a solid rookie campaign that saw him average just over five points a game in limited minutes, he started to show real promise as a sophomore.
But during the coaching carousel, he turned into the odd man out last year and put up career-low numbers across the board.
This year he started out incredibly slowly, but since gaining some playing time is knocking down nearly 55 percent of his three-point attempts.
Their Current Situation
Villanueva and Daye may have similar backgrounds as it pertains to the Pistons, but they are in somewhat different situations now.
Villanueva has a player option for next year of $8.5 million that he would be insane not to exercise. No matter where he is next year, he is not going to command anywhere near that on the open market.
Daye; however, is a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer of $4.1 million. That means that the Pistons can either choose to match any offer if another team wishes to sign him or they can re-sign him starting at said $4.1 million.
So where do these two fit into the Pistons future plans?
It is hard to see a scenario where Villanueva will be playing for Detroit beyond next year. He really can't do anything outside of knock down three-pointers and buy shoes.
Since those type of players are relatively common in the NBA, the Pistons likely will try to find a cheaper replacement, perhaps even Daye.
But ideally, the Pistons will ask whoever they choose to at least provide one additional ability, whether it be defense or rebounding or even passing ability. Currently, Daye does about as much as Villanueva does in those categories.
Daye's situation is a little trickier. Sure, he has been colossally disappointing for Detroit, but on the bright side he is only 24 and will come somewhat cheap beyond this year. Currently he is far from worth the qualifying offer of $4.1 million, and so he may be sufficiently motivated beyond next year to improve his play and earn a larger payday.
Currently, these two have limited trade value. Villanueva used to be considered an unmovable contract.
But with his recent solid play (nearly 10 points per game in his last 10 games), Villanueva has become at least somewhat tradeable.
That being said, he still will not bring back much in the way of talent. The Pistons are probably better off holding onto him until next year when he will be an expiring deal and try to trade him then. They could even choose to include him in a draft day deal.
Daye; however, probably needs to be moved sooner.
The Pistons don't want to spend any money, let alone over $4 million on a player like Daye. No part of his game with the exception of his shooting has improved since his rookie year.
He is still out of position as a defender on nearly every possession, he rebounds with all the ferocity of an overweight house cat, and he is too slow-footed to scare anyone when he drives the lane.
He is nonathletic and lacks the mental side of the game to make up for it.
The Pistons probably need to try to get whatever they can for Daye. This could boil down to just a second round pick in a future draft, but anything is better than nothing.
Besides, dealing Daye frees up minutes for a youngster that could figure into the Pistons future plans like Khris Middleton or Jonas Jerebko.
The Road Ahead
It may be tough to watch at times, but the Pistons are finally showing some progress as a franchise. That being said, they are not a playoff team this year and the front office will be forced to admit that ahead of the trade deadline.
Sadly, they don't even look good off of the court either.
All joking aside, the Pistons figure to be at least somewhat active this trade season as they have nearly $20 million in expiring deals plus the $5.5 million they will no longer be paying Richard Hamilton to play for someone else.
The question becomes whether or not they choose to add any talent for those expiring deals.