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T-Mac to the Pistons: What Does It Mean?

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 20:  Tracy McGrady #3 of the New York Knicks smiles after making a basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 2010 in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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Douglas Delecki JrContributor IAugust 10, 2010

Joe Dumars has signed Tracy McGrady to a one-year deal to come play for the Detroit Pistons. It’s an interesting move. McGrady is a low risk, high reward signing for Detroit, but what he is really doing is making a desperate attempt to regain his place (and paycheck) as one of the league’s top superstars.

It was an odd signing for Detroit, as they already have Gordon, Hamilton, Prince, Daye, and Summers listed as wing players. Rodney Stuckey is also better as a wing, with Bynum playing the point alongside him. In short, the Pistons didn’t really need a perimeter player unless it was a point guard. The one thing this move tells me for sure is Dumars is being hamstrung by an owner that is in full sell now mode.

There are three things that make this readily apparent to me. The first of which is the fact that Tayshaun Prince is still on the team. Prince is an effective player, who is still in his prime, and in the last year of his contract. His trade value is at an all-time high. With all the wings the Pistons have, his value to this franchise is at an all time low.

There was a time when Joe would make a steal of a trade with Prince’s contract. Remember the Clifford Robinson trade? These trades happen when owners are willing to take on salary. Maybe you think no one has made a suitable offer. That may be true, but the Pistons also haven’t used their mid-level exception.

The free agent market was overblown this offseason, but they could have at least used part of their mid-level to sign an aging veteran. Some teams even split their midlevel between two players. Considering the Pistons needs (big men are expensive), this probably wasn’t a realistic option, but you would think they would at least pick up a serviceable body down low using the exception for a one-year deal.

The third thing that makes me believe Karen Davidson is in full sell mode was the signing of McGrady itself. He’s a player the team doesn’t need, who was at one time a huge star and comes cheap. Davidson must believe that McGrady can increase ticket sales since he nearly made the all star team last season. This is contrary to the fact she wanted a quick sale, but the late Bill Davidson had a plan to keep the team in the family, and we all see how that worked out.

If this line of reasoning is indeed true, the joke is on Davidson. She should have studied harder, because McGrady only gets consideration due to the fact he plays with Yao Ming. All of China votes for him, but American fans know by now he’s not worth the price of admission.

The true irony of the situation is that slashing payroll is not the best way to sell a team. The best way to sell a team is to make them a competitor. Unfortunately, Davidson has tied the hands of her team president killing any chance the Pistons have of a quick turnaround.

This inspires the new Piston fan prayer seen here: “Dear Lord, please let Mike Illitch buy the Pistons before it’s too late.”

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