True Blue Pistons - February 2013

About Keith Langlois
Award-winning journalist Keith Langlois, most recently lead sports columnist at The Oakland Press, joined as the web site editor on October 2, 2006. Langlois, who brings over 27 years of professional sports journalism experience to Palace Sports & Entertainment, serves as's official beat writer and covers the team on a daily basis.

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Posted Thursday, February 28, 2013

Score another one for the powerful Washington lobbyist industry. Lawrence Frank claims the inspiration for his mad scientist moment in Wednesday’s wacky win over the Wizards came from somebody in the crowd.

“The fan in the back suggested it,” Frank said of the second-quarter lineup he threw together for the Pistons that put Brandon Knight, Jose Calderon and Will Bynum on the floor for the first time together. “He said, ‘Hey, man, put three guys in there your size,’ so that’s what I did.”

Yeah, not really. But it was a seat-of-the-pants inspiration, nothing Frank had ever designed. He saw Brandon Knight with 18 first-half points and Calderon racking up assists at an eye-popping rate and wanted to wring all of their good karma out while also giving Bynum a shot to regain his rhythm after sitting out the previous game to satisfy his one-game NBA suspension.

Continue Reading Night at the Improv>>

Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WASHINGTON – If Jose Calderon were a pitcher instead of a point guard, his teammates would have avoided talking to him somewhere around halftime, lest they jinx his perfect game. Calderon went into Wednesday night’s final minute – the equivalent of the bottom of the ninth with two outs – with 18 assists and zero turnovers.

To understand the significance of that, consider: Since the 1985-86 season, when such records began being kept in necessary detail, there have been only 10 such games recorded in the NBA – and only one such game by a Piston, some guy named isiah Thomas.

Then Calderon committed two turnovers in the span of 31 seconds – and they almost conspired to tag him with the loss.

But the Pistons survived when Trevor Ariza’s corner jump shot at the buzzer grazed the net but missed the rim, allowing the Pistons to snap a three-game losing streak and continue their mastery of Washington – that’s 14 wins in the last 16 tries – with a 96-95 thriller.

Continue Reading Wild Win in Washington>>

Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WASHINGTON – The shots haven’t fallen at the rate Khris Middleton expects, but no one is arguing with the quality of his attempts. In three games since Lawrence Frank was forced to juggle the rotation, in part due to Brandon Knight’s knee injury, the Texas A&M rookie has shot 30 percent, making 6 of 20 attempts.

Everything that happened before the shot, though, gave the Pistons optimism that what they saw in Middleton when they grabbed him with the 39th pick in last June’s draft can translate to the NBA.

“He’s got a good, tight mid-range game,” Lawrence Frank said. “The more he plays, the more confidence he has, the more shots he’ll make.”

His versatility of scoring is what put Middleton on the radar of NBA teams. He can come off screens and get his shot off quickly, he can be effective as a catch-and-shoot scorer and Middleton also has shown a knack for using the dribble efficiently to create space and either get off a shot or draw the defense and pass.

Continue Reading Middleton's Shot>>

Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nothing is sacrosanct when a basketball team goes into a tailspin. The rhythms a coach is reluctant to disrupt when his team is playing near its potential become open to dissection when things go sideways.

Couple a rough patch of schedule with a run of injuries on top of the lineup disruption following last month’s trade of the two small forwards in Lawrence Frank’s rotation and … well, all bets are off over the season’s final 23 games.

The latest wrinkle: regular rotation minutes for all three power forwards on the roster. Jason Maxiell remains the starter with both Charlie Villanueva and Jonas Jerebko back in the mix. In the first half of Monday night’s loss to Atlanta – the third straight and fourth in five games since the All-Star break over a hectic seven-day period – the three roughly divided the 24 available minutes at their spot.

Continue Reading New Formula>>

Posted Monday, February 25, 2013

Outscore a team by 40 points in the paint, you figure to win going away. That’s what the Pistons did to Atlanta on Monday night at The Palace, scoring a whopping 66 points in Atlanta’s paint and holding the Hawks to 26 such points.

But Atlanta was happy to trade two points for three, outscoring the Pistons 42-9 from the 3-point line. Couple Atlanta’s perimeter potency with a career night for Al Horford – a 23-point, 22-rebound virtuoso as he became just the sixth player with a 20-20 game against the Pistons in the past decade – and you get the 114-103 thumping the Pistons were administered.

The Pistons were down three key players: Brandon Knight missed his third straight game since suffering a hyperextended right knee in last week’s win at Charlotte, Will Bynum sat out his one-game suspension for hitting Tyler Hansbrough in Saturday’s loss to Indiana and Andre Drummond remains out due to his back injury. They were also playing their fifth game in seven nights since returning from the All-Star break, and the mix-and-match lineups Lawrence Frank has been forced to use can’t help with defensive communication.

Continue Reading Hotlanta>>

Posted Sunday, February 24, 2013

When the Pistons had a full 15-man roster and no injury concerns, Lawrence Frank designated Slava Kravtsov and Khris Middleton inactive more than anyone with 60 combined games. Kim English has seen another five in street clothes.

In Saturday’s loss to Indiana, those three were the first ones off Frank’s bench.

The trade of Tayshaun Prince and injuries to Andre Drummond and Brandon Knight have turned the rotation on its ear. The result: a first real chance for the three rookies to make an impression on the coaching staff and front office.

“It’s very hard within the course of a game to play everyone, but as we continue to go further, as I told you before, we’ll continue to look at different combinations,” Frank said. “Things that aren’t working, then we’ve got to continue to go in another direction. At some point in the season, everyone will get their turn. And, literally, at this point, there’s no one who can say, ‘I haven’t gotten an opportunity.’ Now what we have to do is see what’s in the best interest of helping us win and grow and get better.”

Continue Reading Opportunity Knocks>>

Posted Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Pistons were markedly better defensively than 24 hours earlier in Indiana. They played noticeably harder. But they again had little success solving the NBA’s toughest defense. Once they crossed half-court, the Pistons had as much trouble getting clean looks at the basket as drivers in a whiteout have figuring out where the lane ends and the ditch begins.

One night after facing the season’s largest deficit – 43 points – the Pistons mounted their season worst scoring total, 72 points. And it looked like they’d never get within sniffing distance of 72 when they scored nine points and shot 14 percent in the first quarter.

“I thought we were pretty good defensively, too,” Lawrence Frank said after the 90-72 win that mercifully ends the season series with Indiana in a sweep for the Pacers. “We held them to 16 points. This was a very good lesson for us in terms of what playoff basketball is like. It’s a grind-fest.”

Continue Reading Handcuffed>>

Posted Friday, February 22, 2013

When Lawrence Frank preaches the mantra of becoming a “defense-first” team, the Indiana Pacers are likely what he has in mind. The Pacers drained all suspense from Friday night’s game early, smothering the Pistons in the opening minutes, converting turnovers and forced shots into easy scoring chances repeatedly.

The Pistons were down double digits barely three minutes into the game and never recovered. Frank called two timeouts in the first five minutes and went through everybody on his bench – a mere 11 players with Andre Drummond (back), Brandon Knight (knee) and Corey Maggette (illness) all watching from the locker room – by midway through the second quarter.

Nothing much changed. The Pacers kept coming, turning defense into offense, alternately raining open 3-pointers and easy chances at the rim, taking advantage of their size and brute force. The Pistons went from down 17 after one quarter to 24 at halftime to 40 by late in the third quarter in a 114-82 loss, their worst of the season.

Continue Reading Slam Dunked>>

Posted Thursday, February 21, 2013

The biggest name traded during an anticlimactic trade-deadline day turned out to be a guy who doesn’t even have a real first name: J.J. Redick. Nice player, great shooter, but doesn’t exactly rise to the level of stop-the-presses magnitude.

Tayshaun Prince and Jose Calderon had bigger names – and they weren’t even the driving force behind the deal that Joe Dumars executed late last month. That three-team trade – technically, two separate two-team trades – was driven by Toronto’s desire to land a go-to scorer and Memphis’ equally strong motivation to pare down a payroll already bloated at the top by hefty payouts to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

So if you were emotionally deflated by the Pistons’ inactivity at Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline, let that January deal be instructive. It’s sort of the blueprint for what will be possible, on a grander scale, this summer.

Continue Reading Deadline Perspective>>

Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2013

CHARLOTTE – One of the footnotes to the Pistons’ acquisition of Jose Calderon was his elite free-throw shooting. Teams that consistently play from ahead and must protect late leads at the foul line benefit most from such a player, as the Goin’ to Work Pistons did so often when Chauncey Billups always had his hands on the ball late in close games.

The first payoff from that aspect of Calderon’s arsenal came Wednesday night, when he iced a 105-99 road win over Charlotte by canning five late free throws. The fact he didn’t make all six caused his face to twist in mock disgust in a happy winning locker room one night after a disquieting home loss to Memphis.

“I missed one night – it slipped from my hand,” Calderon said after his 17 points nicely augmented the 21 from Brandon Knight and 19 from Greg Monroe. “But I have the opportunity to go back again and hit two more at the end, no problem. I’m always there to get that ball. Some days I’m going to make every one, but at the end of the day it’s just about confidence in myself. My teammates were like, ‘Grab the ball, get the ball,’ so I’m happy about that, too.”

alt= "Continue Reading Road Winners">>

Posted Monday, February 18, 2013

Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton all returned to The Palace in uniforms other than Pistons red, white and blue. Tayshaun Prince becomes the last of the 2004 NBA championship core to do so, but his visit – Tuesday as the Pistons regroup following the All-Star break – comes as Pistons fans are still digesting the reality.

The return for Prince and Austin Daye was Jose Calderon, whose playmaking has given Lawrence Frank’s offense a jolt. The Pistons are 3-3 since Calderon was cleared to play as visa issues were resolve two weeks ago. Frank says he’s up to speed with what he’s been handed, but that the offense will continue to evolve as new wrinkles designed to take advantage of Calderon’s strengths are added.

“You continue to grow – getting him defensively on the same page with what we’re doing and then offensively it’s continue to cater to him,” Frank said. “There are things he does real well we want to be able to take advantage of, so we’ll continue to add those things as we move forward.”

Continue Reading Quick Return>>

Posted Thursday, February 14, 2013

Roy Rogers’ pulse raced late last spring as the Pistons were preparing for the June draft and the front office solicited his opinion on a college big man he’d heard about but hadn’t really seen. “I remember sitting in my office and going, ‘This guy could be available?’ ” Rogers recalls today after viewing the DVD compilation of Andre Drummond prepared for him by the front office.

“Even though he was raw, you could see just his pure ability – his footwork, his ability to contest shots, his ability to rebound the ball out of his area. I was blown away. I was sold. It’s like ‘Jerry McGuire’ and ‘You had me at hello.’ He had me at the first blocked shot. I was sold.”

One week after the draft, the Pistons assistant who works most closely with the team’s big men got his chance at hands-on coaching with Drummond as Pistons staffers gathered in Orlando for Summer League. Nothing about his enthusiasm for Drummond was diminished by their nine days together in Florida. But Rogers knew there was serious work to be done in the two-plus months leading to October’s training camp if Drummond was going to be ready to help as a rookie.

Continue Reading ‘I Was Sold’>>

Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2013

If the old bromide about center and point guard being a basketball team’s two most critical positions remains valid, then the Pistons were destined to win Wednesday’s All-Star getaway game. Point guards Jose Calderon and Will Bynum combined for 44 points, Calderon draining 6 of 9 long-distance shots on his way to a game-high 24 points and Bynum racking up 20 points and eight assists in just 21 minutes off the bench.

Greg Monroe, meanwhile, had joined Grant Hill as the only Pistons over the last 17 years with eight straight double-doubles – and Monroe did it by halftime, finishing with 16 points and 18 rebounds.

But if the contributions of Slava Kravtsov don’t jump off the box score with nearly the force of those three, they were perhaps no less critical to the win.

The little-used Ukrainian rookie anchored Detroit’s defense during an 11-0 run early in the fourth quarter when the Pistons came from five points down and stoned Washington on nine straight possessions. Kravtsov finished with four points on two dunks, blocked a shot, recorded two steals and came up with an important offensive rebound that led to two points in 14 rock-solid minutes.

Continue Reading Out with a Win>>

Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Among Lawrence Frank’s trove of favored truisms are these: Players “have never arrived” and teams “never have it figured out.” Then along come games like Monday’s to prove him right.

Just when the Pistons might have allowed themselves to believe they’d turned into a well-oiled offensive juggernaut, the struggling New Orleans Hornets locked them in shackles. After a string of impressive offensive performances, the Pistons shot 36 percent and struggled to reach 86 points in losing decisively to the soon-to-be Pelicans.

But over the preceding games, the basketball was popping from one side of the court to the other as if it were a game of Pong brought to life. After recording just five games of 25 or more assists in the season’s first 46 games – game 46 coming at Indiana on the night of the three-team trade that brought Jose Calderon to Detroit – the Pistons then recorded five more such games over their next six.

Continue Reading Passing Fancy>>

Posted Monday, February 11, 2013

On a night fans were robbed of what should have been the first meeting of rookies Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis, the Pistons felt the sting of Drummond’s absence for the first time since learning late last week he’d miss at least a month with a back injury.

Drummond and Davis were widely considered the top two candidates to become the No. 1 pick in 2012 before the 2011-12 college season began and Drummond’s productivity didn’t come close to matching expectations.

That bit of serendipity allowed the Pistons to get a player with the ninth pick who has clearly demonstrated there should have been a spirited predraft debate about the merits of Drummond vs. Davis for the No. 1 pick.

Continue Reading That Stings>>

Posted Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lawrence Frank is the first to admit his life won’t win any awards for the breadth of his experiences. Like most pro or big-time college coaches, his attention is devoured by the excesses required of the job. To the extent he’s familiar with mainstream pop movies, it’s because he turns his TV on in the middle of the night to help induce a few hours of fitful sleep before he beats everyone else to work in the predawn hours.

But when he spoke of the need to “turn a negative into a positive” with regard to Andre Drummond’s back injury, he wasn’t speaking from deep inside the bunker where most coaches take up residence. He was speaking with genuine intent and authority. There really are things Drummond can do in his down time to make himself a better player upon his return.

It’s disappointing, of course, that Drummond must sit out until mid- or late March simply because it was such a joy to track the remarkable arc of his progress. Watching Drummond was like monitoring the early months of a baby’s life, where there is almost nothing subtle about the rapid succession of “firsts” accomplished.

Continue Reading A Half-Full Glass>>

Posted Saturday, February 9, 2013

One reason the Milwaukee Bucks felt comfortable enough to make Charlie Villanueva a free agent four years ago was the fact they had Ersan Ilyasova – a player they knew could provide many of the things that made Villanueva so effective for them – waiting in the wings.

Those two players were in the same frame of the picture that defined Saturday’s game: Charlie V taking a twisting pass from Will Bynum, allowing Ilyasova to fly past him on a harried closeout, calmly gathering himself as the shot clock hit 2 seconds before letting a 3-point shot fly from the top of the arc. There were 10 seconds left in the game and the score was tied at 100. Rodney Stuckey raised his arms to the roof even as Villanueva released the shot, which ruffled the nets at the far end of the court from the erupting Detroit bench.

Brandon Jennings heaved a wild 3-pointer from 40 feet, attempting to draw a foul, and the Pistons clinched it with two Rodney Stuckey free throws.

Continue Reading Wild Win in Milwaukee>>

Posted Friday, February 8, 2013

Andre Drummond is as important to the Pistons’ future as Tim Duncan has been to San Antonio’s past. Just as their careers were poised to intersect for the first time, the grind of the NBA season intervened and cost both the chance to suit up at The Palace on Friday.

Drummond will miss at least the next four weeks and possibly longer. The injury – a stress fracture of Drummond’s fifth lumbar vertebra – poses no long-term threat, team physician Dr. Benjamin Paolucci said Friday.

As the Pistons digested that distasteful news, they at least left The Palace with a good taste in their mouth – a 119-109 win over San Antonio, playing without Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring), snapping the Spurs’ 11-game winning streak.

The ripple effects of losing Drummond included extended time for Greg Monroe, who responded with 26 points and 16 rebounds in 40 minutes. Lawrence Frank shortened his rotation, using only Charlie Villanueva up front behind Monroe and Jason Maxiell. Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey were the only perimeter backups to Kyle Singler, Brandon Knight and Jose Calderon.

Continue Reading Spurs Stoppers>>

Posted Friday, February 8, 2013

Andre Drummond won’t be playing in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend – and he might not be suiting up for the Pistons until late March.

The back injury Drummond said he incurred in attempting to block a Steve Blake shot during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at The Palace has been diagnosed as stress fracture of the fifth lumbar vertebrae. Drummond, who saw Pistons team doctors on Thursday and underwent further testing on Friday, will be out four to six weeks, according to Dr. Ben Paolucci, Pistons team physician. The regular season ends on April 17, which would be roughly a month after Drummond could be ready to return.

The injury was discovered by way of an MRI exam Drummond underwent on Thursday.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that a stress fracture should have no residual effects, Paolucci said. In other words, unlike disc injuries that often lead to chronic back trouble, once the stress fracture is healed, it’s healed.

Continue Reading Drummond Idled>>

Posted Thursday, February 7, 2013

When you think of players who run up gaudy assist totals, the mind wanders to Magic Johnson’s no-look dishes for dunks or Steve Nash’s bounce passes that elude a maze of arms and legs to feed a layup.

“You’re not going to see a lot of spectacular passes from me,” said Jose Calderon, who has seen just eight other NBA players dish out more assists since coming to the NBA for the 2006-07 season. “I’m not behind-the-back, between-the-legs or no-look. If the pass is there, the pass is going to get there, but easy passes. If it’s not there, I’m not going to risk it. I’ll throw lobs, but no fancy stuff. That’s not the way I play. I’m not that kind of guy.”

The Pistons got glimpses of what Calderon offers in Wednesday’s game with Brooklyn, especially during Calderon’s seven-assist third quarter. Imagine what he can do after logging his first practice with the Pistons, which came Thursday afternoon.

Continue Reading Getting to Know You>>

Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lawrence Frank mused before taking on the franchise that gave him his big NBA break about the dilemma of defending the Brooklyn Nets and their three maximum contract players: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. The Pistons limited their impact for 43 minutes and were in position to win another game against a playoff-bound team, but they couldn’t close it out.

On a night Frank had to make things up on the fly due to foul trouble (Jason Maxiell picked up three quick ones, then two more in the third quarter), injury (Andre Drummond left after four first-half minutes with a back that stiffened on him for the second straight game) and some up-and-down bench play (Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey shot a combined 3 of 15), the Pistons didn’t have the margin for error to overcome a good closing burst by Brooklyn’s big three.

Williams, Johnson and Lopez – who combined for 45 points, six under their cumulative season average – scored 11 of Brooklyn’s final 13 points in a 93-90 win that saw the Pistons lead by 13 early and fail to send it to overtime when Will Bynum’s contested triple at the buzzer fell well short.

Continue Reading Net Loss>>

Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tayshaun Prince was a coach’s security blanket, the guy the Pistons knew could handle guarding the NBA’s array of elite wing scorers without requiring constant double-team help and the player whose number would be called in tight games when open shots become harder to find.

Kyle Singler has assumed Prince’s decade-long spot as the team’s starting small forward and, beyond that, he’s exhibiting many of the traits that made Prince such a valuable part of the equation before last week’s three-team trade that netted Toronto point guard Jose Calderon for the Pistons.

In two recent games, last Friday’s win over Cleveland and Sunday’s crushing one-point loss to the Lakers, it was Singler who led the Pistons in minutes played with 37 and 40. Singler spent much of the Laker game guarding Kobe Bryant after Rodney Stuckey picked up two quick fouls, then Monday his defensive versatility led Lawrence Frank to cross-match and use Singler to guard Carmelo Anthony, who opened at power forward.

Continue Reading Changing on the Fly>>

Posted Monday, February 4, 2013

NEW YORK – Jose Calderon was cleared to play early Monday afternoon and made his Pistons debut as their starting point guard six hours later in the world’s most famous arena. Probably not surprising, then, that the offense wasn’t exactly poetry in motion, but eventually the Pistons are confident Calderon’s sublime playmaking skills will make them a more consistently efficient scoring team.

They’ll have to look within, though, to figure out a way to improve their defense.

The Knicks, who have tormented them in three lopsided wins this season, made six 3-point baskets in the first quarter – about what the Pistons yield in a typical game – and 14 for the night on their way to a 99-85 win. New York outscored the Pistons by 33 points from the 3-point line.

Continue Reading Knicked Again>>

Posted Monday, February 4, 2013

NEW YORK – The wheels of government got greased just fast enough to clear Jose Calderon in time to make his Pistons debut in the most famous arena in the world. The Pistons announced early this afternoon that Calderon, acquired last week in a three-team trade that sent Tayshaun Prince to Memphis and brought Calderon over from Toronto, has been cleared after having visa issues that involved a Spanish citizen being transferred from a Canadian to a United States-based NBA team. The Pistons play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Those restrictions not only prevented Calderon from playing with the Pistons in their two games since completing the trade – home games with Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers – they also kept Calderon from practicing or working with Pistons trainers. But he traveled with the team after Sunday’s 98-97 loss to the Lakers and is expected to be in uniform for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. tipoff against the Knicks.

Continue Reading Calderon a Go>>

Posted Sunday, February 3, 2013

Two halves, two teams, two last-second sideline-out-of-bounds plays, two different results. There’s a fine line between winning and losing in the NBA. The Pistons are pushing ever closer to it. But the Lakers scored as the first-half buzzer sounded on their long-shot play and Andre Drummond’s attempt to tap home Kyle Singler’s lob from the far sideline failed in the second half. Bottom line: Los Angeles left The Palace on the right side of a 98-97 final.

Lawrence Frank won’t focus so much on that – except that Earl Clark’s dunk of Kobe Bryant’s inbounds lob came as part of a disastrous, error-filled final minute of the first half that allowed the Lakers to turn a six-point lead into an 11-point gap.

Frank won’t even dwell on the agonizing what-might-have-been of Will Bynum’s in-and-out layup with three seconds to go that would have put the Pistons ahead 99-98 and left Bynum distraught in the aftermath after he willed the Pistons from 18 points behind.

Continue Reading The Thrill, the Agony>>

Posted Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jose Calderon can watch all the video he wants to familiarize himself with the offense whose reins will soon be in his hands, but until his visa issues are resolved he can’t practice with the Pistons or play in any games.

“They just told me they’ll let me know,” Lawrence Frank said. “He can’t do anything. He can have a pad. He can take notes. I stay away from it. When they tell me, ‘Don’t touch him,’ I don’t touch him. We can talk to him. This is like NCAA recruiting – the legal way.”

Aside from the delayed gratification, Frank doesn’t believe the delay will prolong Calderon’s acclimation process. The point-guard-in-limbo sat behind the team behind in Friday’s convincing win over Cleveland with a notepad.

Continue Reading In Limbo>>

Posted Friday, February 1, 2013

Tayshaun Prince was a security blanket, a player coaches and teammates leaned on in the lonely moments. If it was a close game and the Pistons hadn’t scored in a few trips, Prince was sure to get the ball on the right wing, where he would survey the landscape and decide how to make the most efficient use of a critical possession.

Now that he’s gone, the players on whose shoulders the Pistons have rested a huge chunk of their future, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, will be first in line to assume the burden Prince bore with relatively little fanfare ever since becoming the last man standing from the Goin’ to Work Pistons that tripped to six straight conference finals.

Early returns? Extremely encouraging.

Playing their first home game without Prince – and their first game without the utter shock factor that they experienced Wednesday at Indiana, when they took the court not quite knowing what was going down – the Pistons led from wire to wire, getting double-double outings from both Knight and Monroe in a 117-99 dousing of Cleveland. They also played without Jose Calderon – a player who also will help fill Prince’s decision-making void – as he works to resolve a visa issue.

Continue Reading Knight, Monroe Shine>>

Posted Friday, February 1, 2013

When the Pistons played at Toronto in December, Jose Calderon carved them up with 17 assists and just two turnovers. Since the 1985-86 season, only one other player has given the franchise such a game: Isiah Thomas. He was pretty good, wasn’t he?

The Pistons aren’t expecting 17 assists out of Calderon on a regular basis, but his history suggests the occasional big number overlaying a steady output of ball distribution against a backdrop of meticulous care of the basketball. For his career, Calderon averages 7.2 assists and 1.7 turnovers; this season indicates not a trace of dropoff with 7.4 assists and 1.7 turnovers. If the guy was any steadier, he’d be a metronome.

Frank is deeply respectful of all NBA players – he knows that even the last guy on the worst team’s roster ranks among the 99th percentile of basketball players across the globe – but it struck me last month, both before and after the game, how glowingly he spoke of Calderon, mildly scolding the Toronto media for what he perceived as their underestimation of the player in their midst.

Continue Reading Frank: On Calderon>>

Posted Friday, February 1, 2013

Jose Calderon knows Joe Dumars had tried to trade for him in the past, so he understands he comes to the Pistons for reasons that go beyond his status as a player with an expiring contract. And that’s a big first step in feeling at home in new surroundings after spending his entire NBA career in Toronto.

“It’s kind of like a double side,” Calderon said after Friday’s shootaround. “I was kind of sad with eight years in the same place, working with a lot of people for all those years, so that’s the sad part. Weird feeling, never had it before. But I’m excited. I’m really happy to be here. I know Detroit has tried to trade for me for a while, so I’m really happy to be in a situation with a team that really wants you and I’m really happy to start a new part of my career – really happy.”

Calderon drove from Toronto to Detroit on Thursday, getting grilled by a U.S. Customs agent at the border. Dumars told the story Friday, talking about the suspicion with which Calderon felt he was being subjected to as the process dragged on and he explained his status as a Spanish citizen working in Canada but having been traded to a United States-based basketball team.

Continue Reading Calderon: On Becoming a Piston>

Posted Friday, February 1, 2013

When the Pistons shipped Ben Gordon to Charlotte last June for Corey Maggette, Joe Dumars was open about the motivation for the trade: Sure, they liked Maggette’s track record as an attack-mentality scorer, but mostly it was about his expiring contract. Not the case with Jose Calderon, who also hits free agency in July.

“Yeah, this is (different),” he said Friday. “We’ve tried to acquire him several times from Toronto over the years and were very close a couple of times. This is someone we’ve had high regard for for a while because we just really like his skill set and we thought his skill set could be a very good match with the young guys we have.”

And when July 1 rolls around?

“I think we’ve got 35 or so games left,” Dumars said. “We like him. This is someone we’d have interest in staying with going forward.”

Continue Reading Joe D: On the Trade>>