Detroit Pistons

Beyond reasonable doubt

Only a couple days ago, the Pistons were in the Finals. Only this time, Detroit was competing for free agent Michael Finley. They didn’t land Fin, but the Pistons still were winners this offseason.This morning’s news:

"The Pistons are out of free-agency shopping mode, thanks to adding experienced center Dale Davis to the roster." – Joanne C. Gerstner / The Detroit News

Preconceived notions are dangerous things.

If only The Detroit News had a mulligan when it posted this statement on its website in the middle of the night.

It all started when the Pistons signed Dale Davis. Tuesday, Detroit President Joe Dumars inked the 36-year-old Davis to a two-year, $7 million contract. The team used part of its mid-level exception to sign Davis and cancelled its appointment scheduled for the next day with uber-amnesty adjunct Michael Finley.

It led Gerstner to be misled.

The statement was NOT made with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. To say the team was "out of free-agency shopping mode" might’ve been a little too early, a little to preconceived.

Actually, the Pistons were in the very middle of their free-agency shopping mode. Signing Davis was just part of the plan. In the NBA, the middle level exception can go a long way and in several directions.

After Detroit chose to take a slice out of its MLE to ink Davis, all the pundits began posting. If followed very closely, Wednesday’s events could be pieced together to prove even news can be new to everyone…even Pistons executives.

Let’s piece this all together.
Updated: Aug. 24, 2005, 12:25 AM ET

"The Detroit Pistons, believing they weren’t high enough on Finley’s list to wait on a maybe, passed on their Chicago invite after committing to sign Dale Davis."

The Worldwide Leader was up late for this one.

In the middle of the night, ESPN’s Marc Stein updates his article on the Finley saga in just the smallest manner. A list of four suitors just was cut down by one. Wednesday, Finley has a day off in his home town.

Everyone close to the situation seems to believe Finley will be back in the Phoenix’s orange and purple next season. It’s just taking an NBA eternity to report with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Detroit News
Updated: August 24, 2005, 1:19 AM ET

"So what is the next order of business? Starting negotiations with forward Tayshaun Prince’s agent regarding a long-term deal."

The next order of business? Really?

The League’s highest paid anorexic/budding defensive stopper, Tayshaun Prince, is entering his final year of his rookie contract next season. His payoff?

A cool $1.7 million.

For a long time, the entire Detroit organization has made it country-night-sky clear that they want Prince to be a long-time Piston. And, witnessing this summer’s events, two words became very scary for Detroit brass:

Joe Johnson.

"It’s certainly on our radar for priority," said John Hammond, the Pistons’ vice president of basketball operations. "We’d like to get something done by training camp."

But is Prince the only thing on the radar?
Updated: Aug, 24 2005, 11:13 AM ET

"The Detroit Pistons have been one of the best NBA teams at finding top-flight talent at a bargain basement price. They may have found another gem in restricted free agent Maurice Evans, who will be offered a multiyear contract as early as today."

Not exactly the first place to look for the news, but the site dubbed "Everything Michigan" first broaches the news.

A strong, young, high-energy Evans will backup Prince at the three and Rip Hamilton at the two.

The Pistons’ three-year, $4.5 million-dollar offer is believed to be guaranteed for the first two years, with a team option for the third.

Detroit got the perfect player and, more importantly, the perfect contract.

Sacramento Bee
UPDATED: Aug. 24, 2005, 5:48 pm ET

"Despite Evans’ status as a restricted free agent of the Kings, team president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said the lack of any more salary cap exceptions means they are unable to match any offer above the approximately $895,000 they offered the 26-year-old in late June. Translation: No mo’ Mo."

Who needs seven days to make a decision when only seven hours are needed?

In only a couple hours, Mo is official in Mo-Town and all sides are happy, save possibly the Kings. So now for the REAL question:

Is Davis + Evans > Finley?

Preconceived notions are dangerous things. What if the Pistons stayed in the Finley sweepstakes? Maybe Fin got accustomed to warm weather in Dallas and still signs with Phoenix. Maybe Davis signs with Seattle or Cleveland. Maybe Evans signs with San Antonio.

Maybe the Pistons knew their chances to sign Finley were very small even if they kept an unchaste MLE. Maybe two key role players could better serve a team 12 minutes short of a second consecutive championship than one aging star. Maybe the Pistons did the right thing.

Maybe Finley wanted to play in Detroit.

In the media business, you can’t always be sure beyond a reasonable doubt.

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