The Detroit Pistons have had a very efficient and effective offseason thus far, but have one key decision left to be made: Do they resign starting center Chris Webber? The answer is no. Despite the misconception that it was Webber that propelled the Pistons to the Central Division crown, he was merely another pawn that ultimately slowed them down come playoff time with his aging knees and inability to defend against anyone but Michael Doleac in the post. Webber has demonstrated throughout his career his continued inability to deliver on the big stage, whether it be (cover your ears Michigan fans) the Infamous Timeout or the continued no-show performances while with the Sacremento Kings in pivotal playoff games. While his passing and experience seemed like intangibles that no other big man on the roster brought to the table, it would be far more beneficial to the franchise if they give his opportunities to the developing youth already waiting on the end of their bench.
With an aging frontcourt, the Pistons have already cut ties with veteran Dale Davis and must do the same with Webber. They have plenty of depth up front with veterans Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Nazr Mohammad, Antonio McDyess, and talented youngsters Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson, and Cheick Samb. Bringing back CWebb would only further limit the valuable minutes that can be handed to Maxiell and Johnson, while further banning the servicable Mohammad to the bench.
Despite the fact that the Pistons surged out to a 16-6 record with Nazr Mohammad pairing with Rasheed Wallace as the starters down low last year, he was inexlicably sent to the bench and often seen on the court during garbage time in the latter parts of the season. This unfathomable coaching decision came as a shock to the league, not only because Mohammad was just signed to a 5 yr/$40M deal to be Ben Wallace’s replacement, but he has also won an NBA title as a starting center in San Antonio all while making a solid career for himself as a complimentary big man in the paint.
Aside from the mistreatment of Nazr by the Piston coaching staff, they also have two reasons to believe in turning Webber’s minutes over to their unproven . In 67 games last year, Jason Maxiell averaged 17.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per 48 minutes in his first season as a rotation man. Amir Johnson was an NBDL sensation, that averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.14 blocks in 35.1 minutes per game. He was called up to Detroit later in the season for 8 games, only to average 18.0 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 5.0 blocks per 48 minutes on the big club.
The Pistons have the all the talent they need in their young bigs waiting in the wings. It is time to say goodbye to Mr. Webber, thank him for his heartfelt return to his hometown Detroit, and get the future of the Detroit frontcourt checked in and ready to ‘Go To Work.’