NBA Free Agents: Rodney Stuckey Looks To Continue Rise, But Where?

BOSTON MA - JANUARY 19: Rodney Stuckey #3 of the Detroit Pistons drives to the net as Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics defends on January 19 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston Massachusetts. 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 Elsa/Getty Images)

Rodney Stuckey has seemingly been replaced by the Detroit Pistons, which throws the combo guard's free agency into great mystery.

Rodney Stuckey finally began to put it all together last season with the Detroit Pistons. Billed as a younger version of Chauncey Billups -- strong, confident, a little oversized but still quick -- Stuckey had struggled to replace the Detroit Pistons' legend early in his career. But in 2010-11, Stuckey made real strides. Unfortunately, the franchise was burning down around him.

As a result of the team's dramatic fall from grace over the past few years (all of which with Stuckey in the backcourt driver's seat), the Pistons turned to a new Billups replacement in Brandon Knight in the 2011 NBA Draft. Knight's a slimmer, more athletic version of the tall point guard, but like Billups and Stuckey projects as a shoot-first type (which is perfectly fine in today's NBA, especially considering Detroit has the flexible Greg Monroe slotted for the next 15 years up front). Knight's arrival doesn't exactly push Stuckey out -- BK was the youngest player in the entire draft -- but it certainly has to make the Pistons question how much to spend to retain Stuck as he reaches restricted free agency.

That could be the saving grace for the Pistons-Stuckey marriage: Joe Dumars has long been a master of using restricted free agent to keep his own players cheap. No one likes to tie up their cap space for a player they have little chance of landing, so Dumars makes it clear he'll match all offers. The player ends up cutting a deal with the Pistons instead of seeking offers. Joe D. may have struggled in recent years, but he knows this game well.

As to what teams should be making a push for Stuckey: he'd be great in Dallas, Toronto, New York, Utah, L.A. (both teams) or Orlando. Most of those teams have just the mid-level to play with, creating an artificial cap on the types of offers Stuck could get. Regardless, assuming he and the Pistons don't find common ground quickly, it should be an interesting free agent period for the guard.

For more on the Pistons, visit Detroit Bad Boys.

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