The Detroit Pistons made a big move on Wednesday. They chose to strip away the last vestige of the 2003-04 NBA Championship squad when they shipped Tayshaun Prince to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a three-team deal that will bring Jose Calderon and long-term salary cap relief to Detroit.
The move helped the Pistons shed a $7.7 million commitment in 2014-15 by turning Prince's deal into Calderon's expiring contract, but the move wasn't entirely about the money. Calderon may turn out to be the pure point guard the Pistons need, but the real subtext to the deal is that the Pistons know they are in no position to give a veteran like Prince the opportunity to go on a deep playoff run over the next two years.
After 10 years together, Prince and the Pistons can part ways on good terms. He helped the team dominate the Eastern Conference for nearly half a decade, and after the 03-04 championship run he stuck around while team fixtures like Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Mehmet Okur all moved on to other teams. Despite the lack of recent success, Prince didn't pout about wanting out like Rip Hamilton did two years ago. Two weeks ago, he said the trade rumors didn't bother him at all.
Now he's moving on to Memphis for a shot at postseason glory again, and his mark on the Pistons franchise is a big one. Prince earned NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors for four consecutive years from 2004-05 to 2007-08 during his career with the Pistons. Here is a broad look at his legacy in Detroit, via the team press release after the trade announcement:
Prince, drafted 23rd overall by the Pistons in the 2002 NBA Draft, has averages of 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 769 career games (730 starts). He averaged a career-high 14.7 points during the 2004-05 season and has scored 1,000-plus points in a season six times. The 6-foot-9 forward ranks fifth all-time in franchise history in games played (769), eighth in points scored (9,838), 10th in assists (2,036), fifth in three-point field goals made (499) and seventh in blocks (440). A member of the Pistons' 2003-04 NBA Championship team, Prince was also a member of the USA Senior National Team that went 8-0 to win the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
This GIF from SB Nation NBA's coverage of the games on Wednesday night sums everything up perfectly for the Pistons. Prince is worth celebrating, and he should be remembered fondly in Motown, but there comes a time when it's best for everyone to move on:
Detroit Bad Boys covered the trade of Prince nicely on Wednesday, and put together an excellent combination of quotes from Prince (who said he was "shocked"), Pistons president of operations Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank. Be sure to check that out for more reaction to the deal.