No dice to going elsewhere
McDyess remained loyal to the Pistons
The possibility of playing for the Celtics, Lakers, or Cavaliers surely was tempting. And considering his adoration for one of his former coaches, Larry Brown, the possibility of going to play for the struggling Bobcats wasn't out of the realm of possibility.
But when it came time to determine where he should go, Antonio McDyess said loyalty was the main reason he returned to Detroit, as the Pistons were one of the few teams that offered him a contract (four years, $23 million) five years ago, when most had given up on him after he suffered knee injuries.
"After I got injured, my name wasn't said or mentioned," said McDyess. "[Pistons president of basketball operations] Joe [Dumars] gave me an opportunity to revamp my career. My career was at the bottom and this man offered me a contract at the midlevel exception even though I had done nothing for two years.
"Boston and Cleveland showed interest. [Celtics president] Danny Ainge was there. There will always be a bond with me and [those teams] and Detroit. But I was at the bottom and [the Pistons] offered me this? I owed them. If they wanted me back, I'm back."
McDyess arrived in Detroit for the 2004-05 season, after the Pistons won the 2004 championship. The Pistons haven't won an NBA title since, despite being in the Eastern Conference finals each year, and only returned to the NBA Finals in 2005.
McDyess, guard Chauncey Billups, and center Cheikh Samb were sent to Denver by the Pistons Nov. 3 in exchange for guard Allen Iverson. After two previous stints with the Nuggets, the 34-year-old McDyess had no interest in returning to Denver and asked for a buyout of the nearly $15 million remaining on his contract. The Nuggets obliged Nov. 12, paying McDyess $3.2 million this season and $2.8 million next season. While the Nuggets saved millions, keeping McDyess might have made them a title contender.
While nearly 20 teams inquired about his services, McDyess said he was only seriously interested in Boston, the Lakers, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Detroit. McDyess said he received calls from Ainge, who coached him in Phoenix, and Sam Cassell. While the Celtics, Lakers, and Cavaliers are considered the three front-runners to win the NBA championship, McDyess didn't want to "chase a ring," and has no regrets returning to the inconsistent Pistons. The Celtics play the Pistons for the first time since McDyess's return Friday in Detroit.
"I have no regrets," said McDyess, who re-signed with the Pistons Dec. 9. "Just by getting to the NBA I accomplished more than enough for me. I've played on good teams. I've had great teammates. I can free my mind without a championship. It could have been better, it could have been worse. I didn't want to feel like I was chasing a ring.
"It's about winning a championship and being comfortable where I'm at. One year and I'm done [on a new team]? I didn't want to chase a ring. I'm comfortable, and that is not to say we don't have a chance to win it. Anything can happen in the playoffs. I'm just comfortable where I'm at now."
There were reports out of Detroit that McDyess didn't want to come to Boston because of a near fight with Kevin Garnett during a game two years ago when Garnett was playing for the Timberwolves. McDyess scoffed at that notion.
"That's far from the case," McDyess said. "That's squashed. Everything that happened was basketball-related and has been squashed. I love KG as a player and a person. Why wouldn't I go there to play with him? He's the best power forward in the game. A Hall of Famer. When things happened two years ago, it was all about basketball. You don't take that home with you."
McDyess is being paid $600,532 by the Pistons for the remainder of this season, and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. While the 6-foot-9-inch, 245-pounder is expected to re-sign with Detroit, he acknowledged he would listen if the Celtics showed interest.
"Would I listen?" he said. "That's a no-brainer. Oh, yeah."
Forecast calls for starry night
Expect the debates to be as strong as ever Thursday when the All-Star reserves are announced. One thing to keep an eye on is whether the Suns, who will host the game Feb. 15, get three All-Stars despite having a record that wouldn't get them into the playoffs.
The Suns (23-18) have the ninth-best record in the West, and have lost five of six.
Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire was announced as an All-Star starter Thursday, beating out the likes of Denver's Carmelo Anthony, Dallas's Dirk Nowitzki, the Lakers' Pau Gasol, and Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge.
Suns center Shaquille O'Neal and guard Steve Nash are candidates to be named as reserves, but are far from locks. The conference head coaches select the reserves.
"We probably could [get three]," Stoudemire said. "I think we can. Shaq, Steve, and myself, we are all All-Stars in our own minds. It's up to the coaching staff to vote us on."
O'Neal's strong play since December will aid his chances of being named over Minnesota's Al Jefferson, Utah's Mehmet Okur, and Denver's Nene. Nash has been an All-Star every year since 2002. The two-time MVP is averaging 13.9 points and 9.1 assists - his lowest scoring average since 1999-2000 and lowest assist average since 2003-04.
Other West guards being considered for All-Star spots include Utah's Deron Williams, Denver's Chauncey Billups, San Antonio's Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and Portland's Brandon Roy.
"Steve and Shaq is a given," said Stoudemire. "Two vets. Two perennial All-Stars. Two MVPs. That's a no-brainer if you ask me."
While Toronto forward Jermaine O'Neal and Miami forward Shawn Marion have been mentioned in the hottest rumors and could, in fact, be traded for each other, there are several other intriguing names being tossed around. Keep an eye on Toronto's Anthony Parker and Joey Graham, Minnesota's Mike Miller, Oklahoma City's Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox, Chicago's Larry Hughes and Andres Nocioni, Cleveland's Wally Szczerbiak, Dallas's Jerry Stackhouse, New Jersey's Bobby Simmons, and Washington's Etan Thomas.
"A lot of people are trying to make trades hoping to get an extra boost," one executive said.
Said the other executive, "Teams are looking to save money, get a good young prospect, and get draft picks."
Despite recently landing center Johan Petro from the Thunder, the Nuggets made that move primarily to get under the luxury tax and are in the market for another big man. Regardless of whether they acquire one, the Nuggets will likely return to luxury tax territory when guard J.R. Smith reaches contract incentives.
One of the executives said the Bulls are in "shopping mode" to lower their payroll. Also, a proposed Hughes-for-Simmons deal seems to have little life.
While a lot of college freshmen have entered the NBA draft in recent years, the 2009 draft is starting to be viewed as strong with upperclassmen. Several upperclassmen, including Thabeet, Davidson's Stephen Curry, Louisville's Earl Clark, North Carolina's Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson, and Arizona's Chase Budinger, took their names out of the draft last year in large part because of the number of freshman prospects.
Marc J. Spears can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org