Beard: Pistons should consider adding Ray McCallum

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Ray McCallum

Auburn Hills — Following Saturday night’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Pistons were on a three-game win streak and trending back toward the playoffs, following a skid that dropped them out of the eighth spot.

The road win over the Cavaliers last week provided a boost — and they followed with victories over the 76ers and Bucks to get back close to the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference.

“You need every win you can get,” coach Stan Van Gundy said Sunday. “Clearly, every game is really important right now.”

With six weeks left in the season, the Pistons are still in the thick of the postseason race, but will need to string some wins together to stay there.

News: The Pistons are in the midst of a string of seven of nine games on the road.

Views: The win over the Bucks was a pleasant start, but they’ll have a more favorable string of games — with nine straight at The Palace — if they’re able to get through the next stretch at around .500. That won’t be easy, though, as they’ll travel to face the Spurs on Wednesday and the Knicks on Saturday, followed by a four-game trek to the Mavericks, Hornets, 76ers and Wizards in a six-day span.

There’s no such thing as winnable or unwinnable games for the Pistons anymore — all of their games fall into both categories now. Expectations are higher because they’ve beaten Cleveland twice and Golden State, becoming the only team in the league to complete that feat.

News: The San Antonio Spurs are expected to waive point guard Ray McCallum (Detroit) to make room for veteran Andre Miller.

Views: The Pistons might want to take a strong look at picking up McCallum, if he becomes available. McCallum has local ties, having played in high school at Detroit Country Day and under his father at the University of Detroit.

McCallum was a second-round pick in the 2013 draft by the Kings and in his third season has enough experience (144 games) that he could help the Pistons’ backcourt get younger and more athletic.

In his time with the Kings, he averaged 6.9 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds. In 31 games this season with the Spurs, including three starts, McCallum’s numbers dropped to 2.2 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

Although Van Gundy said last week the Pistons’ bigger need was in the frontcourt, the opportunity to get a young player like McCallum could prove difficult to pass up. In the quest to get the team younger, McCallum, 24, could be a solid bench piece for years to come.

News: In his first four games with the Pistons, Tobias Harris averaged 17.6 points.

Views: The early returns on Harris have been good, as he’s been a solid addition. Replacing Ersan Ilyasova in the starting lineup, he’s been solid on help defense and has been another option inside the 3-point arc.

Harris has a fluid offensive game and can either face up or hit from the wings. That bodes well for the Pistons, giving them another slashing scoring option to complement Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He’s also shown good chemistry with Marcus Morris in the frontcourt.

The trade with the Orlando Magic was made for the long-term benefit of Harris’ contract, but he’s already paying dividends with his play on the court. He can play either forward position and makes them more athletic in transition.

The future looks good for the Pistons, with a young core that will grow together and likely will only get better as they build more chemistry.