Clippers Off-Season Target: F Tayshaun Prince


Who Is He?

Name: Tayshaun Prince

Position: Small Forward

Experience: 13 years

Height: 6’9

Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

2014-15 Stats: 58 games, 7.5 points, 44% shooting, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 12.0 PER

Free Agency Situation

Of the four small forwards under contract by seasons end with the Detroit Pistons (Butler, Prince, Miller, Williams), only Tayshaun Prince is a free agent (unrestricted), and what Prince can provide to the franchise in his 14th season the Pistons can get in a joint effort from those forwards. Need shooting? Caron Butler can fulfill that need, as well as providing a veteran presence in a young locker room. They’ve youth and athleticism, what Prince doesn’t provide, with ’14-15 D-League standout Quincy Miller and Shawne Williams, albeit not that talented, can be a cheap shooting option after shooting 36% from three this past season.

The draft is another route the Pistons could improve the small forward position. With the no.8 overall pick, one of Justise Winslow (unlikely unless DET trades up), Mario Hezonja, Stanley Johnson, or Kelly Oubre could be selected.

Most importantly, mid-season, when Prince was looking to escape in order to latch onto a contending team (likely the Clippers), team president and coach Stan Van Gundy refuses to buyout Prince meaning the relationship there isn’t well between the two parties despite a history between Prince, the city, and the franchise.

Highlight of Choice

What The Internet is Saying

Although Tayshaun Prince provided some length to the Grizzlies, his lack of athleticism and offensive abilities hurt rather than helped the team. When his role was reduced this season, it only made sense for the Grizzlies to trade him away and try to gain some more offensive firepower. Tayshaun did have slightly better stats this year with the Grizz than last season, when he averaged 6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists, but it still wasn’t enough. Memories of Prince’s time in Memphis will always be mixed, but his professionalism and chemistry with his teammates will always be in a positive light.GrizzlyBearBlues

Much like the team’s other veterans, Prince became a leader in the locker room and bought into Stan Van Gundy’s system, and helped the team’s other deadline acquisition, Reggie Jackson, find his groove in the Motor City. Whilst many didn’t understand the trade or expect the NBA Champion to perform well in productive minutes, Prince proved the doubters wrong, and was one, if not the, best small forward to log time for the Pistons this season.DetroitBadBoys

On the Floor

Feb 11, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Tayshaun Prince (12) is congratulated by fans after the game against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated Atlanta 89-88. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Do you really think Doc is gonna shy away from signing “savvy” veterans after doing so in back-to-back seasons? I don’t, which leads me to Prince being a player who could wind up wearing a Clippers jersey once October/November hits.

You don’t expect much from Prince on the offensive end of the floor. In the half-court, Prince can be a spotty initiator. He can sometimes knock down the outside shot (46.3% from three last season) — especially from the corner (51.1% on 47 attempts) — despite his presence cramping up spacing. When players run Prince off the three-point line, he can step into his pet mid-range shot (40.2% on 189 attempts). And he knows how to remain in the flow of an offense, as seen during his days in Memphis.

Ideally, this is what the Clippers need alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the starting lineup as Matt Barnes is mostly a cut-and-spot-up guy (and has been for most of his career). But Prince, altogether, is mediocre to below average, finding his spots every once in a while — and honestly, you don’t want a lot of Prince on offense unless the teams top-10 players have mysteriously disappeared.

One of Prince’s best assets? His passing. In most situations Prince won’t draw the full attention of defenses due to him being a low-level threat in comparison to other players on the floor, but he’s made a living being a glue guy in offenses and that includes being a solid playmaker, as seen here in the pass to Quincy Pondexter.

Defensively? Prince lacks the athleticism that made him an elite defensive wing many fortnights ago. In a league littered with athletic wings at every corner turned, this is a problem.

This past season, the Pistons were worse defensively with Prince playing — 106.6 defensive rating with Prince on the floor; 102.7 with Prince off the floor. In Memphis, the Grizzlies were worse defensively with Prince playing — 104.0 defensive rating with Prince of the floor; 101.6 rating with Prince off the floor. In Boston, the Celtics performed better with Prince on the floor but between the eye test and different assortment of numbers, the numbers from Memphis/Detroit are a better representative of late-career Prince’s defense.

This hasn’t stopped Prince from knowing where to be and when to be there on defense — his body may be fading but his brain is still intact. That counts for something in the grand scheme of things as the inability to physically defend and keep up with players combined with not knowing how to defend players, their tendencies, etc. is a putrid collection of skills to have — Prince is only the former, and compared to Hedo Turkoglu, he’s Matt Barnes on that end.

Chance of Signing

Very high.

I can’t imagine there being a ton of teams lined up to sign Prince, including the Detroit Pistons. But with the Clippers having interest in the forward this past season and Prince playing decent for his age, he could be the prototypical Hedo Turkoglu replacement — doesn’t play when the team is healthy, but when depleted he steps into a minuscule role.

Well, if he doesn’t retire.

Next: Clippers' focus on the NBA Draft shows their evolving mindset