This season has been a "body-saving" one for Corey Maggette.
The veteran guard has bounced around the league for more than a decade now, haunted perhaps by his penchant for taking a lot of shots to score his points and various injuries. This summer he, and his expiring contract, were traded from Charlotte to Detroit in the Ben Gordon deal.
It seemed when that deal was made, Maggette had become what every veteran fears — a contract more than a player, filler needed to make a deal work between two teams.
Never mind that Maggette is a career 16.0 point-per-game scorer and averaged 15.0 points per game (on a career-low 37.3 percent shooting) last year for Charlotte. He seemed to still have basketball in him if a team would give him a chance.
That is what Maggette is hoping for. Like I said, this is a body-saving year as Maggette has played in only 18 games this season, averaging 5.3 points per game, the first season he has averaged fewer than 10.0 points per game since his rookie season in Orlando way back in 2000.
Maggette has not played since mid-December but he hopes he can be part of the Pistons future. He told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that he has enjoyed taking on the role of veteran for the young Pistons team and hopes he can take on that role in the future:
Another option still is for me to be a veteran for these guys and come back here another year. That's another possibility because we have a lot of young talent here and still need a veteran to talk to, and I know I've gained the respect of those guys and I'll be able to do that.
We'll see what happens after that.
The Pistons are wary at this point. Nobody is quite sure what kind of market Maggette will get. He will be taking a significant paycut as his $48 million, five-year deal expires this summer.
Maggette is undoubtedly a gifted scorer, efficiency has always been his problem. The question is whether the 33 year old will be able to contribute like that again next year after virtually taking this entire season off.
Maggette has had some highlights, but has seen very little success as far as team highlights. He been to the Playoffs just once in his career. Whether Maggette can play next year might depend on what he wants to do. If he wants to mentor young players, another year in Detroit might be the ticket.
The new reality of free agency might squeeze Maggette out of the league unless he is willing to take a minimum deal or a very short-term contract.