Three years ago, Austin Daye was drafted out of Gonzaga with a prototypical skill set. He's really tall (6'11") and he could shoot the three-ball, which on paper made him a perfect fit for the increasingly valuable "stretch four" role that's overcome the league. But instead of taking advantage of his abilities and evolving into the type of player teams all across the league are currently salivating for—think Ryan Anderson; both players are 24 years old—Daye has struggled mightily.
Playing out last season on a poor Detroit Pistons team, Daye found himself in and (mostly) out of the rotation. His three-point shooting dropped from 40.1% in 2010/11 to 21% in 2011/12, where he shot just 32.2% overall. Daye started just four games and faced constant trade rumors throughout the year.
In April, Daye sat down with Hoopsworld.com's Steve Kyler to talk about his future with Detroit, which as of today looks bleak. Daye said he didn't think he had found a role with the team, and that the chances of him establishing one in the year ahead would most likely be predicated on his health as well as the possibility of a teammate or two ahead of him on the depth chart going down with an injury.
Instead of giving their project some room to breathe and improve, Detroit made the puzzling decision to re-sign longtime Piston Tayshaun Prince to a new four-year deal, hurting Daye's already low confidence. Both players have identical skill sets which calls into question how exactly Pistons general manager Joe Dumars views Daye in terms of his future with the team.
His $2.96MM team option was exercised for the upcoming season, so he'll be back at least one more year, but after that Daye has a $4.14MM qualifying offer. Despite averaging just 5.9PPG in his three season career, Daye's body type and age make him an interesting prospect for teams searching for a diamond in the rough. If the Pistons choose not to extend Daye beyond next year, it most certainly won't be for as much as the four-year, $36MM deal Anderson was just given by the Hornets. In fact, this season should go a long way in deciding if his current contract will also be his last.