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The future isn't so bright for the Pistons

May 26, 2010, 11:39 AM EDT

NBA_gordon1_250.jpgThe Detroit Pistons are in a heap of trouble. They may have the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft, but they’re also locked into a roster that was good enough to tie for 13th in the Eastern Conference this season. There will be some growth with some of the younger players on the roster (Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, and Austin Daye, mainly), but with no Piston expected to make a significant jump any time soon, Joe Dumars had better hope that he doesn’t botch this year’s lottery pick. Or, as they say in NBA circles, “He had better not Milicic it.”

That’s a bit of pressure to produce with a decent (but not surefire) pick, but Dumars deserves no sympathy for the position that he and his team are in this summer. Remember, Joe D constructed this team with his bare hands. It was he that traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson and struck out on the Darko pick.

On the bright side for Pistons fans, Dumars thinks he has identified the problem. From the Associated Press:

“Any time you don’t have the season you expect, there is going to be
disappointment,” Dumars, the president of basketball operations, said
Tuesday in his annual postseason meeting with the media. “This is the
first time in a decade that we’ve had a season like this, and we
learned a lot from the experience.”

Dumars won two championships as a player on teams that were built
around defense and hard work, then built the 2004 title winners in the
same mold, but didn’t see that intensity this year.

“We had some
slippage in terms of the toughness and grit that we’ve had for the last
10 years,” Dumars said. “We drifted some from what we were when we were
successful.”

That’s an interesting response. What Dumars diagnoses as a lack of toughness, I call “signing Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon and paying them a combined $95.7 million over the next four seasons.” To-may-to, to-mah-to, really. Also, being 21st in the league in offense and 26th in defense last season (in terms of points and points allowed per 100 possessions)? Probably not helping, and only tangentially related to toughness.

Detroit could theoretically have an opening to improve in 2011-2012 after the Pistons shed Tayshaun Prince’s $11 million contract, but even then they’re looking at $45 million in guaranteed salary. That number doesn’t include an extended Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum (a free agent this year), Jonas Jerebko, DaJuan Summers, or anyone capable of playing center. The financial outlook doesn’t look any better in 2012-2013 either, as the Pistons have no notable salary coming off the books prior to that season.

Things could be pretty bad for quite some time in Detroit if the roster is left to develop organically. With the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft, the Pistons are slated to select someone in the general vicinity of Cole Aldrich (according to Draft Express) or possibly DeMarcus Cousins (according to NBADraft.net). Either one of those players would be very helpful, but they’re not bringing the Pistons out of the basement.

I’m glad Dumars has “toughness” as his talking point, because he’ll have plenty of time to practice and repeat it over the next three seasons.  

  1. Jubilee - May 26, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    hey rob. not to try to discredit your authority here, but a player coming off the books in a situation where team payroll is somewhere between the salary cap and tax line doesn’t necessarily put the team in a position to improve. for instance, if the pistons were to relinquish their rights to tayshaun and let him expire (something you seem to be alluding to, and something that is 100% certain not to happen), they won’t have enough cap space to do much; i won’t go do the math, but it probably leaves them with less than the midlevel exception to spend on a free agent. money simply coming off the books only really helps a team when it’s a LOT of money or they’re near or around the cap as it is. before rasheed and iverson came off the books, we were just shy of the tax line, and their combined $35 million salaries gave us something like $21 million in cap space. tayshaun’s $11 million isn’t going to give us that much to spend on a free agent. i shouldn’t have to explain this to rob mahoney, but here we are. aside from the fact that joe dumars would never allow prince’s contract to expire (he’ll either trade him before the deadline or work out a sign-and-trade. there’s a less-than-minute chance that joe extends him at the right price, but he won’t let the contract expire). the fact that we have $45 million on the books without including bynum, stuckey, jerebko, summers or any big men says it all. bottom line: salary coming off the books does nothing for us right now.

  2. MobTown - May 26, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    OH SNAP, when did Rasheed Iverson come to Detroit?

  3. Jubilee - May 26, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    the word “and” has meaning, genius.

  4. MobTown - May 28, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    Thanks for clarifying, but since you read the article 2 hours after my posting, the writer went back and fixed it.
    In his original posting there was no AND, Genius. “It was he that traded Chauncey Billups for Rasheed Iverson”
    So, in fact “and” has no meaning in this context, unless he traded chauncey for Rasheed and Iverson. But, as any genius would know, it’s impossible to trade somebody on the same team.
    Thanks for “trying” to be a dick though. I succeeded, and you failed.

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