Apr 17, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT
Greg Monroe has played for four coaches in four years. The man who drafted him, Joe Dumars, has been pushed out as general manager. In the Pistons’ best season with Monroe, they went 25-41.
Yet, through all the chaos, Monroe – a pending restricted free agent – has developed into a steady 15-9 player.
But that doesn’t mean he’s ignored the problems surrounding him.
Monroe was asked if the Pistons had good locker-room chemistry this season, which ended Wednesday with a 112-111 loss at Oklahoma City.
“Honestly, I would say no,” he answered.
Pressed for what the problem was, Monroe retreated.
“I will answer the question,” he said, “but I wouldn’t go further than that.”
“I don’t really like to say things that are controversial, even though sometimes it may be needed,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s beneficial. I believe, as a team, we should be able to talk. But in this platform, I don’t think some stuff should be said, even though some people always choose to do it.”
“I’ve censored myself, just because of the whole, so much speculation and so much stuff going on,” Monroe said. “I just tried to make sure I was as productive as possible. That I kept a straight head and kept it as positive as possible.”
Earlier this season, Brandon Jennings said the Pistons don’t hold themselves accountable and implied Josh Smith didn’t speak up enough. Those two, who possess reputations for being moody, quite likely factor into the locker-room disharmony.
But whatever problems existed off the court, the Pistons had enough on-the-court issues to last a lifetime (not that the two are unrelated). Among teams actually vying for the playoffs this season, only the Lakers finished worse. Detroit couldn’t even catch the Knicks or Cavaliers.
The Pistons’ heavily used big-three lineup – featuring Smith, Monroe and Andre Drummond – never clicked. Jennings shot terribly, as did Smith. Few players showed sustained interest in defending.
Winning builds chemistry, and vice versa. The Pistons had neither, snowballing the negative effects of lacking both.
The Pistons have plenty of avenues to get better next season. Stagger the minutes of the bigs. Hire a new coach. Spend about $10 million in available cap room and then re-sign Monroe, who deserves a larger offensive role at the expense of Smith.
On-court play could improve quickly, and if it does, I suspect the locker-room chemistry will, too.
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