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Part 1: How sunk costs should color an evaluation of Joe Dumars

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

One argument I frequently hear in favor of keeping Dumars is: “Where would the Pistons find a replacement who has built a championship-winning team like Dumars has?”

They wouldn’t find someone, but that’s not the point.

Dumars’ championship is a positive indicator of his skills as a general manager, but the 2004 title also is a sunk cost. It can’t be taken away. It happened in the past. And it has no direct effect on Dumars’ current job.

Again, Dumars deserves to list the 2004 title proudly on his resume. It’s a tremendous accomplishment that speaks strongly to his general-managing bona fides.

But it’s not proof he can do it again. The goal is to find a general manager who can construct the Pistons’ next championship, not its previous championship. Maybe that’s Dumars, and maybe it’s not.

Dumars’ title came so unconventionally that it’s possible that his approach won’t work again.

But other than Wallace, Dumars has shown little aptitude for acquiring a superstar, a nearly necessary step for winning a championship.

Dumars refuses to tank seasons, keeping the Pistons out of the top part of the draft where most superstars are chosen. In free agency, Dumars has signed less-than-max-level players such as Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Josh Smith. Hopefully, Smith turns out better than Gordon and Villanueva, but he is extremely unlikely to develop into a superstar.

There is some value in going against the grain. Not competing with tanking teams for the best odds at the No. 1 pick and not competing with teams pursuing max-level free agents has allowed Dumars to explore other, underutilized markets.

It’s a difficult approach to manage and, quite arguably, the wrong one for the Pistons.

How much credit does Dumars deserve for building the 2004 championship-winning Pistons? All of it. That’s one of the most meticulously assembled title teams of all time, and Dumars handled every transaction along the way.

But how much should that title influence how the Pistons, objectively, view Dumars now? Only somewhat. The fact that Dumars constructed a championship team is a positive indicator to his abilities, but not a defining one.

Part 2 will run the Free Press next week, and it uses sunk costs to create an argument for Dumars keeping his job.

170 Comments

  • Aug 23, 20133:18 pm
    by Crispus

    Reply

    That seems like a specious use of the concept of “sunk cost”. Stuckey and Villanueva are “sunk costs” Joe Dumars’ championship is a “past achievement”. Costs are (negative) commitments or outlays, championships are non-financial, mostly emotional (positive) events. I don’t see how you can conflate the two so easily.
     
    Why do a two-part article when almost every single paragraph is a counterpoint to the last one? It’s hard to get a sense of the overarching argument when there’s so much zig-zagging.

    • Aug 23, 20134:40 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      It is odd to refer to a positive as a “sunk cost” but it makes perfect sense. The entire point of a sunk cost is that it no longer should be factored into a decision, regardless of magnitude. So whether it is a positive or negative is equally irrelevant.

      And the article was clearly not trying to imply that this was somehow a negative. 

      • Aug 23, 20135:54 pm
        by Crispus

        Reply

        Gah it’s not that sunk costs shouldn’t be factored, it’s that they are factored too heavily for emotional reasons. And those heavy factors spring from loss aversion, not “win intoxication” or whatever the corresponding term would be.
         
        But no it doesn’t make perfect sense. A payment or obligation to pay is not the same as a “win” in the past. Emotional attachment to Joe D is in a different realm than the “$unk costs” of the contracts he has given out. You can’t just make make oranges into apples and expect to get away with it.

        • Aug 24, 201312:33 am
          by CityofKlompton

          Reply

          The 2004 title may not be in the same “realm” as some of the bad contracts, but the fact remains they are both part of an untouchable past that cannot be changed. Hence, they can both be attributed as “sunk costs” within the context of this piece.

          Also, I’m not sure why, but “win intoxication” made me chuckle.

        • Aug 24, 20131:31 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          “ it’s not that sunk costs shouldn’t be factored”

          I don’t think you understand the term “sunk cost”. A sunk cost is, by definition, something that shouldn’t be factored into a decision. That is precisely what it means. So, no, there is no instance in which a sunk cost should be considered at all.

          The “sunk cost” is not emotional attachment or whatever. It is the past championship. That is over. It’s great the Pistons got it. But it should not factor into future decisions. Now, the things that caused that championship to happen (like Dumars’ skill in building that roster) are not sunk costs. But the fact that the Pistons did in fact get it is.

        • Aug 24, 20136:01 pm
          by Crispus

          Reply

          That’s funny Mr. Rearden, Dan seems to think this sunk cost (the championship) should be factored in the decision, but only somewhat. It seems like he is gong to use two other sunk cost to influence his argument next week. Somebody call the Fallacy Police!
           
          You are right that true sunk costs technically should not factor into a decision, but in the real world they almost always do. Emotions matter and until Gores hires Billy Beane as GM they will continue to. Plus, Dan’s definitions of sunk cost are so amorphous that it’s hard to put into textbook practice anyway.

          • Aug 24, 20139:58 pm
            by CityofKlompton

            Good thing this is a blog… and not a textbook.

          • Aug 25, 201312:16 am
            by tarsier

            Did you address me as “Mr. Rearden”? Or somebody else? Cuz it seemed like a response to me. But I don’t know if that is supposed to be an insulting term or a complimentary one or some sort of pop culture reference or if you just happen to think you know my actual name or something else entirely.

            I’m confused. 

          • Aug 25, 20133:54 am
            by Crispus

            Hank Rearden is an Ayn Rand character who behaves in almost complete accordance with reason and logic. He is the type of guy who would completely ignore any sunk cost or other emotional factor when making a decision.

          • Aug 25, 20139:12 am
            by tarsier

            Ah, ok.

    • Aug 25, 20135:42 pm
      by gtg2013

      Reply

      Crispus’s definition of “sunk cost” is correct. Mr. Feldman could have used “past achievements” or something. Mr. Feldman is a writer so I am sure he wants such mistakes pointed out, as he will always want to use le mot juste. Right? ;)

    • Aug 30, 201312:13 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      You are correct, Crispus. Sunk cost was too precise a term for what I meant. I’m glad it seems like many understood what I meant based on the logic that goes into understanding sunk costs, but that’s not a leap readers should have had to make.

    • Aug 30, 201312:15 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      “Why do a two-part article when almost every single paragraph is a counterpoint to the last one? It’s hard to get a sense of the overarching argument when there’s so much zig-zagging.”

      The overarching argument is that Dumars should be judged, at least in terms of keeping his job, for what he’ll do in the future, not what he’s done in the past.

      Obviously, a nuanced examination through that lens will bring up points both in favor keeping and firing him. 

  • Aug 23, 20133:27 pm
    by Otis

    Reply

    Damn. Crispus beat me to the punch. That’s not what a sunk cost is. I also agree with the zig-zagging bit. And not to pile it on too much, but you’ve also assigned Joe far too much credit for getting Ben Wallace. Joe wanted John Amaechi, but Orlando wouldn’t budge. Getting Ben Wallace was plan B at absolute best. Hill was moving on and Joe had to get SOMETHING. Nobody on planet earth, especially not Joe, had any idea what he was getting. For that reason alone, I can’t give “all” the credit to Joe for his success a decade ago. That was dumb luck.

    • Aug 23, 20134:25 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Trading for Ben Wallace wasn’t the incredible move that Dumars pulled off. Ben was certainly key to the Pistons’ championship, but what really made it a coup was that he was signed so cheaply ($33.9M/6 yrs).

      Normally, landing a Ben Wallace caliber layer wouldn’t be a huge deal because, as good as he was, it would cost a lot of money and reduce how much you could invest in other spots. That’s the reason why superstars and rookie deals are so important. You get more production than you’re paying for and that gives you a competitive advantage normally reserved for those willing to go well into the luxury tax (of course, some teams double up on advantages by underpaying stars with max contracts and going deep into tax territory).

      The reason that the Pistons were so good was because they had Ben Wallace and Billups ($27.276M/5 yrs) at insanely cheap prices (due to gambling with long-term deal for guys with upside) This is why I’m not a big fan of giving guys who you hope to develop (like Amir Johnson) 2- or 3- year deals. Either get something for them from someone else or sign them for as long as possible while their annual price is low.

      Anyway, signing Billups and Ben really cheaply and having Prince still on his rookie scale deal allowed the Pistons to splurge on Hamilton and Sheed as well as a very strong bench (most notably McDyess even though he wasn’t around for the title run).

    • Aug 23, 20134:33 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Surely you can concede that, even if Dumars didn’t really want Wallace, he deserves a ton of credit for gambling on the right guys and locking them up to long-term deals at a buy-low prices.

      • Aug 23, 20138:28 pm
        by Otis

        Reply

        I’m sick to death of giving the guy credit. Nearly every “brilliant” move he ever made was followed up with something that was so boneheaded that they cancel each other out. Joe has gotten more than enough credit for his accomplishments from 2002-2005. He doesn’t need any more.

        • Aug 23, 20138:29 pm
          by Otis

          Reply

          That was a typo. Should have said 2002-2004. He did one good thing in 2005 (signing Dyess, for which I give him more credit than the Ben Wallace trade) but still.

        • Aug 24, 20132:24 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Bad moves don’t retroactively remove the credit for good ones. Dumars has been terrible for years, no disagreement there. But that doesn’t mean you get to take away how fantastic it was to lock up Wallace and Billups long-term at insanely low rates.

          • Aug 26, 20133:55 am
            by Otis

            Yes I can. Neither one was particularly heralded, Joe didn’t even want Wallace in the first place, and both were signed for league average contracts. Handing out league average contracts is playing it pretty safe. The man mostly just got lucky with these guys.

          • Aug 26, 20138:30 am
            by tarsier

            Do you have any idea how incredibly common it is to sign guys in such a situation to 2- or 3- year deals in order to play it safe? Dumars may have gotten lucky, but he chose the right guys to gamble on. That is the key. Assembling every contender ever required some luck. And almost all required some skill (exception for the LeBron Cavs who got lucky to get LeBron and messed up every other move but were still contenders because they had LeBron).

      • Aug 30, 201312:18 pm
        by Dan Feldman

        Reply

        I have no idea what Dumar’s exact preferences were between Amaechi and Wallace, but I do know Wallace was also a free agent that summer. It was a sign-and-trade both ways. It’s not like Dumars settled for Wallace in the limited pool of Orlando’s roster. Dumars chose Wallace over everyone in the world he could have gotten.

    • Aug 24, 20133:07 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      Is it true that Dumars wanted Amaechi over Wallace? I’ve read a bunch of reports that said that Detroit discussed the deal with Amaechi, Wallace, or Bo Outlaw coming to Detroit. I’ve also read a few that say that Orlando was not willing to move Amaechi. Both of those things can be true without Dumars having preferred Amaechi. I’ve also never read an actual report that claimed that Dumars preferred Amaechi. It could be that the other two guys were talked about in case Orlando felt that Ben was too steep of a price to give up. That actually seems reasonable. All 3 guys had relatively similar production and Wallace was the youngest guy in the group, so it would make sense for Joe to think Wallace had the highest value and therefore brought up the other two guys to make certain some kind of deal actually got done.

      • Aug 26, 20133:58 am
        by Otis

        Reply

        The most reasonable sources I’ve heard were that Joe wanted Amaechi but Orlando wouldn’t budge. These things rarely get leaked in concrete terms, especially not out of the Pistons’ front office, but that’s been pretty consistently the story. It sounds like you’re trying to favor the version of the story that makes Joe look like some kind of mastermind genius, but the truth is he took what Orlando was willing to give him.

        • Aug 26, 20134:21 pm
          by Gordbrown

          Reply

          Joe wanted Bo Outlaw, Orlando was the one who wanted to send Amechi. They finally settled on Wallace. Bo Outlaw was a good player.

        • Aug 26, 20135:34 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          No, I’ve never once seen Detroit wanting Amaechi. I’ve seen reports that Detroit wanted Outlaw like Gordbrown is saying. I’ve also seen a bunch that Dumars told them either Outlaw or Wallace and let Orlando choose which one to send. I also have seen Detroit started with Outlaw because they thought his value was lower than Wallace’s, and only after getting rebuffed on Outlaw did they think to ask for the guy they really wanted. Conflicting reports like this happen all the time when reporting on the machinations behind trades, so it is always tough to figure out what actually happened. That said, I’ve seen exactly zero reports that Amaechi was who Detroit really wanted. His name was consistently linked to that trade so he was almost certainly mentioned by someone, but I’ve never seen him as the guy that Detroit really wanted. I’ve seen it reported as Orlando mentioned him, and I’ve seen it with Detroit bringing him up. Yet bringing his name up is not the same thing as targeting him. If I had to guess, I suspect that Detroit started with Outlaw and Orlando countered with Amaechi, and then both teams settled on Wallace instead. That would mean that I suspect that Detroit preferred Outlaw, so I don’t think Dumars is just a genius.
           
          Look, Wallace seems like a far more likely ask than Amaechi. Neither one had a great pedigree at that point. Amaechi spent some time overseas before doing so was as well regarded as it is now. Wallace was an undrafted free agent that already was on his 3rd team (counting the Celtics who cut him before his rookie season). Wallace averaged 4.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. Amaechi averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and .5 blocks. Amaechi also shot a pretty bad .437 from the field. So Wallace was the more productive player and the younger player. This is my real problem with claiming that Amaechi was the request, that it makes no sense to me. I get asking for Outlaw. Outlaw didn’t rebound like Wallace, but he had the shot blocks, much better passing, and shot a higher percentage from the field. That makes sense. They were still pretty similar players, but Outlaw was a bit older. It’s reasonable to have valued Wallace higher than Outlaw due to the age difference, but Outlaw was slightly better at that time and easily could have been the ask. Those two at least had pretty similar values. That value was higher than Amaechi’s though, so I’m just not buying that Detroit really wanted Amaechi.

  • Aug 23, 20133:50 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    “The goal is to find a general manager who can construct the Pistons’ next championship, not its previous championship.”

    This hits the nail on the head. 

  • Aug 23, 20134:47 pm
    by Kobina

    Reply

    Here are some teams that have selected before us in the last 4 drafts: 

    The Cavs
    The Wizards
    The Kings
    The Sixers
    The Raptors

    I think we are in better shape for this season and the future, than all those teams.  Considering what Joe went through with the extended ownership change that tied his hands for 2 years, he deserves respect for rather quick action to get us moving in the right direction.  This article ignores objective factors surrounding 2 of the last 4 losing seasons.  When you look what JD has done to right the ship, in the time he has been free to act, you see that he is doing good work.

    The Bobcats have spent years tanking and clearing cap space; the strategy many Pistons fans have advocated. Do any of us want to switch places with them?

    • Aug 23, 20136:25 pm
      by Gordbrown

      Reply

      Exactly.

    • Aug 23, 201311:42 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Thank you.  You guys get it. 

    • Aug 24, 201311:13 am
      by Geoff

      Reply

      I agree.

    • Aug 24, 20133:16 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      The “Dumars’ hands were tied” is the most overused argument I’ve seen on this site.

      Facts:
      We have no idea to what extent his hands were tied.
      If in fact they were completely bound, it was still only really a problem because of his own idiotic moves.
      There were definitely some smart moves he could have made in that time but decided not to (most notably Prince for Butler + pick).
      We have yet to see how his first set of moves in a long time will turn out so it is very premature to say he has “righted the ship” especially given that most analysts aren’t huge fans of the moves he’s made. 

      • Aug 24, 20139:49 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        Ignoring the idea that Dumars hands were tied seems more speculative to me than to think they were.   The most relevant facts would be how often Dumars made moves both before and after the period that they might have been tied.   Before and after Dumars made frequent moves but during that period he made none for a ridiculous amount of time for any franchise and especially one that was struggling.  

        • Aug 25, 201312:26 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Ignoring that his hands would not be speculative at all. Quite the opposite, it would be failing to account for all factors. But every GM’s hands are tied to some degree. It is fair to assume that Dumars were somewhat more. But we have no idea how much more.

          What we do know is that the one move that was available out there that involved picking up a draft pick for a loss of absolutely nothing (except that the Pistons would have probably not won quite as many games down the stretch, which would also have been a positive in context) was one that he rejected. So if he was dumb enough to turn that down, what good would it have done for him to have free rein to turn down other good deals?

          I think that we can rule out that Dumars had as much freedom as he has had before or since. And I think we can rule out that he wasn’t allowed to make any moves at all. That leaves a lot of room to guess about how much freedom he had. But it was his freedom that put the Pistons in a bad spot to begin with.

          So assuming that with more freedom, he would have fixed everything would be far and away more speculative than assuming that the other GMs in the league probably didn’t want to be trade-raped (The League reference).

          • Aug 25, 20131:34 pm
            by Anthony J.

            I tend to agree with you Tarsier and I agree with everything you just said but when you said that evey GM’s hands are tied to some degree one name instantly jumped out to me and that is Billy King (Nets GM.) Considering the fact that the Nets owner is in win now and doesn’t give a care about luxury tax, I think it’s safe to say that King is the only GM that doesn’t have his hands tied. Haha.

          • Aug 25, 20133:30 pm
            by tarsier

            You may actually be right about that. I don’t know if ownership is putting any limitations on him.

          • Aug 26, 20134:04 am
            by Otis

            One tidbit to bolster the flawless argument that this “hands tied by ownership” hogwash meant a damn thing: The roster was basically the exact same before and after the ownership transition, and what did Joe do once his hands were untied? Literally just re-signed his own free agents (Stuckey, Prince, JJ). Nothing else whatsoever. Nobody wanted these horrendous contracts and we have actual concrete proof, because the roster was winning games at a 30% clip, the cuffs came off, and Joe stood pat.

  • Aug 23, 20134:59 pm
    by MIKEYDE248

    Reply

    Even if Joe hasn’t built a championship team out of the players they have now.  At least he has assembled some talent on the team that they can possibly trade for the pieces that might win them a championship.

  • Aug 23, 20136:49 pm
    by Corey

    Reply

    There is nothing that could ever be done to prove in advance that Dumars- or anyone else- can build the NEXT championship team for any franchise. If we only want a GM we can prove in advance will build a championship team, we’ll never have a GM at all. having done it before is about as good as you will find for evidence to suggest the capability. It’s a silly premise for an article. Although I’ll admit that finding something to write about regarding the pistons in August isn’t easy.

    • Aug 23, 201311:43 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Thank you.

    • Aug 25, 201310:59 am
      by Shawn

      Reply

      This is the best reply I’ve read so far…  

    • Aug 25, 20131:38 pm
      by Anthony J.

      Reply

      Agreed. Who’s to say that the new GM comes in and totally screws us. What if a new GM comes in and we end up becoming a team like Charlotte or the Timberwolves during the Khan era. Who’ to say that a new GM comes in and he’s 10 times better than Dumars. Getting a new GM is definetly a gamble.

    • Aug 25, 20133:35 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      “There is nothing that could ever be done to prove in advance that Dumars- or anyone else- can build the NEXT championship team for any franchise.”

      Correct.

      “having done it before is about as good as you will find for evidence to suggest the capability.”

      This is a bit more of a matter of opinion. A well regarded strategy in almost any business is to reward correct behaviors rather than correct results. 

      • Aug 26, 20139:30 am
        by MIKEYDE248

        Reply

        Looking at a GM is just like looking at a head coach.  One of the only things you can do is look at their resume.  Most of us were not too impressed with Mo Cheeks, because he was a mediocre coach with about a .500 winning percentage.

        If you were too look at Joe’s resume (just as a GM), you would see an NBA championship, executive of the year, back to back finals appearances and 6 eastern conference finals appearances in a row.  All this without a superstar.

        Sure he hasn’t done a whole lot lately, but if I were building a team, I don’t think you will find too many GM’s with a better resume.

        • Aug 26, 20132:26 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          You couldn’t find many with a more impressive list of past accomplishments. You could probably find a bunch with a more impressive list of skills and abilities. How you ought to rank those two sections of a “resume” is highly debatable.

    • Aug 30, 201312:19 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Who said anything about “prove”? But you sure beat that straw man down.

  • Aug 23, 20137:01 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    If 2004 championship is a “sunk gain” then the future championship is anybodies guess. Can’t be predicted or connected to the GM.
    And I think the superstar question will be answered by Andre Drummond
     My opinion  

    • Aug 23, 201311:44 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Agree regarding Drummond.  Big time!

  • Aug 23, 20137:20 pm
    by Oracle

    Reply

    So let me get this!

    Having won championships in the past is no value in winning in the future? Then why do teams sign guys that have championship experience? Just to look at their rings?

    One thing is for sure, it’s impossible to go back to a place you’ve never been! Joe knows the way, and he’s starting on the defensive end, with the possible exception of Jennings! He knows the way!

    Having said that, I still believe he needs to be held accountable for execution! Getting players isn’t easy, but it’s not as hard as getting them to play well together! Execution is where it’s at, so I hope Cheeks can deliver his end of the deal!!!  

    • Aug 23, 20138:35 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      Frankly, I think there’s a very big difference between valuing a player’s championship experience and believing that one fluky championship means the general manager can do it again. Championship experience means something, and could very possibly be repeatable. Because the game itself doesn’t change much over the course of a career, and the experience one gains in pressure situations is valuable.
       
      The machinations of a general manager are much more ephemeral. Joe can’t go out and find the next Chauncey Billups, because there is no “next” Chauncey. There was only one. You just can’t force history to repeat itself when it comes to assembling a team. It’s like catching lightning in a bottle. And Joe proved as much with all of his horrific personnel decisions between 2008 and 2012.

      • Aug 24, 201312:07 am
        by Max

        Reply

        Having a GM who built a championship is possibly worth more than any player could represent because a player has a pretty short window compared to a GM who could anchor a franchise for 3-4 decades.   I’ve said it before but not only has Dumars proven he can build a championship but also more importantly that he could build one without a superstar or players who conventionally make a team a contender.   Josh Smith is the best high priced free agent who has ever signed with the Pistons in history.  The LeBrons of the world are never coming to Detroit.   Even Isiah, who was a superstar, and the Bad Boys were an incredibly unconventional team to win a title and they had a run of contending.   That team is the only team in NBA history to win a title with the best player being a diminutive point guard.  What doesn’t get said often enough around here is that the 2004 group that Dumars built was one the better teams of all time from the standpoint of chemistry and that doesn’t happen by accident or luck.  From the time Dumars was drafted, the franchise has been contending at a much higher ratio than they ever did previously and Dumars has been an integral part of all of their success.   I trust him to keep going and get the team back in contention more than I would any name anyone could name among every single personage who is associated with basketball.   We can’t get Red Auerbach so I’m sticking by Dumars.  

        • Aug 24, 201312:11 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          Ooh I disagree with you even more than usual. Keep trying, Max! You’ll figure things out one day.

          • Aug 24, 201312:33 am
            by Max

            So you think LeBron is coming to Detroit?   I’ll keep trying and you keep hoping.   Think I have a better chance of being right.  

      • Aug 24, 20133:04 am
        by Max

        Reply

        @Otis…..Trading for Brandon Jennings proves Dumars agrees with you regarding his ability to go out and sign the next Billups.   Repeating his former success doesn’t mean finding the next Billups, Hamilton, Prince, Wallace and Wallace to play together.  The idea is absurd and there hasn’t been any evidence that Dumars thinks that way.   And I take major exception to your calling the 2004 title “fluky”.  I’d have thought getting to the 7th game of the finals the following year and coming within minutes of a back to back run would be convincing enough even if six straight trips to the conference finals didn’t do it for you.    

        • Aug 24, 20137:43 am
          by sebastian

          Reply

          Yeah, Joe has made some bad decisions, no need to type them, here; and he has had some good draft picks and slick ass deals go through, too.
          But, just like the Logo said, if the GM is more than 50% right, then he is doing a good job. And, Joe has been right more than 50% of the time.
          We should be happy that Joe has re-awakened and has come out of hibernation.
          Joe has made some good moves, actually starting with the Ben G.-Maggette trade, last summer. In my opinion, it was important that Joe was able to become a player in this summer’s FA period, as oppose to next summer. The franchise can afford a 5th consecutive season of poor ticket sales and all the loses.
          Moving Tay was a pimp move. Getting Tay’s tired ass out of here was brilliant. Picking up another $11 million dollar cap space salary in the person of Jose Calderon was a money in the pocket move. I tried to tell you guys that Joe never wanted Calderon, he just wanted his expiring contract. Joe knew that he just had to be patient and play out the remainder of the Franks’ dreadful, final season as Head Coach.
          Signing Josh Smith was the move that got the ball rolling. The “Josh-haters” don’t quite remember that Josh Smith was the third best FA agent on the market and he was the FA, who could have possibly signed with any of the other 10-12 teams that were players in the Free Agency, but he signed with the Pistons. That alone says something about Joe’s reputation in 2013.
          Joe then brings Chauncey back to the Palace. Good things have been known to happen for organizations, when Chauncey is anywhere in the building.
          B. Knight, a hard working, young player, was traded for a “true” PG, who opposing PGs have to scout. B. Jennings can play folks.
          Joe goes overseas to Italy and convinces the Italian League MVP to play for the Pistons for crumbs ($3.5/2 years. This guy is a grown man at 25, but as young as Jerebko. He was also a teammate of Jennings, when B. Jennings was in Italy. Joe or somebody is doing some thinking.
          Believe it or not, the Josh Harrellson signing will have a very high ROI. The guy knows how to play the game. He is a below the rim Center, who has a nice touch away from the basket. He sets nice picks and he is a banger. Every successful team needs one good banger on their roster.
          The Will B. re-signing was curious, but when Will B. is the 10th man on your roster, then the roster is pretty deep.
          Yes, Joe has made some bad moves in the past, but the dude is on a roll, now!

          • Aug 24, 20137:47 am
            by sebastian

            Correction: The franchise can’t afford a 5th consecutive season of poor ticket sales and all the loses.

        • Aug 24, 20131:15 pm
          by danny

          Reply

          Exactly, and losing to the spurs in game 7 that came down to the wire.  It could have easily been the other way around, look what happened this year with them.  Dumars constructed a championship team and we had a great run, congrats.  

          Would we ever been able to sign Smooth if we didnt have championships?  He stated himself, and he is one of the premiere players to choose the D.  Now with another 18 million to play with we can do two things, bolster the bench or get another person to fit the puzzle.  We need to watch them play for a couple of months to see what the assessment is, give it some time.  People want results instantly and it doesn’t work that way, sorry.

      • Aug 25, 20131:44 pm
        by Anthony J.

        Reply

        I usually agree with you Otis but I have to disagree with the part about the Pistons having a fluky championship. This team was GOOD. 6 straight ECF trips is not easy. You also factor in that we beat the star studded Lakers not in a 7 game series but in 5 games! Then this team went to the finals again the next year! Again, this team was GOOD. I don’t think that championship was a fluke at all.

        • Aug 26, 20134:09 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          Maybe “fluky” was the wrong word. “Anomalous” would be better.
           

    • Aug 24, 20134:29 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      “Then why do teams sign guys that have championship experience?”

      Because lots of GMs aren’t actually very good at their jobs. Look at James Posey and Trevor Ariza, two guys who both made it big right after winning a championship. Think the teams that signed them were glad they did so more than a year later? 

      • Aug 25, 20139:22 pm
        by Anthony J.

        Reply

        Definetly man. I think Trevor Ariza is a pretty good player still but that contract that he has is KILLER!!! Good player gone bad by having a boatload of money in his next contract. Put him in the same conversation as BG. Haha.

  • Aug 23, 20137:25 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    I think the pistons  championship formula is 4 undervalued but productive BIgs that make the game easier for quality guards.

    Rodman Laimbeer Salley Mahorn

    Wallace Wallace Memo Corliss

    Drummond Monroe Smith Mitchell/Harrelson (whichever cracks the rotation.)

    So if we want to speculate we have just as much a chance to win a championship in the next 4 years as we did in 1989/90 and 2004 

    My opinion  

    • Aug 23, 20138:39 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      I don’t see how a front line of Smith-Monroe-Drummond is going to make the game easier for anyone except opposing defenses who will have the easiest game plan in history: Pack the paint and make us beat them from outside. Not trying to be a negative Nancy here, but this roster (for all the added talent) hasn’t proven anything yet.
       
      Also, I’d say the formula of the previous championship teams has been hard-working, tough, well-rounded teams that were anchored by their defenses and where everyone had defined roles and complemented each other’s games.

    • Aug 23, 201311:48 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      I’m with Vic.   Can’t wait for this season to start when we’ll see how happy teams are to be facing the Smith, Monroe Drummond front line that will intimidate nearly every team in the league and outrebound everyone.   Packing the paint is such nonsense and there are less than a handful of examples in history when such a concept actually worked.    

      • Aug 24, 201312:14 am
        by Otis

        Reply

        Uhm, there are less than a handful of examples in history when a team had three (3) players in its starting lineup who are incapable of scoring anywhere but the rim. Heck, Stuckey would make four. So yes, we’re certainly in uncharted waters here.
         
        But everything is sunshine and lollipops to you, so it’s easy to dismiss your… gosh, “opinions” sounds too generous to describe your flag-waving, unbridled optimism. Ah, yes. To dismiss your flag-waving, unbridled optimism. Perfect.

        • Aug 24, 201312:47 am
          by Max

          Reply

          Please.   What bullshit.   I was as hard and negative about Brandon Knight as anyone who writes on these boards.  I was as angry as anyone when Dumars chose KCP over Trey Burke.  I hated the Billups trade, the Gordon and Charlie V signing and I could on with other examples going back to the mid-80s.   More to the point, I was also one of those screaming that Drummond should start throughout all of last year and was vocal in saying Smith was the 2nd best free agent the Pistons could get early in the process–I preferred Iggy.   I got pretty much what I wanted this summer (other than Burke) so this isn’t optimistic flag waving but rather an example of standing by my convictions.  Why shouldn’t I be optimistic when I got what I wanted?  I care about defense about ten times more than I do offense and the Pistons might be the most intimidating team in the whole league to try to score on inside now and they should out rebound everyone.   You don’t think having one of very biggest and most athletic front lines in all of NBA history can work because their bigs can’t shoot even though they are great passers and mobile?   More power to you but I think you will be proven wrong when the Pistons fulfill Jennings’ prediction of becoming “lob city”.   

          • Aug 24, 20131:12 am
            by Max

            I’d also like to ask you a question about Monroe.   Do you really think he can’t hit a 12-15 footer if the defense doesn’t guard him?   Everyone has been quoting Monroe’s mid range shooting numbers as proof that he is not a good midrange shooter.   Personally, I have seen Monroe make and miss a lot of midrange jumpers (which shows he has the green light to take them) but I can’t remember seeing him take many that were wide open.  Nobody has been giving him his jumper.   He has been the player teams have spent the most effort defending for the past 2 years on the Pistons and has been drawing opposing teams best big defensively.   You’ll probably call this flag waving but I’ve seen Monroe hit enough midrange shots to at least be somewhat optimistic that if other teams pack the paint and don’t even guard Monroe from the midrange that he may hit an acceptable percentage of his jumpers.  

          • Aug 24, 20134:10 pm
            by oats

            Why is Monroe getting left open all of a sudden? Packing the paint doesn’t mean don’t guard a guy 12′ from the basket. The free throw line is 15′ from the basket, so 12′ away is in the paint most of the time. The goal will be to have 3 defenders in a 15′ by  15′ square around the hoop at all times since those 3 offensive players aren’t worth guarding outside that distance. If Smith or Monroe have the ball anywhere in there they will have at least one defender on them still. If they don’t have the ball their defenders might cheat off them a bit as close as 9′ from the hoop, but not to the point where they won’t be able to close the distance quickly if Monroe or Smith get the ball. This philosophy also means the opponents will always have a defender in a position to conveniently move to double team anyone in that area. So if anything, a team packing the paint might guard the 12-15′ jump shot even tighter because both Monroe and Smith have a tendency to turn it over a lot. It’s not a fear of their jumper that will get them guarded there, it will be a desire to force them to turn it over that will get them defended when they have the ball in that range.
             
            That’s the packing the paint philosophy. If one of those guys goes outside that area then teams will just not guard them so they can have an extra defender to double up on the guys in the paint. This is actually why I think it’s crazy for people to think that Stuckey might start because he’d be a 4th guy not worth defending outside that zone. The more bad shooters a team has on the court, the more their opponents will have an opportunity to provide double teams in the paint.

          • Aug 24, 20139:52 pm
            by Max

            With Drummond and Smith inside Monroe should get more open looks than he ever did before.  It has been said often enough on these boards that whether Monroe can make the midrange jumper is key to whether the big frontline can work.  When Smith or Drummond or both are inside and require double teams Monroe should be able to stand in the midrange and get some rhythm open jumpers.  

          • Aug 25, 20139:15 am
            by tarsier

            Since when do Smith and Drummond require double-teaming?

            Especially if both are near the basket. Then you have on defender on each and it’s like they’re both double-teamed because the second defender is always so close in case help is needed.

          • Aug 25, 20139:17 am
            by tarsier

            There are very few people in the league who are consistently double-teamed.

          • Aug 25, 20134:02 pm
            by AYC

            Remember, for all this “packing the paint” and floor spacing stuff not to be an issue, all Josh Smith has to do is hit wide open corner 3s at like a 35% clip.  Not an impossible task.

          • Aug 25, 20135:09 pm
            by tarsier

            Not an impossible task for Smith to become a good 3 point shooter? I see you are being very technical with your use of the word impossible. It’s also not impossible that every other team’s star gets injured immediately before playing the Pistons all year.

      • Aug 24, 20133:40 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        Umm, packing the paint definitely works. It’s the guiding principal of pretty much every good defense in the league right now. The Heat pack the paint, the Spurs pack the paint, the Grizzlies pack the paint, the Pacers pack the paint, the Bulls pack the paint… Pretty much every team in the league has been doing it lately because it does work.
         
        Seriously, watch the Grizzlies/Spurs series again and pay attention to the Spurs defense. They ignored Prince and Allen if they were more than about 15′ from the basket so their defender could keep a foot in the paint pretty much all the time. Coming into that series the Grizz had been scoring a bit better in the playoffs, but then they ran into the Spurs and couldn’t get anything going. The Spurs were also the team that paid the least attention to Allen and Prince so they could pack the paint more than any other team that played the Grizz. The end result is the Grizzlies offense fell apart.

        • Aug 24, 20133:54 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          The Heat pack the paint?   I guess that’s why I remember Roy Hibbert who averaged 12 points on 45 percent shooting getting one wide open dunk after another in the half court set last year in the playoffs.   The Heat have terrible interior defense.  Put any two defenders on David West from the Heat and he can still easily shoot over the top and get a high percentage shot.  The Heat don’t rely on packing the paint but rather on stopping teams from getting the ball into the post in the first place. 

          I also think it’s funny how you named the five best defensive teams in the league last year as your example of teams that can pack the paint and then said everyone is doing it.   The Grizz, Pacers, Bulls, Spurs and Thunder (and Pistons now) are the only teams in the league that can effectively pack the paint in my opinion because they are the only teams that run out huge defensive oriented front lines.   

          • Aug 24, 20134:24 pm
            by oats

            You clearly don’t know what packing the paint means then. The Heat definitely pack the paint. Watch them play, and see where Wade and LeBron stand when the man they are guarding does not have the ball. They cheat off their guy to get a foot in the restricted zone. That is packing the paint. You can pack the paint and still front the big man to try to deny the entry pass. That’s very much their thing, and the Spurs do that quite a bit too. Packing the paint doesn’t guarantee that the team will effectively defend in the post though. The Heat’s interior defenders are pretty bad. That’s why they pack the paint, to get a second defender in a position to try to pressure them into a turnover with a double team. The Heat do that a lot because that team lives off turnovers.
             
            By the way, the purpose of the list was the sentence right before it. Pretty much every good defense does it. That is true. Those teams do it, also true. Most of the league does it, and that is also true. Yes, the Raptors pack the paint, the Wizards pack the paint, the Thunder pack the paint, the Clippers do it, the Celtics do it, the Knicks do it, the Nets do it, and I can keep going but it’s kind of pointless. All of this is true. Packing the paint is the guiding principal of the aggressive Thibodeaux style defense that is either being used or has seriously influenced every team in the league. Some teams do it more aggressively then others. Celtics, Pacers, Bulls, Heat, Spurs, Grizzlies, and Thunder and probably the most aggressive teams at packing the paint over the last couple years. They also are routinely among the top 10 defenses in the league, and that is not a coincidence.

          • Aug 24, 201310:00 pm
            by Max

            I should have said, “The Heat can pack the paint effectively?”   Just because they employ the strategy doesn’t mean that it works.  You said nothing to address all of the wide open dunks and layups the Pacers got against the Heat.  Even the Pistons managed to throw quite a few alleyoops against the Heat to Drummond last year and the Heat didn’t seem to be able to do anything about it. 

            The Raptors and the Wizards pack the paint?   You say they do but do they do so effectively?  Are they difficult to score against inside?   Not at all.  Saying they pack the pain because they are following the Bulls lead seems a lot like saying the Kurt Rambis Timberwolves ran their offense like Phil Jackson’s Bulls and Lakers because they were employing the triangle.   Just because you use a system doesn’t mean it works.  

            Also, to list the Celtics (of last year), Pacers, Bulls, Spurs, Grizzlies, Heat and Thunder as teams that pack the paint and then to say that their top defensive ranking is no coincidence gives way too much credit to the system.   Those teams have the best defensive lineups regardless of what system they run so it is no coincidence but it is about the players.  

          • Aug 25, 20135:36 pm
            by oats

            I’d say it is extremely effective for the Heat. They packed the paint to get steals, and they finished 3rd in the league in steals. That would be it working. Again, the purpose of packing the paint is not always to keep a guy from scoring there. The Heat do it to generate steals, which they then use to run fast breaks. Packing the paint is a huge part of what makes them the best team in the league since it also leads to their ability to get out and run. That is clearly the system working effectively.
             
            As for Hibbert precisely, the problem is the Pacers have David West on that team too. West is a much more dangerous scoring option than Hibbert, and he has the range to stretch out the defense because he is one of the best shooters from 16′ to the 3 point line of any big man in the league. That completely changes how a pack the paint team defends the Pacers. The Heat chose to worry about West and asked their big man to guard Hibbert man to man so they would have the ability to double up on West. That’s almost always the correct decision because Hibbert sucked on offense last year. It turns out that Hibbert happened to get hot in that one series, but that doesn’t somehow make the system flawed.
             
            Look, packing the paint is not fool proof. No, it does not make a terrible team into a good defensive team. You seem to think I’m saying it is some magical panacea, and that is not even close to what I’m saying. Some teams will be bad defensively no matter what they do. But teams do tend to play better defense when they use it, and it is especially effective against bad shooting teams. That is it working. What’s more, the system deserves a good deal of the credit even for the really good teams. Sure, Indiana would be good using most systems, but they are better using the pack the paint system. Same is true of pretty much all of those teams. The scheme definitely does get all of the credit, but it sure as heck deserves some of it.
             
            I also think you might misunderstand why the Raptors and Wizards kind of stink at packing the paint though. Hint, it has nothing to do with big men. To truly pack the paint the team needs competent perimeter players. They have to know when they can cheat off their man, and how far they can cheat off. They have to do a good job applying a double team to guys down low. They then have to know when to close and be physically capable of doing so. The Spurs aren’t good at packing the paint because of Duncan and Splitter. They are good at it because of Green and Leonard. This is also why the Wizards and Raptors suck at it, because their perimeter guys are really terrible defenders. Here’s where Detroit’s lack of shooters  could become a problem by the way. Even teams with guards who stink will rarely have their man make them pay for being late getting back if Detroit’s shooting isn’t good enough. That’s why people say they will just pack the paint against Detroit. I think it will work pretty well since both Monroe and Smith turn it over a lot, and defenses can contend everything done at the rim. This is a problem for Detroit.
             
            Most importantly, my point is that there are tons of examples of packing the paint working. You said there were less than a handful, but the truth of the matter is that all of the good defenses for the last 4 years or so are packing the paint. That means that you are definitely wrong, and the strategy in fact does work. The fact that some teams do it with less than stellar results in no way changes that fact.

          • Aug 26, 20134:16 am
            by Otis

            I don’t want to live in a world where Max is allowed to have a computer and write things on the internet. This guy flippin’ kills me every time. The living embodiment of that old adage about never arguing with a crazy person. I swear to God I’m always half convinced he just spouts this nonsense for the sole purpose of pissing people off and being an asshole. He’s one of the worst people ever.

          • Aug 26, 20132:42 pm
            by Max

            Typical rant by Otis who is calling me crazy but evinces about as much reason as the angry Hulk.   He hates Dumars so much and has become so negative that he only sees the glass half full part of every scenario.  

            Here are just some of his strident views that are stated in stark black and white with no possibility for error.   

            The Pistons 04 title was fluky.   He’s sick to death of giving Dumars any credit.  Ben Gordon had no possible chance to succeed on the Pistons–his failure in Detroit had nothing to do with his own decline.  Dumars only made good moves from 2002-2004.   Dumars did not have his hands tied by the change in ownership. Monroe can’t play possibly succeed at power forward and he’s better at playing center by a country mile.  The Smith-Monroe-Drummond lineup will give teams the easiest strategy in NBA history to defeat them–I guess this means the team will be worse than last year or maybe the worse record ever? I’m killing him and I’m one of the worst people ever–up there with Hitler?

        • Aug 24, 201310:04 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          Also, don’t tell me how the Grizzlies fell apart against the Spurs in the conference finals as an example of how easy it is to pack the paint against them.   They got to the conference finals!   I’d be over the moon if the Pistons get to the conference finals next year.  That would be an extremely successful season.  

          • Aug 25, 20135:55 pm
            by oats

            The Grizzlies had the 2nd ranked defense in the league. The Pistons will definitely not be that good. The logical assumption is that they would then need to make up that difference in another area if they are to be in the same range. Taking on a good teams tragic flaw without having what makes them special is not a recipe for making the conference finals. The Grizzlies also fell apart against the team that was by far the most aggressive at packing the paint against them. The Clippers and Thunder did it a bit, but the Spurs went all in on the strategy and the Grizzlies crumbled. 
             
            All that said, you seem to be missing the point. The point is not that packing the paint is going to be easy. Your claim is there are only a handful of examples of that strategy working. I referenced the single most visible time it worked, and it’s an extremely recent one. If that was the extent of my argument then you could dismiss it so easily. It most definitely is not what I’m basing my entire argument on. You wanted examples, I gave you a bunch of them. It’s not like the Grizzlies one was somehow wrong. It very clearly worked extraordinarily well. The NBA is a copycat league, and the Spurs just provided the league with a blue print to stop these really big teams. Expect more teams to be hyper aggressive packing the paint, and expect them to use it on Detroit too.

          • Aug 25, 201311:13 pm
            by Max

            Let me start by saying that whole debate was not about whether packing the paint works at all but whether it will be easy to shut down the Pistons by adhering to its principles.  You said that the point was not that packing the paint is easy so we may not be as far apart as it seems.  

            That said, you are sounding like a zealot to me with this packing the paint thing.   The strategy is not the sum of everything teams do defensively when they are employing the system.  Every team relies more heavily on the basic fundamentals that have been around and have evolved throughout the whole history of basketball.   

            Most teams that have ever accomplished anything in the NBA have required some kind of anchor in terms of shot blocking and rim protecting.   Jordan’s Bulls and the current Heat are the closest thing to being exceptions but their wings were all all time great defenders.  You said the Spurs aren’t good at packing the paint because of Duncan and Splitter but I would say that the Spurs wouldn’t be good at anything defensively if they didn’t have the defensive bigs.   Duncan is one of the very greatest defenders of all time and his role as an anchor is the key to their being a great defensive team throughout his entire career irrespective of what system they were shading towards.  If it’s not about the bigs then why do all of the top defenses other than the Heat have the shot blocking anchor and why do most of them feature larger than average front lines?  

            The Heat’s success on defense seems a lot like Jordan’s Bulls to me in that they rely on two great defensive wings for their shot blocking and put more pressure on the ball than anyone else.   Jordan’s Bulls lived off of steals and the resulting fastbreaks long before everyone was following the current Bulls’ style.  

            BTW:  Hibbert might have gotten hot but being hot has nothing to do with making a bunch of wide open dunks without a single defensive player in the paint to contest anything.    My point is that the Heat are terrible at defending once the ball is in the paint and their main effort is for the ball not to get there.  Since the Heat’s formation I’ve always thought the way to beat them is to pummel them inside.  If Greg Oden is healthy though, they will be unbeatable.  

          • Aug 26, 20136:55 pm
            by oats

            First of all, you don’t get to tell me what started my argument with you. You said packing the paint was nonsense, and there were almost no examples of it working. That is just not accurate, and I set off to make a point that you were in fact wrong. You’ve successfully countered zero of the points and are now moving the goal line on what the argument was. My argument is simple, the packing the paint strategy is effective, and it will be the most effective means of defending Detroit. I’ve never argued that every team in the league will successfully stymie the Pistons every game by packing the paint, so stop acting like that is what the argument is. The argument is simple, you incorrectly stated that packing the paint does not work. My response was that it does work.
             
            Also, I don’t know how to respond to the zealot thing. I guess anyone who has an opinion that they stand by seems kind of like a zealot. More than anything I don’t see where bringing this up is supposed to be productive. It feels like an attempt to make me get defensive so you can say you were right about my zealotry. You know what, I think I’m going to drop it at that since this isn’t going anywhere worthwhile.
             
            You seem to be conflating parts of the explanation and missing my point. Let me try to back up a bit and go over the points again. My first point is that packing the paint has been an effective defense. It in itself does not make a team a good defense, but that doesn’t change the fact that the defense is effective.
             
            My second point is on how to run it. This was a response to your claim that Heat don’t pack the paint. Packing the paint is bringing additional defenders into the paint that otherwise wouldn’t be there. This responsibility is almost always going to be done by the perimeter players since the big men are generally already in the area near the paint. That’s why I said that it’s Green and Leonard that make the packing the paint defense work for the Spurs, since they are literally the two who have the packing the paint responsibility. If those two were swapped for a bad defender then they would have some problems operating the system. Whether that means not coming off his man to double a big man in the paint or being slow getting back to his man, a bad defender along the perimeter will negate the gain from packing the paint. That is why the perimeter defenders are the key to making it work.
             
            Your counter to my second point is that Duncan and Splitter are key to making the Spurs a good defense. You are right that Duncan is the single biggest key to their success, but that doesn’t actually counter my point. Packing the paint is still a major key to their defense being this good because it is the combination of a good system and good defenders that make defenses elite. As I already explained, the packing the paint strategy relies on Green and Leonard. Duncan alone guarantees they will be alright defense. Adding Splitter makes them pretty good. Adding Green and Leonard makes them a legitimately good defense. The system allows them to be one of the elite defenses. It’s definitely a combination of these things that allowed them to be a top 3 defense last year. 
             
            So, why do most good defenses have good rim protection? The same reason they always have. Protecting the rim is the single best way to limit scoring. Packing the paint will allow a team to protect the rim better than not packing the paint, but it can’t do all the work. If anyone was actually claiming that packing the paint was all that was necessary then this might be an effective point to make, but that’s not the claim. Packing the paint is about helping what teams have in the way of interior defense. The problem for Detroit is it’s likely to be unusually effective because they only have two players with a jump shot in the starting lineup and have guys that play in the paint that are particularly turnover prone. So while it won’t guarantee that every team in the league will shut down Detroit’s offense every game, even teams that aren’t particularly well suited to defending Detroit using a traditional system should be dramatically better at defending Detroit if they pack the paint. That would be the system working against Detroit.
             
            As for the Heat, your point is still not addressing the packing the paint scheme. Yes, they stink at defending a guy with the ball and instead rely on denying the entry pass. What you are missing is how they do that. Some of that is having Chris Bosh front his man, but that is not even close to the only thing they do to limit those passes. They also have Wade and James cheat off their man to get in the passing lanes and make those passes really tough. When they do so they plant themselves right around the free throw line, often with a foot in the paint. Packing the paint is a key to them preventing the pass to the post. What’s more, once the pass gets in to the paint they often rely on Wade or James going to double team the guy to limit his effectiveness there. Against the Pacers those two were watching West instead of aggressively moving to Hibbert, and that meant that Bosh and his bad post defense was being asked to guard Hibbert by himself. Hibbert’s layups do not change the fact that Heat were packing the paint in that series, they just had their attention stretched out to closer to the free throw line and not down in the low post. It’s the same strategy, just spread out due to the presence of a knock down jump shooter that Detroit can’t match. Instead teams will just double on the guy with the ball if he is near the hoop, with the knowledge that the other players are really only threats near the hoop and they can recover to challenge that player if he is within his range.

          • Aug 26, 201310:12 pm
            by Max

            I’m not trying to make you defensive or concede anything.   I was originally arguing with Otis about packing the paint and you responded to that argument so you didn’t just start an argument with me but rather responded to one that was already happening and you don’t get to tell me I’m moving the line from an argument you weren’t a part of to begin with.  To me this was about Otis’ assertions that the current Pistons lineup can’t succeed because teams will have and I’m paraphrasing, “the easiest time in history” stopping them by packing the paint.  My overriding contention is that only the truly elite defenses of the league that also have the largest frontlines will have much success stopping the Pistons from bludgeoning them inside.   

            When I say that packing the paint has only worked a few times in history my point is that there are only a few playoff series at best that could be said to have turned on the winning team using the strategy.  Why do I only count playoff results?  The D’Antoni offense for instance has never worked in my mind because it seems to be built for the regular season as it hasn’t failed to make his teams look worse in the playoffs.  The Nets were probably more talented than the Bulls last year but the Bulls won and much of the playoff success that team has had is probably due to the system.   The system also is getting much of the credit for the Spurs win over the Grizzlies.   Other than those examples, I don’t think there is any other clear case of packing the paint being a decisive factor in any playoff series.   On the other hand, being bigger and more athletic than the other team has generally been a pretty decisive factor in which teams were the best from year to year and the game hasn’t changed so much that it will be easy for other teams to face the Pistons when almost all of them will be giving up size and athleticism every night.  

          • Aug 27, 201312:43 am
            by oats

            The problem is that you are arguing with something Otis didn’t say. The easiest time stopping them is way different than having the easiest game plan. An easy game plan is not the same thing as an easy time executing that game plan, and an easy time executing is not the same as it necessarily being effective. Yes, the game plan for defending the Pistons is extremely simple to come up with. Hedge off Smith, Monroe, or Drummond if they are away from the basket and without the ball in order to pack the paint. Take advantage of the defense crowding a small zone to double team those guys and force turnovers. Do everything in your power to contest any shot at the basket. That’s a really simple game plan. Having your players actually execute it, and execute it effectively may not be the same thing though.
             
            By the way, the Pistons will definitely bludgeon people inside. That will happen. They will also likely struggle to knock down 3s with the starting lineup in the game, and they are pretty likely to be even more turnover prone with both Monroe and Smith on the court. To me the question is not if they will get points inside, but whether their other deficiencies cost them too much for that to be an effective offense. A rather convenient example would be Detroit last year. Detroit was the second best team at scoring in the paint last year, but were only 21st in offensive efficiency. They turned it over a lot last year and they didn’t get many points from 3, so that allowed them to be a pretty bad offense despite scoring in the paint rather effectively.  It’s entirely possible that this discrepancy could actually increase next season. 
             
            I for one find it kind of odd to only look at playoffs to determine if packing the paint works. For starters, this Pistons team is not a lock for the playoffs so how they do in the regular season is more important than a potential playoff appearance. Limiting it to playoff games also reduces the sample size to the point of it being hard to make any real conclusions on a system’s effectiveness. I get doing it to discount the Phoenix 7 seconds or less strategy to some extent, but unless you have a good reason to think the strategy has a flaw that will be exposed in the playoffs then I don’t see the point. Relying only on the playoffs for this argument is pretty flawed since there is zero evidence of the system having that kind of flaw.
             
            As if the sample size wasn’t bad enough by sticking to only playoffs, you then discount all the examples of the system being effectively used but the team having another advantage. Like the Celtics employing it for the entire Big 3 era. That’s the team whose use of the system was so stifling that it inspired the league to copy it like crazy, yet somehow that doesn’t count as an example of it working because they also had Garnett and Perkins. The Bulls have run it since they got Thibodeaux as their coach, but the only time you credit the system with working is against the Nets. The Spurs have run it the last few years, but still no credit except against the Grizzlies. The Thunder and Grizzlies have used it for at least the last 3 years that I’m aware of, and no credit for that either. The Pacers have been doing it the last couple of years as well, and still the system is not getting credit. That’s why you aren’t finding many examples of it working, because you are blatantly ignoring a lot of them. Yes, there are other factors at play in these examples, but I don’t see how that changes the fact that the system has been working.

          • Aug 27, 20131:41 am
            by Max

            Well, I do feel that Otis is saying the Pistons will be bad because other teams will pack the paint against them.   When I say it doesn’t work, it’s like when Shaq was saying hack a shack didn’t work during his prime years because he was still winning.  It’s about results.  When Mike Tyson was in his prime everyone said the way to beat him was to make him take a step back.  Whether that was right or wrong though didn’t matter because no one was able to make him take that step back.  Obviously I didn’t define the word “work” in a way that was clear or was clear to you but my emphasizing the playoffs was about whether the strategy had worked in terms of it being the reason why one team moved on past the other. I did cite the Spurs Grizzlies series as providing evidence of that and if it wasn’t clear I also said much of the success the Bulls have had is due to their system and I meant the entire time they’ve been using it.  

            I didn’t say anything to take away credit from the Grizz, Spurs or any of the teams you are naming other than Heat.   I said that it required a big defensive oriented front line with shot blocking to really work and that not many teams have the requisite personal.  I have said all the teams you named could use it effectively.  The Boston example you brought up is exactly what I mean though when I say you are acting like a zealot by giving the system too much credit.  Kevin Garnett was probably the best defensive player in the league at the time and is one of the greatest anchors ever.   On a team with Perkins, Rondo, Pierce and Allen, Garnett would have made the Celtics one of the best defensive teams in the league whether the packing the paint trend had begun or not.   

            If you focus this debate on the Pistons and whether it will work, it does come down to results.   If every team in the league decides that packing the paint aggressively against the Pistons most of the time is a no brainer and that they don’t have to invest as much time game planning for the team as they would with any other and the Pistons have a good record and playoff showing than Otis’ statements will be clearly wrong and the plan will not have worked.    

          • Aug 27, 20134:40 am
            by oats

            I will concede that Otis may have meant it will be easy to stop Detroit. He didn’t actually say that though, and I generally try to base my stance on what was actually said. What he said is the game plan will be easy. A good strategy is one that maximizes the odds of success, and not necessarily one that actually succeeds. Sometimes a good scheme fails, and sometimes a bad one succeeds. That success or failure doesn’t change the quality of the game plan though. So for his statement to be correct he only needs the obvious strategy to be the one that is most likely to give teams the best chance to succeed. If that is true then the game plan was in fact easy.
             
            I still have no idea what your zealot point is. My position is that teams like the Celtics became elite defenses because they combined good defenders with a good scheme. Are you actually arguing that is somehow wrong? Unless you do disagree with that then my point still stands that their scheme was in fact working because it allowed them to become that kind of elite defense. I’m saying you can’t just give all of the credit to the talent at hand and completely ignore the scheme any more than you can completely ignore the players and credit the scheme. Again, after Boston’s success running the scheme the rest of the league was pretty quick to try to copy their scheme. That strongly suggests that a sizable portion of the league feels like the scheme deserves at least some of the credit. I really don’t get how taking an extremely common and logical stance is somehow making me a zealot here.
             
            Also, if working is what wins, then packing the paint qualifies. Half of the last 6 NBA champions have packed the paint. Last year’s conference finals featured 4 pack the paint teams. 2012 did the same. 2011 featured 3, although it was the one that didn’t really do it that much that ended up winning that year. Of those pack the paint teams, only the two Thunder teams were not top 10 defenses. In 2012 OKC was the 11th defense though. I’d consider that a pretty good success rate for the scheme. Before you accuse me of being a zealot again, let me reiterate that it is not the sole reason for the success of these teams. It is one of many reasons for their success, but the fact that it is one for at least a sizable portion of those teams is proof that it is working even by your definition of what working means.

        • Aug 26, 20138:11 pm
          by Anthony J.

          Reply

          It is true. A lot, if not all, teams pack the paint in certain situations. But there are also a lot of good teams that don’t have much floor spacing IN THEIR STARTING LINEUPS. The reason why I put that in caps is because the Heat is a good example of not having great floor spacers in the starting lineup besides Mario but they do have floor spacers on the bench (which the Pistons could mimick if Datome and KCP pans out and if Singler and CV and Harrelson can shoot the 3 at high clips.) That’s why the Spurs packed the paint against the heat in the finals. That plan obviously backfired though because LeBron was having a good night from the 3. But you can’t expect LeBron to shoot the 3 like that all the time.

          You look at good teams like Chicago, Memphis, Houston (Jeremy Lin isn’t reiable 3 point shooter), San Antonio (Parker can’t shoot 3′s), OKC (KD is the only starter who can shoot the 3 effectively). Those are just a few teams to say the least that are good but also have flaws in floor spacing.  

  • Aug 23, 20137:26 pm
    by inigo montoya

    Reply

    “Sunk costs”

    You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means

    • Aug 23, 20138:46 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      Nyuk nyuk.
       
      I’ve had my share of complaints about Dan’s journalistic prowess over the years, and I think much of the abuse he seems to take around here is warranted, but I think what irks me most is his staunch refusal to address people when they make polite, constructive criticism. (It’s too much to ask, I’m sure, that he improve his skills.) Occasionally Patrick will show up and come to his defense with a “It’s his site” or something, but Dan never seems to have anything to say to his little community. It’s bothersome.
       
      Truth to tell, in the hands of a writer with some authority I might give credit that it’s a deliberate stretch of the definition to represent a sort of metaphor for the goodwill fans extend to people, but he hasn’t earned the benefit of that doubt. Which is kind of crazy considering I’ve been reading his blog for years. And Dan, if you’re reading this, I’m not trying to be harsh. I genuinely want you to get better, at writing and at defending your work.

      • Aug 24, 20135:24 pm
        by tom

        Reply

        It really speaks to his laziness as a journalist, or more precisely why he is not a journalist and has no business writing articles for actual newspapers. If you’re going to take a phrase and make it a key part of an article you are writing for a newspaper at least take 2 minutes and google the phrase first. If he was just writing it for this blog I can live with the error – though Dan seems to make more than his share even for a blog – but to do so for a newspaper is unforgiveable.

        • Aug 26, 20134:22 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          I agree. I don’t want to beat the guy up, but yeah I basically agree with all of that.

        • Aug 26, 201310:34 pm
          by Crispus

          Reply

          I think Dan takes so much crap (from myself and others) because he chooses not to use what I would call “professional empathy”. This would be giving the subjects of his writing the benefit of the doubt or an optimistic story arc when the evidence against them has not yet coalesced. For instance P.E. would mean not calling Andre Drummond a “probable bust” and judging him for wearing sunglasses indoors before he is even fitted for a Pistons jersey, and not trashing Maurice Cheeks for days before the ink is dry on his contract.
           
          It’s fair game to use the past for analysis, certainly. But to place people in boxes based on past behavior and statistics is not fun or necessary for the purposes of this blog. Do we really want to be cynics and wonks from the blog owners down to the last commenter? Let the bean counters in the front office deal the harsh blows. We don’t need communist party-style cheerleading at PP, we’ve got Langlois for that, but nonetheless a steady stream of mild negativity can certainly poison the air.

          • Aug 27, 201311:53 pm
            by tarsier

            I would argue that you only call it negativity because of your overly positive bias.

            Let’s put it this way: this is one of the most negative fan sites for the Pistons you’ll find, I am slightly more negative about the Pistons on here than the average commenter, and I still consistently overestimate how well the team will do each year.

            So what I’m saying is that this site is more optimistic than a purely objective stance. it just looks pessimistic to you because you are looking at it from a position of being even more unduly optimistic. 

          • Aug 28, 201312:44 am
            by Max

            Did you predict the Pistons title in 04?   For my part, even when the team got to the finals I predicted the Lakers would sweep and I was only a little less shocked by their success when the team came within minutes of winning back to back titles against the Spurs.

          • Aug 28, 20137:39 am
            by tarsier

            Allow me to clarify my use of the term “consistently”. I do not mean that I overestimate their fortunes every year or how well every move will turn out. That would require me to be absurdly optimistic so that I overshoot the surprisingly good outcomes.

            I mean that, on the whole, my projections definitely average out to overly optimistic.

            I expected the Pistons to beat the Spurs in 2005 (although, to be fair, I hadn’t expected them to get by the Heat), the Heat in 2006, the Cavs in 2007, the Celtics in 2008. I was thrilled with the Iverson trade. I was down on the CV and BG signings, but not nearly enough so. My expectations for Curry and Kuester were much too high.

          • Aug 28, 201311:57 pm
            by Crispus

            There’s more to it than that. It’s not just a general negativity, it’s a lack of tact when writing about the people who play for or work for the Pistons. Dan is such a stats and facts guy that I think he overlooks how harsh and hurtful his writing can be from an emotional-social perspective. If a player acts like an idiot an hurts the team, yes, they deserve some stern words, but for argument’s sake imagine 19-year-old Andre Drummond reading that draft night post and saying “Probable bust? What the hell did I do to deserve that label?” It’s not a tough investigative reporter’s job to protect everyone’s feelings, but this is sports, and a hometown regional blog at that.
             
            I know I harp on the Drummond example a lot becuase it springs to mind easily. There are other instances though. There’s also a favoritism that belies the statistical focus, i.e. the Everyone Loves Kim English series. The fact is, Charlie Villanueva is still on the team and Kim English isn’t, but CV did not get the same kind of positive treatment.

          • Aug 29, 20139:58 am
            by tarsier

            ‘imagine 19-year-old Andre Drummond reading that draft night post and saying “Probable bust? What the hell did I do to deserve that label?”’

            He played like crap in college, that’s what. He was a probable bust. If he wasn’t, there was no chance in the world of his slipping to 9th in the draft.

            Of course, you talk about tact and then use examples like Drummond’s “probable bust” label. That post was actually written very tactfully. It didn’t just say “Andre Drummond is a probable bust”. It was more or less “Andre Drummond is a probable bust, and thank goodness, because that is how he managed to fall to the Pistons. And if he doesn’t bust, he will be incredible.”

            Of course when you take out the context, it sounds tactless. But it wasn’t.

            Also, I never understood the “Everyone Love Kim English” series. I personally was pretty ambivalent about Kim English. 

          • Aug 30, 201312:31 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            “I think Dan takes so much crap (from myself and others) because he chooses not to use what I would call “professional empathy”. This would be giving the subjects of his writing the benefit of the doubt or an optimistic story arc when the evidence against them has not yet coalesced. For instance P.E. would mean not calling Andre Drummond a “probable bust” and judging him for wearing sunglasses indoors before he is even fitted for a Pistons jersey, and not trashing Maurice Cheeks for days before the ink is dry on his contract.
             
            It’s fair game to use the past for analysis, certainly. But to place people in boxes based on past behavior and statistics is not fun or necessary for the purposes of this blog.”

            You’ll have to show me where I put Drummond or Cheeks in a box. 

          • Aug 30, 201312:34 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            Interesting points, tarsier. Now that I think about it, every single season PistonPowered has existed, the Pistons have performed worse than I expected going into the year.

          • Aug 30, 201312:36 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            To agree with tarsier again, if you want to pull out only the negatives of a nuanced post on Drummond, it will look much different than it does in context. Same as if you pull out just the positives.

        • Aug 30, 201312:30 pm
          by Dan Feldman

          Reply

          “If he was just writing it for this blog I can live with the error – though Dan seems to make more than his share even for a blog – but to do so for a newspaper is unforgiveable.”

          PistonPowered’s standards are not lower than a typical newspaper’s. Whether we meet those standards is up for you to decide.

      • Aug 30, 201312:28 pm
        by Dan Feldman

        Reply

        “I’ve had my share of complaints about Dan’s journalistic prowess over the years, and I think much of the abuse he seems to take around here is warranted, but I think what irks me most is his staunch refusal to address people when they make polite, constructive criticism. (It’s too much to ask, I’m sure, that he improve his skills.) Occasionally Patrick will show up and come to his defense with a “It’s his site” or something, but Dan never seems to have anything to say to his little community. It’s bothersome.”

        If you think I don’t reply to readers, in the comments, in emails and by what I post, I don’t know what to say. 

  • Aug 23, 201310:17 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    I seem like one of the few people that forget…how good Ben Gordon was for the Bulls… he was a top level FA …. the move for Iverson on Paper was a great move … even Charlie V was a nice pick up come from the Bucks…

    I feel the thing that has destoried the pistons have been horrible coaches and the hiring of coaches… That I would fire Joe for all by it self … not the trades or the signing… you went from 3 of the best coaches in that era… to the worst revolving door of coaches EVER!

    • Aug 23, 201311:36 pm
      by Gordbrown

      Reply

      You can tie Curry to Joe D. The other two were not Dumar’s top choices so the only thing you can pin on him for that is that he didn’t resign to protest their hirings. Except of course, that Joe is still here and the two coaches that dragged the team down are gone. What gets me is how the team declined in both of the second years of the last two incumbents — I know that the team improved its record slightly (about 10%) in the second year of the Q, but the team was relatively much healthier but the climate in the locker room was much worse. The team actually improved again the first year of Frank, but then last year happened – Yuck
       

    • Aug 24, 201312:25 am
      by Otis

      Reply

      On Iverson: Not the worst move on paper. I admit to being excited about the possibilities of both the Iverson experiment and the flexibility it would give us. I’m not sure it was “good” on paper, but it was intriguing. What followed was what crippled the team. Speaking of which…
       
      On Gordon: In a vacuum, Gordon was a top free agent. But basketball games aren’t played in a vacuum and the team had JUST given Rip a ludicrous long-term extension that lasted only a year less than Gordon’s, and they were seriously committed to Stuckey, who was also a shooting guard. I’d argue that this was the single most easily avoidable mistake in NBA history. Ben Gordon had absolutely no chance of being successful here. None whatsoever.
       
      On Charlie: I admit I didn’t know much about him when he signed here, but there was a pretty decent sized and vocal portion of the fan base who said he was a bum and we would regret signing him. Of the comments I saw about him from fans, the VAST majority were negative. Not to mention that he and Gordon were both notoriously bad defenders, which was a big red flag. Both of these guys were basically ditched for nothing.
       
      On the new guys: I’ve read comments about how the same is true of Smith and Jennings, but it’s not true at all. Milwaukee tried extending Jennings, but he didn’t like the offer. And it was reported that Smith wanted a max deal and the Hawks refused to give it to him, which could have resulted in bad blood. Both of these guys are on reasonable contracts and took less money than they originally wanted to come here. Also, this time around we gave the big contract to the big man, and his calling card is defense. Apples and oranges.

      • Aug 24, 201312:30 am
        by Otis

        Reply

        Oh, also: If I remember correctly, both of these guys primarily came off the bench for their respective teams. The chatter that immediately followed those signings was that Dumars had dumped 100 million bucks on two bench players, and it was entirely correct. Jennings and Smith have firmly established themselves as starters, both were among the best players on their former teams, and both are almost certain to start for us.

        • Aug 24, 20135:59 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Ask a Bucks fan if Jennings was one of their best players.

          • Aug 24, 201310:11 pm
            by Max

            Who cares what their fans say about Jennings?  Their opinion is emotional.   I’m not going to ask Pistons fans if Stuckey has been one of the best Pistons for the majority of his career because I know he was and I know Pistons fans are too emotional and disappointed in him to admit it.   Without looking up the numbers to be absolutely sure, I’d say Jennings led the Bucks in scoring, assists, steals and 3 pointers over the course of the last four years.   With that in mind, any opinion that say he wasn’t one of their best players during his days there must be hysterically emotional and as false as any opinion could possibly be. 

        • Aug 24, 201311:15 pm
          by I HATE FRANK

          Reply

          For the record, Gordon started the year we signed him, look it up and even

          • Aug 26, 20134:26 am
            by Otis

            I very certainly said they primarily came off the bench, and they very certainly did.

          • Aug 26, 20134:51 am
            by I HATE FRANK

            For The Bulls he averged 21 ppg shot 41% for 3′s and 46% from the field he stared 76 gsmes and played 37 mins per … He was only 24–25 and was comsiders as one of the best scoring and shooting guards in the league …. It wasn’t a one year wonder thing in the previous two season he was doing the same just in slightly less minutes….

            I don’t know what has happened to Ben Gordon, but it wasnt a bad signing by , just didn’t workout

          • Aug 26, 20138:40 am
            by tarsier

            It was a bad signing because he severely overpaid for a good but not great offensive player with no D. Of course, retrospectively it looks a lot worse because of whatever happened to make Gordon’s play fall off a cliff. But even at the time, it was a nearly universally criticized move. The headlines were along the lines of “Dumars’ money was just burning a hole in his pocket”.

          • Aug 26, 20137:20 pm
            by Anthony J.

            Tarsier is dead on. I honestly do think that defense is slightly if not greatly more important than offense. You can always go after good shooters like JJ Redick or Kyle Korver or Danny Green (just to name a few) but if You’re playing big money to a player that has no Defense once so ever and their names are not Carmelo or Kobe then you are asking for failure.

            I admit, BG was a good player and I don’t blame Joe at all for pursuing him. I don’t think anybody ever doubted BG’s skill (with the exception of his Defense) but that contract was the dagger in the heart for us.

            Charlie V, like Otis said, was less desireable by the fan base. Everybody knew that he was a bum before he even got here. At least people had hope for BG… Aw well. In life you live and you learn. Hopefully Joe proves us this season with Smith and Jennings that he learned his lesson.   

      • Aug 24, 20131:00 am
        by Max

        Reply

        Finding some agreement with you here Otis but Gordon would have been successful if he had not declined.   It’s that simple.   He might not have put up the numbers he did on the Bulls but the Gordon who played for the Bulls in the years leading up to his days with the Pistons would have been successful and found his minutes on any team that ever played in the NBA regardless of situation or who he was competing for minutes with.  You are essentially saying Gordon played poorly because RIP and Stuckey were on the team and acting like Gordon’s level of play had nothing to do with his decline.   I hated the signing because of his defense but it’s not on RIP, Stuckey or Joe Dumars but Gordon himself.  Players weren’t always in his way on the Pistons anyway and he hasn’t exactly resumed his Reggie Miller like numbers with the Bobcats on a team where no one is in his way.  

        • Aug 26, 20134:28 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          0% chance. Nobody to deliver him the ball, no quality big men to set picks and free him up, not enough minutes or shots available for him to get into a rhythm. No chance of success whatsoever.

          • Aug 26, 20138:46 am
            by tarsier

            He went from having a PG averaging 6 apg to one averaging 5 apg. Are you really going to blame his decline on that?

  • Aug 24, 20132:55 am
    by Max

    Reply

    Dan’s excerpt left out what I felt was the main thrust of his article: Ben Wallace was a superstar.   He argues that Big Ben was the third best player in the league at the time and was better than Shaq, Kobe, Nowitski and McGrady.   Now I love Big Ben but I find this line of thinking to be way off and don’t think Wallace was ever a top five player and might not have ever been a top ten player.  He might have even been the Bill Russell of his era but he was no Bill Russell–to even suggest he was better than Shaq is an outrageous insult to Shaq.       

    Now, Dan also was making the point that the 2004 group was unconventional and used that as a reason to question whether Dumars could repeat his success.   This seems wrongheaded to me because that very unconventionality is exactly why Dumars should be given more credit for his title than nearly any GM of all time.   Building a team with a top five player in the league is the blueprint just about every GM who has ever won a title has followed with few exception.   Winning a title without a top five player is therefore much, much harder and would seem to require a more competent GM.   Since Dumars has proven he can win without following the usual blueprint and since the Pistons have never had anything like a top five player they didn’t draft: who other than Dumars would be the right GM to try and construct a championship team without a top five player?   Even so, if you’re a Pistons fan like me, I think you’d have to be hoping that Drummond becomes a top five player.   

    • Aug 26, 20139:06 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      I agree that it is ludicrous to suggest that Wallace was better than Shaq. But to be fair, that wasn’t the only team to win with no superstar. I’d say that Ben Wallace was better than Dennis Johnson.

      To the main point of your comment, Dumars has shown that he can put together a winner outside of the normal mold. But he hasn’t shown any attempts to follow the normal mold (a much more likely way to get a championship) and he hasn’t made any moves since putting together that team that would allow for success in the same way.

      I pointed out above that the reason for the title team’s (extended) success was that he signed guys with a chance to be really good (Wallace and Billups) long-term when their value was still low. That allowed him to splurge on Hamilton and Sheed to round out the roster.

      Signing a guy like Josh Smith parallels the splurging on Sheed or Hamilton. That’s a relatively easy thing to do. There are going to be really good players who will sign for what they’re worth. But the best teams have guys signed for well below what they’re worth. So you need some of those too. That’s why I would have loved it if Dumars had signed Jennings for $35M/5 yrs. At least there’d be the potential for it to pay off big time. As it is, if Jennings outperforms his deal, he’ll just be up for a raise real soon (same time as Drummond).

      So unless Drummond gets so good that a max deal will severely underpay him, it looks like the two seasons after this coming one are Detroit’s window. Drummond is underpaid, Jennings could be underpaid (we’ll see how a change of scenery treats him), Pope can parallel Prince as the solid 5th best guy who is still on a rookie deal, Smith is still in his prime, and Dumars could splurge on one more guy next offseason if he plays his cards right (somehow gets rid of Bynum and Jerebko). In 4 years, it’s tough to see this core contending because if Jennings does turn out to be really good (which I don’t expect but is more or less vital to their hopes of contention), the Pistons won’t be able to afford to re-sign him and Drummond (assuming they got another big piece in the summer of 2014–also vital to any hopes of contention).

      • Aug 26, 20133:02 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        How do you know what the Pistons budget is?  Hypothetically, they can spend way more than the cap and the last time around they were paying a lot of big contracts after Billups resigned.   

        As for Dumars not following his model I would say that he is.    I always thought the most remarkable thing about the 04 group was that they had 3 shot blockers in the starting lineup.  They are at least close to having the same amount of shot blocking from their starters again.  I’ve also always thought the most telling comment Dumars has ever made about his philosophy was that he said he would break the 04 group up when their bigs declined because after he said so he followed through when they did decline.  To him the team is a group that requires great bigs.   The 04 team succeeded without a superstar because they had 4-5 borderline all stars or all stars.   If Drummond improves at all and if he reaches even a fraction of his potential, the Pistons will again have 4 borderline all stars and if KCP hits they could have the 4-5 borderline all stars or all stars the 04 group had.  Drummond is the wild card because his ceiling right now appears higher than anyone in the 04 group but we will see.   

        • Aug 26, 20134:57 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          I don’t know what their budget is. I am making assumptions, but well-grounded ones. It seems highly likely that the Pistons will not venture into the luxury tax unless they can put together a really special team (like at least a top 4 team, maybe even a title favorite, not merely a darkhorse contender).

          If you believe that Gores is willing to spend indiscriminately to improve the Pistons’ odds, then we need to change the direction of this conversation entirely. Anyway, I’ll set a reasonable guess of the Pistons’ budget to be total allowance to spend up to the tax but unlikely to be allowed to go over.

          Last time around, they were unable to retain both Billups and Wallace, which is basically my point. So I’m not sure why you brought up that example, it basically just shellacks your argument.

          Smith, Monroe, and Drummond should all be borderline all-stars. Who knows about Jennings. So they currently have 3-4 (if you want to see how such a team does, look at this year’s Nuggets or the past several years’ Hawks).

          If Dumars manages to dump Jerebko and Bynum, he may be able to get that up to 4-5 for next year. That would open the two-year window I mentioned previously. This caliber of team is more akin to this past season’s Grizzlies or Pacers, two teams that overachieved–but not by much–in making it to the third round.

          This window could be extended by however long Smith’s prime lasts if I’m wrong about the Pistons being tax-averse since Detroit would own the bird rights of Jennings and Drummond.

          Either way, once Smith starts declining, though, somebody else would really have to step up (Pope does not really appear to have star potential) since being willing to spend does not give you extra cap space.

          Now if Drummond can rapidly morph into Dwight Howard circa 2008-2011, that does change the equation a bit on just how good the Pistons are at any given point. But it doesn’t change the fact that they have a pretty small peak window, barring a major trade.

          • Aug 26, 20135:26 pm
            by Max

            Smith is 27, Jennings and Monroe are 23 and Drummond is 19 and the team has a short window?   Smith didn’t get max money.   Jennings was signed cheap.   Don’t get your argument.   Most teams have higher priced top players than the Pistons do and the extensions Monroe and Drummond can only be max deals for their years of service.   

            And the Pistons offered Big Ben the richest deal in the history of the franchise but he took a little more from the Bulls.  The Pistons could have matched but they decided not to.  It was a pissing contest.  It wasn’t like they couldn’t have signed him.   They replaced him with Webber and they were paying lots of players.  

          • Aug 26, 20137:38 pm
            by Anthony J.

            I’m just going to butt in here a little bit but I do remember reading some place a while back that Dumars was not looking to build the 2004 team again. Apparently he wants a clear cut superstar this time around. Josh Smith is pretty close to being a star, Drummond is a stud no doubt and Jennings and Moose are both young good players who could develop a little bit more. I think our chances of being a team with a top 10 player is pretty good right now. 

            In terms of Budget, I do agree with Tarsier. This team does have financial flexibility for now but you have to look into the future as well. A team shouldn’t be conducted like the Nets. The Nets have crippled themselves financially right now and they got rid of a lot of good young potential talents in order to win now. I’m a believer that a team should look to win in the present but also set theirselves up for the future. The Spurs are doing a pretty good job of setting up their next era with guys like Green and Leonard. The Spurs is the ideal team for me. I tend to always look at them as one of the best run sports organizations in America and possibly the world. And this coming from a Pistons fan who’s still bitter about 2005.    

          • Aug 26, 201310:15 pm
            by Max

            No one on the Pistons will even be eligible to make as much money as any of the Nets stars for many, many years yet in NBA terms.   

          • Aug 26, 201311:09 pm
            by tarsier

            I understand that this argument is confusing you because it hinges on more than simply who is on the roster and how old they are. But my point is that an average roster is probably worth at least $70M or so. That means that a contending roster is probably worth over $80M. That means either paying guys a lot less than their worth or venturing well into the tax.

            Assuming the Pistons don’t have free rein to spend well into the tax (yes, I know this is a bit of an assumption; but, like I said, if you don’t buy it, we should be having a very different conversation), that means they need some serious bargains on the roster.

            I’m assuming the Pistons won’t be a contender this season. Since the overall opinion of most analysts tends to peg them as right about 9th in the East, this seems a fair assumption. So, barring a huge leap from Monroe, he will be anywhere from slightly overpaid to slightly underpaid for Detroit’s “window”. That won’t move the needle much one way or the other.

            I’m not a huge Jennings fan. But after Drummond, he is the biggest wildcard on the team. That means he was a prime candidate to be severely underpaid. That is why Dumars should have followed his Wallace/Billups mold and locked him up for the maximum number of years. This does come with the risk of significantly overpaying, but it would be worth it. Contending in the NBA is hard. Anyway, Jennings could be significantly underpaid for up to three years. After that, he won’t be. This analysis does rely upon the assumption that he won’t be signed long-term in the summer of 2016 before suddenly making a huge leap in his 8th year in the league.

            Smith has been in the league long enough that we know what he is. He won’t be suddenly making drastic improvements. He is fairly paid.

            Drummond has three remaining seasons of being severely underpaid. After that, who knows. His next contract may pay him fairly or slightly underpay him or drastically underpay him. I’m assuming he’ll be a max guy. But if his max contract does not represent a fantastic bargain at that point in time, who else will be left to be underpaid?

            I don’t see star potential in Pope and I don’t expect either of the two first rounders the Pistons land in the next three offseasons to be stars either unless this current cast is really disappointing.

            So what does that leave? The hope that Gores will be willing to go $10M+ into the tax after these next three years? That seems far-fetched. So we basically need to bank on Drummond or Monroe turning into a superstar worth a lot more than max money in order to extend that window beyond 2016.

            This isn’t all that different from OKC having a short peak window because they couldn’t afford all their guys. Except that they are still contenders, just less strong ones, because of their two superstars. Do you believe that Drummond+Monroe can be as good as Durant+Westbrook? Because that is basically what will have to happen if Detroit is to be as good beyond this rookie scale window as OKC is now (which I think still just puts them at maybe a 20% chance to win a title any given year). 

          • Aug 26, 201311:11 pm
            by tarsier

            “Most teams have higher priced top players than the Pistons do”

            Managing a budget better than most teams won’t make you a contender in the NBA. Most years, there are about 6-8 legitimate contenders. Most of those have at least one superstar who is severely underpaid because he can only make max money.

            If Drummond ends up fitting that bill, that makes a lot more possible for the Pistons. If he is only slightly underpaid on a max deal or he is even fairly paid, that makes things a lot harder. Because a lot of these other teams with underpaid talent will probably also probably have a greater overall budget. That would give them a double advantage over Detroit.

          • Aug 27, 20132:01 am
            by Max

            I wonder whether Jennings would have been willing to take on more years.   He wanted more than he got per year so he might have wanted a fairly short deal to put him in position for a future big score.    

            Maybe you have gotten an indication but I don’t think we really know yet what style of owner Gores will be in terms of the spending.   Let me ask you this:

            Let’s say the Pistons win about 45 games this year but are buzz worthy going into the first round, lose but have a good showing.   Let’s say next season they max out Monroe and also sign a decent piece–not a star but an extremely solid role player.   Now, Jennings, Smith, Monroe, Drummond and KCP could look like a good enough team to contend with more growth from Drummond and KCP at that point or they might not but the team will have plenty of trading options.   Now, let’s say that Drummond stays and continues to improves.  A couple of years from now most of the league’s contenders will probably not be contenders anymore.  Are you really saying you know that 2-3 years from now if the Pistons are looking like they are ready to contend and for the long term behind Drummond and whoever is left that Gores will not be willing to wade into the luxury tax?   How do we know that?  None of this really comes to a head until the team has to address Drummond’s next contract.   

            BTW: Not sure why are ready to say KCP doesn’t have star potential.  I wanted Burke like you did but KCP seems like he could at least be a special defender and one of the fastest players at his position to me.   I’m more worried about whether he will really be the outside shooter the team needs but he is supposed to be a good shooter.   You put that all together and consider how there are very few good shooting guards left with a lot of the top ones being very old and stardom for KCP looks at least somewhat possible to me.   Breaking into the top ten shooting guards isn’t setting the bar very high these days.   I haven’t given up hope on him yet.  

          • Aug 27, 201311:45 pm
            by tarsier

            That is a fair point, but it is usually a good bet that his agent would have tried to sell him on signing a deal for as many years as possible. Injuries are rarely worth risking for a player or his agent.

    • Aug 27, 20137:15 pm
      by G

      Reply

      You make some interesting points about the unconventionality issue, but keep in mind that after the championship Dumars tried several other unconventional tracks and was wildly unsuccessful. Winning the way the 2004 Pistons did required a good deal of luck as well as skill, and counting on luck is a poor bet.

      • Aug 27, 201310:29 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        That’s fair.  Two things though.  

        Even the best franchises and GMs have cycles of winning and it’s difficult to say what combination of moves were available that would have prevented the Pistons from going through a losing cycle.  After a great and sustained run the team was old and Dumars whiffed big time when he tried to avoid what is usually inevitable when he traded Billups for Iverson.  At that point the only possible foundational piece was Stuckey and he didn’t pan out.  He then compounded the problem when he used the backup plan of flexibility on Gordon and Charlie V.   Screwing up these two off seasons (Billups was traded two games in) and trying to build around Stuckey put the Pistons down in that losing cycle but four lottery picks later things are looking up.

        On that score: the best way to make your own luck is probably to hedge your bets.  I’d say this is tougher to do when a team is locked into a 20 million dollar superstar or just an old roster.   The Pistons now how four pretty valuable young players in Drummond, Smith, Monroe and Jennings along with some solid prospects who are all on tradable contracts so if one or two of the four main players doesn’t work out a trade to correct things shouldn’t be that hard and I hope I’m not being too optimistic when I think that at least some of the bets Dumars has made should work out–even if it’s just in terms of the numbers game.  He’s not building around just Stuckey anymore but four young players who are definitely starters in the NBA even if they haven’t proven they can play with each other.     

        I think it’s fair to doubt Dumars but I also think that it’s easier to make good moves when you have a good foundation and can see what tweaks should be made.   When the 04 group started to come together Dumars made a series of good moves and perhaps more importantly his moves added up to unbelievable chemistry.   Now that Dumars has a good foundation again it’s possible Dumars won’t have to do too much or that he will have the chance to make the necessary tweaks after seeing the group play together.   If Dumars doesn’t lose his job a year from now he should have a much easier time improving or maintaining the team than he did when his foundation was declining and falling apart.   

        Everyone praises the Spurs’ organization and I do too but I must admit I’m itching to see how they will handle things when Duncan finally retires because I think they are going to go through their inevitable losing cycle and people will see that it isn’t so easy for organizations to class or think themselves out of going through such cycles if I am right.   

        • Aug 29, 20136:43 pm
          by G

          Reply

          Dumars’ big red flags in the post-2004 era were handing out ridiculous contracts (Rip, Maxiell, Ben Gordon, & Charlie V all easily fit in that category), poorly identifying talent & fit (falling in love with combo forwards & combo guards that weren’t that good), and failing to identify the team’s status & direction (trying to rebuild on the fly & failing, then failing to let the team hit bottom).

          Of those three problems, the last falls into the “every team goes through cycles” category. The other 2 are decision & evaluation problems, and suggest that Dumars WAS relying on a bit of luck with the 2004 title.

    • Aug 30, 201312:38 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      In that short window where Shaq was getting out of shape and Wallace was at his peak, Wallace was better. For their careers? Not even close. Shaq my 1,000 miles.

  • Aug 24, 20139:31 am
    by hoophabit

    Reply

    This is the time of year when pieces like this are done to keep the faithful talking.  Many good points made here on both sides.  Bottom line is this team shows significant progress this year or Dumars is done.

    Otis, I have to say you have a knack for the pejorative comment.  I don’t find Dan a poor writer or irrational.  That said, I also don’t agree with him all the time and that’s okay.  “Fluky” championship?  That team went to 5(?) ECFs, two finals, and won one.  Yeah, just lucky I guess.  You seem like a bright guy so having a high opinion of your own opinion is reasonable to some degree.  However, there is room for people to disagree without their being flag waving homers or fools.

    This year’s team has been built to run, which can help to offset some of the spacing issue.  Playing the Piston front line will be a physical test for a lot of teams.  There’s the potential for a lot of good picks to be set.  The question of whether the Pistons have acquired enough shooting remains open.

  • Aug 24, 201311:27 am
    by Anthony J.

    Reply

    I know this doesn’t really have anything to do with the article but I did find a pretty interesting podcast. I may be a little biased because of my dislike of bleacherreport but I do NOT agree with half the stuff the one guy who was conducting the interview said. haha.

    http://bleacherreport.podbean.com/2013/08/23/basketball-by-association-2013-14-detroit-pistons-season-preview/

    • Aug 24, 201311:04 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Thanks for posting.  I enjoyed listening.   

      BTW: The podcast had three commentators who all predicted the Pistons make the playoffs with 45, 43 and 41 wins respectively.  

  • Aug 24, 20136:21 pm
    by danny

    Reply

    You know when you have people that can pass and move the defense it makes the floor open up?  There are certain plays we can run like low block screens to free up our athletic people.  We can have drops and zippers to free up others.  There are plays to get people space to operate, but I suppose people tend to look at numbers a bit too much.  

    • Aug 24, 201310:12 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      I hear you and I’m with you. 

      • Aug 24, 201311:57 pm
        by danny

        Reply

        Glad im not the only one, good to see that.

  • Aug 25, 20139:31 am
    by Corey

    Reply

    I am still tickled by all the people moaning about spacing when Drummond, Monroe, and Smith all play together. Let’s all say it again, together: they can all play 30+ mpg without all 3 ever touching the floor at the same time. Yes, they will all play together some. But if it doesn’t work well, they’ll shuffle the lineup around to put in more shooters and only play together 10 mpg tops. Problem solved. But let’s moan about it some more since we all hate Dumars!

    • Aug 25, 201312:01 pm
      by Anthony J.

      Reply

      I’m on the fence about that. I do understand and agree that the spacing issue with those three is not that big of a deal because they may only be on the court together for about 12-16ish minutes a night. But the bad thing about that is the fact that you WANT your best players on the court at the same time, especially in crunch time. I still think this team is in good shape even if all 3 only play together for about 16 minutes but there probably will be times where we need our most talented players on the floor together.

      • Aug 25, 20133:14 pm
        by Corey

        Reply

        I do agree with that. But feel that we have about two years to see if they can learn to work together. If not, someone gets traded. but this team needed talent. Fit is the next stage – and they need to play some games to see where we are on that.

        • Aug 25, 20139:26 pm
          by Anthony J.

          Reply

          That is very well true but I don’t think Dumars will wait 2 years because of the fact that Monroe is on his rookie deal and if this tandem doesn’t fit then he would be the ideal candidate right now to trade before he ask for a max contract. I don’t want us to trade a good young offensive Juggarnaut like Monroe so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

          • Aug 26, 20134:31 am
            by Otis

            Dead on. There isn’t 2 years to figure it out. Not really even one year, since I don’t think you’ll ever get fair value for Monroe in a sign-and-trade. I think you have to figure this thing out by the deadline.

  • Aug 25, 20134:11 pm
    by Nelson

    Reply

    it is agreed that in the past joe Dumars has put the pistons in a horrible spot ever since they traded away Chauncey in 08 but as of this year he looks to have made us into a playoff team and possibly a desirable place for free agents next summer such as maybe Carmelo Anthony which would be deadly if we moved Monroe and had a lineup of Jennings KCP melo smith and Drummond (in doing which the pistons become championship contenders) but this kinda situation would only be possible if dumars has a bit of common sense but if he doesn’t pick up any big aquisitions next summer then it definitely proves your point and we should move him. And we all know if we don’t make the playoffs then Dumars is gone. 

    • Aug 25, 20135:39 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      “And we all know if we don’t make the playoffs then Dumars is gone.”

      I’d just like to point out that I don’t know that. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Pistons missed the playoffs but Dumars was retained. Not the most likely scenario, perhaps. But totally plausible. 

      • Aug 26, 20134:32 am
        by Otis

        Reply

        I would eat every pair of shoes I own if we miss the playoffs and Joe wasn’t fired.

        • Aug 26, 20139:08 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          What if the Pistons have massive injury problems? What if the bar is raised in the East this year so it takes 45-50 wins to get into the playoffs? Neither scenario is particularly likely, but far from absurdly far-fetched.

          • Aug 26, 20133:08 pm
            by Max

            Overwrought Otis meet logical Tarsier.  

          • Aug 26, 20133:26 pm
            by CityofKlompton

            I’d just like to say that a part of me hopes this exact scenario plays out just so we can make Otis eat all of his shoes, haha.

          • Aug 26, 20133:43 pm
            by Max

            It would be the silver lining of the Pistons being bad.

          • Aug 26, 20136:58 pm
            by Anthony J.

            Agreed Tarsier. You are definetly one of not many commenters who use logic.

          • Aug 27, 20131:55 am
            by Otis

            Blah. Injuries shminjuries. Nobody is getting fired if there’s a rash of injuries. There’s legitimately a lot of talent on this team, and that’s coming from me, Otis. I’m as anxious/curious as anyone to see how it plays out and how this team continues to evolve. If the owner’s standard is as black and white as “make the playoffs at all costs,” Joe isn’t going to be fired if it’s obvious injuries robbed him of that chance. Spacing issues and all, this is a playoff team on paper.
             
            I will eat all the shoes if a healthy team misses the playoffs and Joe keeps his job. I’m a man of my word. But I absolve myself if injuries are a genuine factor. (I’m not worried about the bar in the East. If it’s just plain not working, you can trade Greg Monroe at any time to add to the wing and balance things out. We’ll be good enough in the East, because Joe’s job depends on it and at the moment he does have a lot of flexibility.)

          • Aug 27, 20132:04 am
            by Max

            I just agreed with everything Otis said.   

          • Aug 27, 20133:18 pm
            by tarsier

            There will inevitably be some injuries. What constitutes a lot? Over the past several years, the Pistons have had better health fortunes than most teams. We have to wait and see if that holds up. But I guarantee you that if the Pistons suffer even a below average amount of injury misfortune, people will blame any negative results on said injuries.

          • Aug 27, 20133:42 pm
            by Max

            Well, you were the one who brought up massive injury problems.  If that happens it should be pretty clear.  The Pistons have had one of the healthiest rosters in the league for decades and the only year I remember that I would blame on injuries was 2010 with the injuries to Prince, Hamilton and Gordon.  

            I do feel like the team has gotten deep enough that they should be able to survive the loss of any single player pretty well if the injury is in the 10-30 games range.   For one thing, an injury to any player in the starting lineup would actually help with some of the naysayers’ issues since the team could run out a more conventional lineup with another shooter.   If Jennings goes down the drop off shouldn’t be too steep at all with Stuckey, Bynum and Siva around and especially if Billups is healthy and effective.  

          • Aug 27, 201311:40 pm
            by tarsier

            And the loss of a single player for 10-30 games is exceedingly minor injury issues for a team’s season. Fortunately, the Pistons don’t have a particularly brittle roster.

            But losing two of Smith, Monroe, and Drummond for 25 games each would not constitute particularly bad injury luck. That would hardly qualify as being ravaged by injuries. That would just be a normal bother that most teams deal with all the time. And that would be more than enough to make the Pistons’ shot at a playoff berth very unlikely.

        • Aug 26, 20137:03 pm
          by Anthony J.

          Reply

          I think you need to put responsibility on the players as well. There’s no denying that this team has talent and does look like a playoff roster. That is what Dumars job is. To put pieces together that can make the playoffs. It’s up to the players and coaching staff to actually make it happen. I respect your opinion a lot Otis but I think Dumars passed with an “A” in terms of putting a team together that SHOULD make the playoffs.

  • Aug 25, 20135:00 pm
    by MrShourite

    Reply

    So many wannabe analysts. Good reading fellas. 

  • Aug 26, 20131:13 pm
    by anacaniwelk

    Reply

    The first thought Feldman has when he wakes up each morning, “How can I whine about the Pistons today.”  

    • Aug 26, 20134:01 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      I think Dan is taking way too much shit on this thread.  It’s sports writing.  It’s almost charming if he screws up, “sunken costs”.  There even seems to be some debate if he even did and it was clear what he meant.  It’s not as if his article failed to make sense or address what he brought up as a frequent comment.  Whether Dumars will keep his job or not is a real issue and one that is coming to a head.  It’s a natural topic.   I have been making the argument that the 04 run should factor heavily but there’s nothing wrong with the debate.  Dan obviously likes the Pistons.  He thinks Big Ben was the 3rd best player in 04.  Dan’s welcome to his doubts and they got quite a long thread going here with people on side and the other.   I say good job, Dan.    

  • Aug 26, 20135:13 pm
    by MrShourite

    Reply

    Post a new topic, please!!!

  • Aug 27, 20132:18 pm
    by DetroitP

    Reply

    Max I agree with most of your thoughts.  I really don’t write much (work a ton).  But I for one can’t wait for the season.  Bradon Jennings has never played with someone that can compliment him.  Josh Smith can make a leap.  Gotta just wait this out and see how it meshes.  People can have thoughts, but lets be real, no one knows.

  • Aug 27, 20132:21 pm
    by DetroitP

    Reply

    Gotta admit this, love this fan base.  My roommate is a Wizards fan I go through their boards here and there, its nothin like this.

  • Aug 27, 201311:29 pm
    by Samuel Small

    Reply

    All summer long, guys have been calling for Dumars head. Most of you mention the past as being what it is…the past. 6 trips to the Eastern Conference finals, two trips to the finals and 1 championship is in the past. Ok, got it. Two points…1) as I saw posted and forgot where, how many NBA teams have had that kind of run in the last 30 years outside of Chicago, Miami and the lakers? And how many teams would kill to have that run. Second, ok you fire Dumars. Exactly, who you bringing in to do better? I’m mean, can I see what the present brings before we start planning for the future. 

  • Aug 28, 20138:22 am
    by JYD for Life

    Reply

    You’re an idiot, Dan…perhaps instead of running an awesome fantasy team, you should spend more time trying to get an actual press credential from the Pistons.  I would love to see an article highlighting one of YOUR interviews with Joe.  Get a life.   

  • Aug 28, 201310:10 pm
    by Mike

    Reply

    That was rude man, the kids young.  He can make it there one day with hard work.

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    by learn to play guitar

    Reply

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