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Maurice Cheeks foolishly changes starting lineup then bickers with Will Bynum during blowout loss to Magic

Detroit Pistons 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
112 Orlando Magic
Greg Monroe , PF 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -11Monroe looked particularly lethargic early – calmly missing close shots, carelessly turning the ball over and lazily defending the post. He got it together later to salvage a decent enough line, but his overall performance was pretty sour.

Josh Smith, SF 41 MIN | 11-19 FG | 3-9 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | -13Smith was mostly a bystander as the Pistons fell behind double digits in the first half. He played very hard in the second half, mostly independent of his teammates. But by then, it was too late for his quality play to make much difference.

Kyle Singler, SF 32 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -22Singler was helpful offensively, making 3-of-4 3-pointers. And as hoped, his length both persuaded Arron Afflalo (5-for-14) not to post up and contest Afflalo’s jumpers. As feared, though, Singler was too slow to cover the shooting guard. Afflalo got space to set up his teammates, collecting seven assists. With the Pistons rotations strained as a result, the Magic all moved the ball well, dishing 29 assists. That’s much more Maurice Cheeks’ fault than Singler’s, though. Singler handled a difficult assignment the best he could.

Andre Drummond, C 39 MIN | 6-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -12Drummond was particularly aggressive on the glass early, really snatching rebounds regardless of who else was in his vicinity. Considering Drummond already leads the NBA in rebounding percentage (minimum: 400 minutes), that’s saying a lot. By the third quarter, Drummond was reduced to shaking his head while Cheeks talked during a timeout. This team will do that to you.

Brandon Jennings, PG 43 MIN | 5-23 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -16Dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, shoot. Repeat. Mix in a few passes. Dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, shoot. Repeat. Jennings’ nearly had as many shots blocked by Kyle O’Quinn (four) as the point guard made (five).

Jonas Jerebko, PF 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +3Jerebko got his turn in the rotation, and he didn’t do much – positive or negative – in his meaningful minutes.

Luigi Datome, SF 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6Datome played the final 1:43 and made an uneventful 12-footer.

Will Bynum, PG 3 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -4Bynum had a rough few minutes to open the second quarter, and Cheeks benched him. That’s where Bynum’s night really got interesting. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Will Bynum and Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks began jawing at each other on the Pistons’ bench at the 8:52 mark. Bynum, not usually the mouthy type, hadn’t had a good run to start the quarter, and Cheeks called a timeout to remove him for Josh Smith, as the score was just 32-28. The two obviously didn’t see eye to eye on things, and it took Chauncey Billups and Smith to calm Bynum down as the timeout wound, but the faraway look on Bynum’s face told it all — and he didn’t hear Cheeks call his name for the rest of the night.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 13 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +7As a starter or reserve, Caldwell-Pope has been prone to deferring. I know he got in the game. I saw him on the court once and everything. But I was shocked to see he played 13 minutes. It seemed like much fewer.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -8Stuckey showed up and got his points. That was about it.

Maurice Cheeks
Cheeks made his big move before the game began, starting Singler over Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard. Predictably, it didn’t work. Whatever advantage he had in a one-on-one matchup with Afflalo, Singler harmed the team defense more. He’s just too slow to guard the shooting guard position. That’s a critical problem when the Pistons also start Smith, Monroe and Drummond – a big frontline with its own foot speed issues. The foursome just can’t cover enough ground defensive. When Singler played shooting guard with the big three tonight, the Pistons’ defensive rating was 125.5. For the season, the Magic have an offensive rating of 98.6 – 25th in the NBA. The Pistons turned one of the league’s worst offense isn’t a juggernaut.

Alternate grade: A+ (if you want the Pistons to tank)

56 Comments

  • Feb 6, 201412:15 am
    by Smitty

    Reply

    This team plays in an alternate universe.

  • Feb 6, 201412:19 am
    by Jodi aka "The Guru"

    Reply

    Hey Oats and PistonFan, I told you guys Singler is a bum…The Magic players took turns abusing that dude on almost every possession…I’ve been trying to tell you guys we need a starting caliber 2 or good 3 on this team…
     
    Bad lost of these Pistons…Dumars needs to get to work in the front office…

    • Feb 6, 201412:21 am
      by Jodi aka "The Guru"

      Reply

      To be clear, I like Singler…I just wanted to point out that he isn’t starting material…So this messages goes to all the people who say we should play Monroe off the bench and start Singler…

      • Feb 6, 201412:42 am
        by Parsons

        Reply

        I really like Singler too but your right he’s a role player but on this team we don’t have a choice. We’re stuck between a rock and a chainsaw. Every “solution” creates 99 more problems not even Jay-Z could solve. Singler is a better SF than Smith and not nearly as stupid. Maybe playing players in their natural position ignoring talent would send a message to Dumars that basketball actually has positions and he should look for players who fill these specific positions. At this point though we’re not backed into a corner we’re on the edge of a cliff and losing balance fast. This team will not be .500 no matter what lineup we throw out. For Cheeks it should be about forcing Dumars to get off his pathetic ass and do his job for once. Rather than sit on his hands watching the deadline pass. I know he won’t though he ruled out trading everyone but Smith and Jennings and lets be honest no one wants them but us.

        • Feb 6, 201412:50 am
          by Jodi aka "The Guru"

          Reply

          I agree…
           
          Dumars definitely needs to off his a*s and make a trade…I just hope he makes a good trade, nothing ridiculous…

      • Feb 6, 20144:02 am
        by oats

        Reply

        @ Jodi. The argument always was that the 3 big lineup stinks and should be broken up. What’s more, I personally have said several times that I thought moving Singler into KCP’s spot was a bad idea. I even said so in response to you at least once because you said that the starter who you thought was the least deserving of starting was KCP and that’s who you would pull if you were going to insert Singler, although you did say that you wouldn’t actually do that because you think Singler is a bum. My response was that the purpose was to break up the 3 big lineup because Josh Smith is an absolutely terrible perimeter defender, and placing even a guy as bad as Singler out there is an upgrade over him. Pulling KCP just removes the team’s best perimeter defender and replaces him with a guy that really struggles to guard quicker SGs. This game actually was confirmation of that part of my argument and not in any way a rebuttal to what I was talking about.
         
        There is still only one game that has tested the idea that Singler would be better as the starting SF than sticking with the 3 big lineup. That game was against Atlanta where Singler started over Smith for bizarre disciplinary reasons, and Singler put up 22 points on 9-13 shooting in that game. If one game is enough to prove one of our takes right, and you are currently arguing that Singler is a bum based off this one game, then that means that I already won this argument back in November. It’s either that or one game is not actually proof of anything, which still means you’re wrong on multiple counts.
         
        While we’re at it, I’ve never argued that Singler was a starting caliber player. I’ve always maintained that he should be a role player. It’s just that the team’s other options at SF are so insanely terrible that he is in fact the best SF on the roster. I do think he’s gotten a lot better since last year and there is still some chance that he could turn into a starting caliber player, but I’d bet against it. I should also point out that I never had a specific player to send to the bench for Singler because the goal is just breaking up the 3 big lineup and emphasizing lineups that feature exactly 2 of the bigs at a time. I honestly don’t care which of them it is.

        • Feb 6, 20148:15 am
          by Pistons87

          Reply

          Singler is clearly the best SF on this team and should be starting at that spot.  Singler is not a SG and should not be starting there.  The situation is really not that complicated unless your Mo Cheeks.

        • Feb 6, 201411:24 am
          by pablum

          Reply

          @Oats. Completely agree that Singler is a defintitive role player, unless he magically develops a Jeff Hornacek like jumper, meaning the CONSISTENCY of Hornacek. But until that happens, if you’re starting him, you’re not a contending team. Still, the idea that he’s a 3 in the league is what I term a “Preposterous Rhinoceros” (with nods to Ionesco). Singler simply doesn’t have the physical tools to be a legit 3 in this league. And outside of our galling lack of shooting, the second biggest elephantine flaw of this team is that we’re — gasp! — SOFT. Athletic players that bang destroy us at every position. It’s a sin to our great Piston history.

          • Feb 6, 201412:58 pm
            by oats

            Singler’s a 6’8″ perimeter player who lacks the quickness to play the 2. He’s not a particularly good 3, but he’s a 3.

  • Feb 6, 201412:21 am
    by Parsons

    Reply

    Dear Cheeks,

    3 guys out of position will never work. Send your own message to Dumars by playing guys ONLY in their right position. Lets see how Dumars likes watching Monroe play ONLY center for 24 minutes and Drummond ONLY center for 24 minutes. Singler starting SF and Datome backing him up. Jerebko 15 minutes backing up Smith at PF. Tell Dumars I’ll play them just where they belong if you don’t like it get players who fit the team because this no position streetball BS will NEVER work. I’m not coach. I’m not a GM . I don’t understand why I saw everything that happened but the people who’s job it is to care couldn’t see it coming. Cheeks and Dumars are an embarrassment to NBA basketball. They are just far too stupid to be in charge of a multimillion dollar organization.

    • Feb 6, 20142:20 am
      by Ozzie-Moto

      Reply

      There are players in this league that can truly play more that one position well BUT WE DONT HAVE THOSE PLAERS.  Our players are all one position guys…. I don’t like any of them at there 2nd option   Not to Moose as a PF till he can make a 15 footer and defend better. No to Singler at the 2 (yea he a back up but all we have at the position)  No to Smith at SF (maybe just NO) …etc etc.  J DUMARS doent get it plain and simple.  We don’t have Scotty Pipen or Magic J or Labron …. our guys have a hard enough time at the natural position as it is ……

      • Feb 6, 20144:20 am
        by oats

        Reply

        I think the team has a few guys that can play multiple positions. I don’t think that shooting is actually a requirement to play PF since there are a lot of PFs that stink at it. I admit that Monroe’s defense at the 4 is pretty bad, but his defense at the 5 isn’t really any better. Either he has no position or he can play both, and those two scenarios might as well be the same thing. For that matter, Drummond’s only limitation from being able to do PF stuff is that shooting thing that is not actually a requirement, so I’d say both of them have 2 positions. Stuckey is a competent bench PG or a SG. JJ can play either forward spot equally well, he’s just not that good at either. I think Singler is closer to a small ball 4 than he is a SG, and KCP can play the 3 against another team’s small lineup. While we’re at it, Smith can totally play the 5 whenever the opponent uses a traditional PF in that spot. I wouldn’t hesitate to toss Smith out there on someone like Chris Bosh, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, or Jared Sullinger. That’s about the normal amount of versatility for an NBA roster.
         
        You are right that the team doesn’t have a Pippen, a Magic, or a LeBron. That’s definitely true. They don’t have a single player on the roster who is that good right now at any position, nonetheless someone that can play multiple positions at an elite level. That’s not the same thing as having no one that can play multiple positions though.

        • Feb 6, 20148:23 am
          by Pistons87

          Reply

          Why are people still obsessed with defining players as 4′s and 5′s.  You have bigs, wings and ball handlers.  Some bigs can shoot outside, some are post players and some are clean-up guys on offense.  Those same guys can either be strong post defenders, shot blockers or sieves on defense.  The important thing for the big man rotation is playing two guys that complement each others strengths and weaknesses.  A jump shot is not a requirement for a “4″.  However, I will say if neither of your bigs has a jumper your SF needs to be a shooter to create space by being a good shooter…Oops!

          • Feb 6, 201410:26 am
            by Parsons

            This is Cheeks/Dumars thinking that keeps burying us. You see it in Singler he can guard the 3 but struggles with 2s. Monroe can’t guard 4s and doesn’t have the offensive game to compliment most centers. Smith is an idiot thats closer to a 5 than a 3. He can’t shoot, can’t defend 3s, and he’s WAY too stupid to resist shooting his ridiculous jumpers. These are flaws only there if you take them out of their natural position. Away from a spot that emphasises their strength their flaws become the emphasis. There are a lot of versatile players that make transitions seemlessly but not on this roster. Most players have one position they excel at. Now we just need a coach smart enough to play them in their natural positions that they excel at. We’re playing positionless streetball not organized NBA basketball.

          • Feb 6, 201411:42 am
            by oats

            I disagree with the notion that Monroe’s offensive game doesn’t compliment most centers. Centers that are actual back to the basket post scorers are quite rare. I don’t know if it’s most of them, but a very significant portion of them are offensively limited players that are largely just finishers and pick setters. If the team that has one of those guys is going to get a scoring threat down low it will have to come from the PF. A reasonable of these guys are also solid cutters, and Monroe’s ability as a passer can create easy scoring opportunities for them. He actually is really good playing out of the high post due to his ability as a passer and his ability to get the basket off the dribble. This threat can create space down low for a center. He can also operate out of the low post while the center moves around to set screens and try to find back door cuts to the hoop. I think it should be painfully obvious that Drummond is basically an extremely talented version of this kind of center, and I would maintain that him and Monroe actually make a lot of sense as a pairing. As for Monroe’s inability to guard PFs, I’m not certain that’s even that important. Drummond could just guard whoever the better scorer in the opponents front court is regardless of their position while Monroe takes the weaker offensive player. The key to making them work as a pair is to put them in a lineup with 3 guys that can score on the perimeter and defend it at least a little bit.
             
            As for this so called problem of players on the Pistons being out of position, I’m not seeing it. I see one player who is used out of position and he makes everyone else look worse, although admittedly this attempt with Singler at SG did give them another guy out of position. Smith is definitely not a SF and that’s the one I’ll give you. I still believe that the Monroe and Drummond pairing works, and it’s important to note that what little evidence we have of how they play without Smith supports that belief. It might be a mistake to just always line Monroe up on the PF defensively, but that’s a scheme flaw and not a positional one. KCP is clearly a SG and Jennings is clearly a PG. I guess those Bynum and Jennings lineups are dumb, but they are used far too infrequently to rail about. Singler has played at the 3 almost exclusively this season and has actually played more PF than SG. Bynum is a PG and is playing PG. Stuckey can play either guard spot, but he’s probably a little better suited to the SG position that he spends most of his time at. I’m out of guys getting meaningful minutes on this team.
             
            The only real positional problem I see is Smith, and he spends about 60% of his time at the wrong spot. Other than that the problems stem from talent, fit, and scheme. Pairing inefficient chuckers with Monroe limits his touches. Drummond and Monroe need some shooters to surround them with and this team just doesn’t have them. The best perimeter defender on the roster is a rookie, and I’m legitimately uncertain if the next best is the often uninterested Stuckey or Singler and his frequent athletic disadvantages. The best post defender is Smith, and I’ve already mentioned that he spends 60% of his time at SF. They also aggressively switch their big men on to perimeter players despite the entire roster being bad at rotations. Offensively they stand around too much and don’t make use of a roster with plenty of quality passers in several positions. It’s not some problem with Monroe being out of position, it’s that this is a bad team with parts that don’t fit well and a bad coach.

    • Feb 6, 20141:51 pm
      by Tim

      Reply

      The idea that monroe is not a 4 (or capable of playing it) is ludicrous.  Is Z Bo a 4?  Sure, monroe is not a stretch 4, but there is no reason why he and drummond couldnt play well together with a legit sf on the floor and actual decent shooters at all 3 perimeter positions.  Monroe is a liability on defense at either position, and I would rather have him play with another big who can (maybe) help cover up his mistakes.  If monroe is the defensive backbone (playing the 5) we are much worse off than if there is someone behind him to hide some of this mistakes.
       
      If Cheeks wanted to change the starting lineup, he needs to either play stuckey at the 2 or singler at the 3 (or both).  Honestly though, as long as Jennings is the worst shooting pg in the league and our leading shot take, we are going to lose more than we win, even if we went back to a more conventional lineup.  

  • Feb 6, 201412:27 am
    by jg22

    Reply

    I don’t get it. The team was finally playing pretty good again the last few weeks. Why mess with it?
     
    I think Cheeks outcoached himself in this one – before the game even started

  • Feb 6, 20144:58 am
    by SuperStarRockDJ

    Reply

    I am loving this. Why don’t we extend Joe’s contract? This roster is bound for success. This organization is heading in the right direction. Only if I could vote for GM of the year, my vote would go to Joe. He’s my man.

  • Feb 6, 20145:54 am
    by @GPMasters

    Reply

    You have to seriously consider if we are actually tanking now. Everything is just too weird. That Pelicans non-timeout was the moment I started to believe it was true…

  • Feb 6, 20147:23 am
    by Windy

    Reply

    If your going to tank the Pistons are doing it in a whole new fashion. As Joe has stated they are trend setters, so let’s have the whole team hate the coach, get upset with one another and just give up…that’s the style of tanking we’re talking about in Detroit…at this point I have seen Smith, Bynum and Dre all have their moments with the coach…fans hate the product and are calling for basically everyone’s head! Now add in a few articles from veteran players like Billups about how the team doesn’t do any of the little things and we’re well on our way for totally destruction…But sadly in only piston fashion CV will probably dominate the last 5 meaningless games and but us right into that nasty grey area where we lose our pick as well!!! Well done boys!!! I bet this was the vision Phil Jackson and Joe D had at the beginning of the year when they brought in the acclaimed Mo “mo money mo problems” Cheeks!!!!

  • Feb 6, 20147:24 am
    by Windy

    Reply

    Mind you Lionel Hollins and George Karl are out of work yet we have Cheeks…please 

  • Feb 6, 20147:57 am
    by Eric

    Reply

    I have this strange feeling that we will end up being in a position in a few weeks were tanking is the only thing that makes sense, but since everyone else in our position will be doing the same it will be very tough to do. I hope I’m wrong, but I worry we will somehow find a way to get the ninth spot in the lottery which is the best case scenario for Michael Jordan. It is bad news when Jordan is in a position to get a best case scenario on a trade.
    I find myself rooting for tanking after every loss and wanting us to go for the playoffs after every win. This is a roller coaster of emotion that is unhealthy for an NBA fan. The Ben Gordon trade gives me nightmares. How can we remedy our many, many, many issues right now?

    • Feb 6, 201410:57 am
      by Huddy

      Reply

      I don’t thinking tanking would be that tough (not to say I think we should or shouldn’t do it).  I’m torn on what I want them to do, but if they choose to tank I think three teams currently below the Pistons fairly easily pass them.  New York, LA, and Sacramento.  New York is basically neck and neck with us and is the kind of team that isn’t going to quit trying because they simply can not go that route and keep Melo.  LA will be improved with Kobe back and he has the farthest thing from a losing attitude (this might be the shakiest to move up).  Sacramento significantly better with Rudy Gay, they had a bad stretch because of injuries, but all in all I think they have the talent and fit to be considerably better than the Pistons as they are playing now.
       
      I would probably throw Boston in this mix since they are better with Rondo back as well.  I don’t have much faith in the Cavs, but I doubt their ownership endorses tanking with the back lash they are receiving because of how the season is going.

  • Feb 6, 20148:15 am
    by Tired

    Reply

    Cheeks has to go now! The p istons don’t call plays anymore, they play street ball with everyone trying to create his own highlight basket for sportcenter! Notice how much time is left on the shot clock when they score. No ball movement, Will Bynum takes the ball the length of the court without passing every other possession, he has no concept of team ball. I can live with Josh Smith misses because he does so much more to make up for the missed shots. Unlike Singled who will give you a 5 point 1rebounds 0assists 0steals  3turnovers 4 fouls in 30 wasted minutes

  • Feb 6, 20148:59 am
    by Hook Shot

    Reply

    I agree that Cheeks has to go. He should never had been hired in the first place. His rotations and substitutions are a disaster.  starting Singler would solve a lot of problems with spacing and he is a glue guy. He is one of the few players who earns his check. Cheeks should have sat one if the “big three” a Lon time ago in order to balance the floor. Just brutal. Just tank. 

  • Feb 6, 20149:06 am
    by LT

    Reply

    cheeks should continue to receive a grade for a regular coach and a grade for a tanking coach

  • Feb 6, 201410:09 am
    by Mike

    Reply

    Just bench Monroe or smith. Make ONE of them the sixth man. Or seventh if you wanna bring stuckey first. They should be the best ROTATION of big men in the nba. Keep kcp in the game. He’s the only one who can defend… Start stuckey at 3 if you have to. Do SOMETHING that makes basketball sense, please Maurice Cheeks. Please. 

  • Feb 6, 201410:51 am
    by Clint in Flint

    Reply

    I guess it’s still illegal to tar and feather and run someone out of town on a rail, isn’t it? Maybe we should start a fund for a ticket out of town for Mo. I’d even be willing to contribute to a one way first class ticket. It might be a wake up call for Tom G. 
    The “Mo to Go” ticket fund.

  • Feb 6, 201411:07 am
    by pablum

    Reply

    “Alternate grade: A+ (if you want the Pistons to tank)”
    Dan, you write for Pro-Basketball, for ESPN, for the Freep and yet you continue to write about “tanking” as if it were so transparently obvious thing that all NBA times are wont to do — even though every coach in the NBA would go on record and call you out for such “bullshit” in print. (I’m sure that’s what they’d say, or that’s what they’d think).
    Now it’s one thing for fans on a forum to pontificate about tanking, or even an old man to pontificate about whatever idle thoughts run across his mind while savoring his beloved Pistons and the game of hoops itself, but it’s quite another for an established pro writer to consistently go on the record in print about tanking, without offering any context, or recognition that amongst actual NBA professionals the idea of tanking is an insult. An abject insult. It’s cheating, Dan. Pure and simple. You are blithely and consistently accusing NBA pros of cheating. Now you can ignore me all you want and pass me off as some pretentious nut job, which I would humbly disagree, but it won’t change the fact I am right on this and you need to do the responsible thing and explain yourself. Or not.

    • Feb 6, 201411:27 am
      by Huddy

      Reply

      Chad Ford (you know the guy who is the main go to for draft info in the NBA at ESPN) does a segment on ESPN called “Tank Rank” where he ranks how likely it is that NBA teams are tanking, trying, or rebuilding.  It is very common for sports writers to discuss tanking and is in no way irresponsible.  Tanking is not cheating.  It is a trade off.  Teams lose money, fan support, and exposure by pushing themselves to the bottom of the league for a lottery chance at players with varying amounts of upside year to year.
       
      The fact that coaches, GMs, and owners wouldn’t publicly admit to their fan base that they encourage practices that make their team more likely to lose isn’t damning proof that it doesn’t exist…it is an obvious stance that they must have regardless of whether or not tanking actually happens. 
       
      Teams trying to miss shots or blatantly lose is very unlikely in my opinion, but there are plenty of examples of teams making decisions that directly focus on future results as opposed to winning now, which is what tanking is.  (I think Tim has mentioned this before) Philadelphia traded away a young All Star point guard for a future pick and a player that is by all account likely to sit out the entire season…does that seem like a decision with winning in mind?  No, they are putting themselves in horrible position to win this year so that in the future they will have better picks and can hopefully build from there.
       
      I am not convinced of how prevalent tanking is in the NBA, but the draft system is set up in such a way that if it hadn’t crossed a GM’s mind they would be stupid.  The system rewards the biggest losers in a sport where single players can make huge impacts on a team…it is obvious that one would consider the option of trying to go from 27th to 30th for a year to get a top player instead of trying to get from 27th to first with lesser players.

      • Feb 6, 201411:46 am
        by pablum

        Reply

        Thank you for the genuine info/insight. It is appreciated (sincerely). But even in your explanation there’s such a a gray area of “cheating” potentially involved that I can only surmise this represents a giant chasm between sports writers and actual pros (at every level) of the game. I mean you actually write here that there’s a possibility teams who tank might actually try to “miss shots,” or even “lose.” (Even as you say this is “unlikely.” I can only imagine this view would be considered a disgraceful insult by pros in the league (at every level).
        And with the Philly example, if this is actually tanking, how could such a move not elicit mutiny by other players, in some way? Seems to me you’re a pro baller and you know any game could be your last injury wise, so why out it all out on the court when you’re team is just going to tank away seasons for a future you know your mind might very realistically never happen??
         
        I’, waiting for an answer, Dan. And Chad Ford has the same obligation. Because it has to be a fact when NBA pros see Chad Ford’s “Tank Rank,” they must consider him a complete idiot. Does anyone here possibly believe they would have any other reaction????

        • Feb 6, 201412:25 pm
          by Huddy

          Reply

          You are focused on entirely the wrong thing.  I wrote that I personally believe it is VERY unlikely that anything like that happens (missing shots on purpose, etc.).  I didn’t use any combination of words that would imply that I know with 100% certainty that it doesn’t happen because I (as surprising as it may be) do not play in the NBA and can not make that claim.  It is probably true that players and coaches would be offended if accused if intentionally throwing a game, but that doesn’t rule out any idea that tanking could exist. 
           
          You seem too focused on the player aspect of tanking because it is shameful that a professional athlete would be in any way involved with such practices.  In the Philly example, do you really want to know why everyone on Philadelphia’s roster wouldn’t mutiny this season?  I can think of a few reasons.  They want to again in their career get another quality contract so refusing to play or lashing out over a perfectly legal trade that their organization made that is focused on the future because they want to win now would be a ridiculous decision.  Maybe they are smart enough to understand that they didn’t make the playoffs in the terrible east last year so maybe thinking a little farther forward than just this one year makes sense if they want to win with this organization.  Players are one level of the organization and are very much at the mercy of the levels above. 
           
          Regardless of your position on Chad Ford or what you believe players think of him, my point in bringing him up is that he is one of the most prominent ESPN writers and frequently discusses the topic.  Dan Feldman is not in some tiny minority of professional writers that have used the word tank in print.  It is a commonly covered subject (by more than just those two) in the NBA.  Below is an article from Zach Lowe at Grant Land about possible changes to the lottery system that are being proposed because of concerns regarding tanking. 
          http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-nbas-possible-solution-for-tanking-good-bye-to-the-lottery-hello-to-the-wheel/
           
          I in no way want to convince you of the degree of tanking that exists or who specifically is, but it is a common subject in the sport and a sports writer covering it is 100% in the right to acknowledge the possibility that it exists.  It is not the fault of the players or coaches that the system tailors itself to this unfortunate practice, but that doesn’t change reality.

          • Feb 6, 201412:59 pm
            by pablum

            @Huddy@Haan — Much thanks again. I’ll definitely check out the Grantland article, though I was familiar with proposed change to the lottery system, which in part was apparently designed to negate tanking.
            My throwing down the gauntlet to Dan (and Chad Ford, and to the sports writing profession in general) still stands, even if the subject is commonly discussed in print. Bottom line is you are intimating cheating on some level. You can rationalize it all you want, and even appeal to an argument of popularity that “everyone just knows tanking goes on,” so as journalists it’s okay if write about it in print, but this is a cop-out (ihmo) and no credible journalist should do it without providing some kind of contextual proof or explanation –especially because ALL NBA coaches would vehemently deny it.
            Tanking doesn’t operate in a vacuum. When you tank you are DEFINITIVELY affecting OTHER teams, their playoff chances, positions, etc. You’re tanking isn’t just something benign for your own benefit. Ultimately it’s about the integrity of the game as a whole — and Dan, Chad Ford, and all professional sports writers damn well know this, all of which makes their jocular (“Tank Rank”), casual, and common discussions of tanking, frankly, INEXPLICABLE.
             

        • Feb 6, 201412:40 pm
          by Haan

          Reply

          If tanking means delivering a subpar performance in order to attain a desired team goal (better odds in the draft), then I think it’s important to distinguish who’s purported to do the tanking.  In my view, players never tank (for the sake of attaining an organizational goal), although they might let up for reasons of their own like thinking the game or the season’s not going to come to much.  I don’t think assistant coaches tank either — they want their player of interest to perform well (e.g., Sheed doesn’t want Drummond to forget footwork they’ve worked on).  Head coaches rarely tank, but they could under the right circumstances, but playing lesser, but younger, players if they have the luxury of long term security.  GMs and owners are the one’s who can and do tank routinely.  I’m guessing Danny Ainge would love to trade Rondo, in part to help the team’s draft odds.   If anyone’s going to do some serious tanking with us, it will need to be Dumars, with the trade deadline looming.  Gores doesn’t seem to have a tanking bone in his body, which is part of the problem, what with the foolish Gordon trade to get in spending position a year early as evidence (I think).  This isn’t an example of an owner tanking, but it is of an owner consistently taking the long term view: Robert Kraft of the Patriots has let one star after another walk in order to retain budget flexibility over a period of years. 
          Pablum, of course that’s just one man’s opinion.  The Pistons don’t seem capable of genuine tanking anyway, what with their eternal final two weeks runs to cost them draft positioning.

    • Feb 6, 201412:48 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      @ pablum. Dan actually isn’t saying the Pistons are or even might be tanking. He’s also not saying that NBA teams actually tank. He’s saying that if a fan wants the team to tank then they would approve of how Cheeks is doing his job.

      • Feb 6, 20141:02 pm
        by Smitty

        Reply

        Cheeks “Vote for Parker”. I approve this message.
         

      • Feb 6, 20141:06 pm
        by pablum

        Reply

        No he’s not OATS. He’s routinely — and irresponsibly (with all due respect) — on these pages directly implied that tanking is a factual feature of the NBA. And apparently he’s now ignoring that this very discussion even means anything, has any merit, even to his profession — (I can only presume, without conceit, because he thinks I’m a pretentious nut-job. But Dan, the truth is still the truth…) 

        • Feb 6, 20141:56 pm
          by D_S_V

          Reply

          Are you too caught up with the “tanking” semantic and its connotations? Really. Honest question. If you want to take the alternative route of calling it “rebuilding”, would that make it easier for you to comprehend that GMs routinely make personnel moves to decrease their chances of winning in a given season? They clear out on “overpaid” veterans who do not provide a legitimate long term winning and prevent financial flexibility. This and a handful of other moves that GMs of losing teams routinely make in order to increase their odds the ensuing lottery are documented happenings.
          No body on this board has suggested that say, Josh Smith has been specifically instructed to miss jumpers (his body of work is enough to disprove that theory), though that seems to be what you are running with. Same with the coaching – people agree with you that coaches aren’t specifically doing things to cause their teams to lose. Dan was making what I read a tongue in cheek joke about Mo’s questionable decisions and their lack of positive results fulfilling many here’s desire to lose more games and retain the draft pick. 

          • Feb 6, 20143:40 pm
            by pablum

            “GM’s routinely make personnel moves to decrease their chances of winning.” And you want to call that “Rebuilding”? As if it’s okay? As if such actions don’t directly violate the very integrity of the game because such actions IMPACT other teams? Switching sports for example: If the Detroit Tigers are in a close division race, but the Chicago Whitesox GM decides he’s going to tank for the reasons you described above and this allows other teams in the division to tie or overtake the Tigers then this is okay?(!) And Sports JOURNALISTS should just joke about it (tongue and cheek)? And even have segments on ESPN on it called “Tank Rank”??
            Is this really what everybody thinks?(bejesus belezeebub!). And all we hear from Dan on this is silence…because he’s apparently got nothing to say about a subject he actually wrote about as a lead story for his website, with other, genuinely talented journalists, on whether the Pistons should “tank or not” (i.e., “To Tank or Not to Tank”). Silence=Consent, Dan. 

          • Feb 6, 20145:33 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            “Silence=Consent, Dan.”

            I hope nobody ever falls asleep near you.

          • Feb 6, 20149:01 pm
            by D_S_V

            By the use of your punctuation marks, it seems as though you’re a bit disheveled with all of this. Well don’t get mad at me for this. It’s simply the state of professional sports. If you want the “real integrity” that you so describe, perhaps high school sports would be more of your thing? I wouldn’t say college because that is a business with its own politics involved as well, and with that said, I hesitate to even call high school all that “pure”. Anyways, your baseball analogy doesn’t really work to me, as a team in the Tigers’ own division would play the Tigers a similar amount of games as well, thus benefiting the divisional racers relatively equally. 

          • Feb 7, 20141:11 am
            by oats

            @ pablum. Baseball teams do something similar all the time. Every single year there are several teams that are trading away their best players for a bunch of minor league guys. That’s giving away wins now in order to improve the team’s long term projections. They wait to closer to the midpoint of the season to do it because the realities of losing in baseball are way different. In basketball there is a very high correlation between draft status and how good someone is, so getting a better draft pick drastically increases a team’s odds of getting the best player. What’s more, a basketball team is far more swayed by a single star player than a baseball team is. Baseball is much less about gathering stars and more about creating a deep roster. There also isn’t much correlation between draft status and pro impact. Heck, the best players in the baseball draft don’t always go first out of fear of not being able to sign that player. So the reward isn’t for getting the higher draft pick as much as it is in accumulating a number of players. The result is that baseball teams always make a go of it early on to see how good they are and to evaluate the trade value of their guys, but if they stink they move their best players for multiple prospects.

          • Feb 7, 201412:05 pm
            by pablum

            @oats@d_s_v. Oats, you of all people are unaffected by this? Tanking makes a mockery of any scientific/analytic approach to the game. Those stats are based on the premise that NBA pros are actually playing to their abilities, not throwing games. And again, where does a team draw the line in tanking? Is any act of tanking fair game?! It’s a nightmare and my old azz is embarrassed at my own naivete, but moreso, the whole fucking thing is highly depressing in that cheating is apparently required for success (for many teams anyway) and also in that Chad Ford et al make jokes about the whole sordid practice. But as I noted to Huddy, like my lawyer brother condescendingly told me, “Money’s involved. And in real life, People actually kill people over money.”

          • Feb 7, 20143:22 pm
            by oats

            I wouldn’t say I’m unaffected by this so much as I’m resigned to it. I’m pretty big on looking at what a system is set to incentivize. The current system incentivizes teams for being either really good or really bad. Really good teams make the playoffs and get the money that comes from selling out games even past the regular season. They also are more popular and that helps them make money off licensing deals. They also get players lining up to play for them on the cheap, which in turn helps them be good. This is clearly the best way to go.
             
            Really bad teams still make a profit financially as long as they don’t pay large sums in the luxury tax. They also get rewarded with high draft picks. Basketball is probably more effected by having a star player than any other team sport, and the surest way to acquire a star is to draft him. What’s more, if the player actually becomes a good pro in his first couple years he will be drastically underpaid at first due to the rookie salary scale. Having underpaid players is a huge advantage when trying to build a good team. If a team can get lucky and find a couple guys with star potential then they are set. If the team only finds one he might still be able to make them vaguely competitive. Plus having a star player increases the odds of acquiring another one, and that’s how they get really good. Even if they fail to find a franchise altering player, the mere fact that they have a high draft pick means they can try to sell their fans on the hope that the team will land a star player that will turn things around.
             
            What doesn’t make sense is being pretty much right in the middle. They don’t make significantly more money than the dregs of the league. They will routinely be picking in the late lottery or just outside of the lottery, and it is much harder to land those star players in that range. Depending on the draft that weak spot might even start quite a bit sooner. If the team clears up cap space they still won’t be that enticing for free agents because they have pretty mediocre rosters. As a result they tend to get forced into overpaying for guys which just makes it harder to get significantly better. Everyone eventually spends some time in this range, but a smart GM understands that they want the team to spend as little time there as possible. The inescapable conclusion from all this is that if the team isn’t going to be that good then they should be bad, and that means tanking.

        • Feb 6, 20142:03 pm
          by Huddy

          Reply

          I can see where you are coming from because accusations of tanking are based on analyzing decisions made by other and interpreting their reasoning, so it seems unfair to accuse people by interpreting their reasoning.  The problem I have with that is in this situation if I can only find out if tanking exists by being told by a GM or Coach that they are doing it then how on earth would anyone ever get the truth?  Your outrage at the accusation is exactly the outrage GM’s and owners would face if they were to admit to such a strategy and coaches answer to those same GMs and owners.  Essentially the only way to discover if tanking exists is for someone to vilify themselves, which will never happen.
           

        • Feb 6, 20148:20 pm
          by Huddy

          Reply

          Well that about sums it up.

        • Feb 6, 20149:14 pm
          by pablum

          Reply

          First, Dan, my Piston compatriots never fall asleep when we are watching our warriors; as you might guess, we’re drinking the finest bordeaux (chateau Margaux), savoring the finest legally medically prescribed puffy, and raging our heightened hoops opinions in to that good night of Pistondom, as often as we can, I dare say.
          Second, my sincerest thanks for the superb and enlightening articles (esp. Royce Webb). And though you’ve proven me senile, you’ve also confirmed what my fellow Piston compatriots have informed is what they teach in your grad schools these days, namely that nothing is real. Yours is a world where stye trumps substance, representation supplants image, tanking is apparently a fabric of the game. Can any ONE amongst you condemn me an old man who would dare to have ideals? Ahem.
          Lastly, I still can’t make sense of it. I mean what crosses the line? Is there some unwritten rule book on tanking? Is actually trying to miss shots prohibited? Are turnovers of any kind okay? Does it matter if you’re throwing a game that affects making the playoffs or not? Etc., etc.,.  
          Or is everyone, including most sports hoops writers, just “in on it,” and so it’s no big deal, not enough anyway to dissuade any of these, ahem, little questions. Yep, some serious questions.
          And I know when I want to address serious questions there’s always one place I turn, and that is to the gambling community, because I always know i’ll get the most objective facts.
          So the gambling community is in on the tank too?

          • Feb 7, 20149:59 am
            by Huddy

            You seem to be exaggerating the effect on the game (and what about tanking is style over substance, it is in no way stylish, it is a sad boring method of trying to compete with the elite in the league).  There are omly a handful of teams in any position for this to have any effect and as far as how those losses effect the playoff hopes of others…a team fighting for the playoffs should beat the 27th ranked team as well as the 28th ranked team.  The system is flawed.  Upsets are extremely rare in basketball and the lottery rewards losers.  That doesn’t make the teams at fault, they are simply doing there best in the system they are given.  On the other end of the spectrum there are very good teams like the spurs getting fined for resting players because they have no incentive to risk injury to their stars and the rules allow it.  
             
            Tanking isnt putting undeserving teams in the championship picture and for the most part has failed for everyone who tries (excluding OKC).  It should be addressed, but doesn’t change the game that much.  There’s no point in spelling out rules for tanking, making individual mandates for anything that could contribute to tanking is tedious and stupid.  The system simply needs to disincentivise the process as a whole.

          • Feb 7, 201411:33 am
            by pablum

            @Huddy. Had a talk with my twin elder in L.A. about this. He’s a lawyer, far more jaded than I (and many several Hundred K richer). And he tormented my naivete. “Bro,” he said, “Money’s involved. Why, do you know in the NFL they put bounties out on players? They pay their own players to actually injure other players.” And I muttered, “But, but, but, NBA teams are knowingly throwing games and rationalizing it as just a “part of the game” that doesn’t mean anything, and no harm done in the end, because everyone apparently does it, and people even claim it doesn’t really work, and Chad Ford has a “Tank Rank” segment, and so I’m left alone in my Platonic cave to confront what a rube I am, how naive I am, how little I know of the actual game I have loved for 40+years! An old man in his old man cave dealing with the chilling realization that NBA teams actually, verifiably, INTENTIONALLY lose games”! “This is what I’ve been reduced to, my brother!”
            And he said, “Bro. Money’s involved. People actually kill people over money. You, know.”…

  • Feb 6, 201412:41 pm
    by Smitty

    Reply

    Cavs GM just got shit canned.

    • Feb 6, 20141:23 pm
      by pablum

      Reply

      Not a surprise. And I will be pretentious. I saw Dan Gilbert at the DIA some weeks ago. Laugh y’arr asses off. It’s true. I can easily prove it. Anyhow, I had a second to chat with him about the Cavs. (Laugh y’arr asses off; we were at a black-tie vip endowment event; being an old time Detroiter has its perks). Anyhow — I mentioned to Dan how I loved seeing his kid on draft night make the Cav’s draft picks and he gave me a big smile and thanks. Then I mentioned the Bennett pick and he rolled his eyes and went off, as anybody who knows him, knows he does. There’s no pretention in him, even though he’s a billionaire semi-Republican (though by today’s GOP standards, he’s “wacko liberal”). If you go to Russell Street Deli in Eastern Market, you occasionally will see him him there eating with a half-dozen 20/30 year-old kids who are on his staff. He just eats at Russel Street Deli like any normal guy! It’s shared/practically open seating. So anyway, Smitty, this was brewing! 

  • Feb 6, 20141:06 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    WoW at this:
    “When Singler played shooting guard with the big three tonight, the Pistons’ defensive rating was 125.5. For the season, the Magic have an offensive rating of 98.6 – 25th in the NBA. The Pistons turned one of the league’s worst offense isn’t a juggernaut.”
     
    That’s what a bad coach can do. Play his favorite guys in the wrong positions to make them happy instead of win games.

  • Feb 6, 20144:41 pm
    by freeparty

    Reply

    Monroe would be more effective as a role player off the bench a la corliss williamson for this team.  Monroe is not as aggressive as Smith offensively, thus the low production.  Run him with Stuckey and Bynum, Datome and JJ.  More balnaced play would be nice to watch.

  • Feb 7, 20144:23 pm
    by T Casey

    Reply

    This team is a disaster… Enjoy.

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