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Do the Pistons have a plan for Greg Monroe this summer? They better

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons not making a move at the trade deadline probably was OK.

Unless it was an utter disaster.

Sure, it would have been nice if the Pistons unloaded Josh Smith or got value for the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey or Charlie Villanueva. But missing those opportunities won’t cost the team in the long run. This summer, Smith’s contract will be shorter and more tradable, and Stuckey and Villanueva will come off the books and offer enough salary cap room to add an impact player.

But not trading Greg Monroe? If that was a mistake, it’s irreversible.

Hopefully, it wasn’t a mistake.

For the record, I wanted the Pistons to keep Monroe. I believe he can play with Andre Drummond (though with Smith at small forward), and I like Monroe’s efficiency-based skill set. He obviously needs work defensively, and he’s not a great athlete. But at 23, he likely hasn’t peaked.

However, as I’ve said since the extension deadline passed in October, the Pistons should keep Monroe past the trade deadline only if they’re willing to give him a max contract this summer.

Now, I wonder how certain the Pistons are about Monroe. Did they decide they’d pay him max money if necessary? Or does Gores just want the team to make that choice when he sees fit, regardless of how big a bind the timing puts the team in? This was the last chance to trade Monroe in a non-sign-and-trade, so deferring the decision would only mean fewer options.

Complicating matters, the Pistons might have a new general manager when Monroe hits free agency. After Gores stepped in to fire Cheeks, Joe Dumars might not carry the same power within the organization anymore. Could he even trade Monroe if he wanted to?

Hopefully, someone in the front office who will remain there this summer — even if it’s Gores himself — drove the decision to keep Monroe and did so for all the right reasons. This would be simpler if the Pistons had a more stable general manager, someone executing a multiyear plan. If they don’t, though, the responsibility falls to Gores to ensure that the long term is accounted for.

If the Pistons made a conscious choice to keep Monroe because they’re willing to give him a max contract, we’re fine here. But if they’re just delaying their assessment of Monroe’s value, they’re asking for trouble this summer.

Pistons stand pat at NBA trade deadline

Not surprisingly, the Pistons kept relatively quiet during Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

Detroit’s silence at the deadline should have been expected. There were Josh Smith rumors floating about, and there were murmurs of minor deals — Will Bynum for Jerryd Bayless — but no small trade was going to make this dysfunctional roster much better.

It’s not flashy, but by keeping Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva means the Pistons will have over $16 million in cap space this summer — which will be beneficial to whoever’s in charge.

The issue is who makes the next move. This is a franchise that just fired Maurice Cheeks after 50 games on the job, and that move alone says a lot about owner Tom Gores — and probably more about how the Pistons would handle business at the deadline.

Joe Dumars is in the last year of his contract, and the fact that his coach was fired so quickly says, I think, a lot about how he’s viewed by ownership; there weren’t going to be any more mistakes made.

It appears Gores was the one who wouldn’t allow Dumars to spend more money on a mid-season replacement like Lionel Hollins, so why allow him to make more of a mess before his contract runs out this summer?

From everything we’ve seen, it looks like Dumars tried to wiggle out of his latest mistake (Smith), albeit to no avail.

Now, you just have to wonder if it was his last trade deadline in Detroit.

Al Jefferson, Bobcats pound the Pistons for a second-straight night

Detroit Pistons 98 FinalRecap | Box Score 116 Charlotte Bobcats
Greg Monroe, PF 31 MIN | 5-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -26You ever seen a kids’ basketball game? You know, one where everyone is huddled in the paint and there’s no room to do anything? That must be how Greg Monroe feels every night. He struggled mightily, missing his first nine shots of the night. He wasn’t bad in his stint defensively against Al Jefferson late, though.

Josh Smith, SF 41 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -26He padded his stats late in the game, but he struggled right alongside Monroe. Both struggled with the interior demon known as Bismack Biyombo (five blocks) and Smith couldn’t keep up with the Bobcats’ supastar stretch-four, Josh McRoberts (three 3-pointers).

Kyle Singler, SF 29 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -20He’s solid, he’s steady and he did what he’s out there to do. Singler made both of his early 3-point attempts, he didn’t get burnt too horribly on defense and that’s about it. He is what he is, and his 3-point ability helps the starting five.

Andre Drummond, C 33 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -12Do you think Drummond will wake up late tonight in a cold sweat thinking about the awful things Al Jefferson has done to him the past two nights? Drummond’s a great young player, but his weaknesses as a post defender have been totally exposed in these last two games — albeit against arguably the craftiest post scorer in the NBA.

Brandon Jennings, PG 35 MIN | 7-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -17He let his emotions get the best of him late in the game, collecting a pair of technicals and an early trip to the locker room, but he was decent otherwise with six assists and just two turnovers. Kemba Walker piled up 24 points, 16 assists against him, but he only shot 8-for-20.

Tony Mitchell, PF 1 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2Mitchell came in and made an effort play, grabbing an offensive rebound. The only problem was Jeff Adrien blocked his put-back.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 20 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +4There haven’t been many personnel differences between Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer — except the sudden emergence of Jerebko. It’s tough to watch him play these days. He was such a fun, grimy player when the Pistons drafted him in 2009. Hopefully he realizes that he should rebound and defend, not float around and shoot long-2s.

Luigi Datome, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2His beard and pony tail looked stylish, as always.

Will Bynum, PG 21 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -2Solid night’s work from Bynum, who has been the other player revived by Loyer. Bynum worked well against Walker, he didn’t fare too poorly on his wild drives to the basket, and his eight-assist, two-turnover night is a refreshing reminder of what he’s capable of on a good night.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4Poor kid did absolutely nothing but stand around and run up and down the court for three minutes. I don’t know that he’s hit a wall physically, but it sure as heck looks like he has mentally.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 23 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +1Who knows if Stuckey (or Jerebko or Bynum or Smith or Monroe) will be Pistons by 3 p.m. on Thursday, but Stuckey rebounded nicely from a nightmarish 1-for-11 night against the Bobcats on Tuesday. If this loss means the Pistons are changing course from playoffs to lottery, getting rid of Stuckey’s production would jumpstart the tanking.

John Loyer
It’s funny, against San Antonio and Cleveland, Loyer had the Pistons playing defense. They were legitimately trying and having some success forcing turnovers and generating offense off of that. But against the Bobcats it’s been absolutely the opposite. Charlotte is legitimately a good defense, so the frustration created by that may have an affect on the Pistons’ defensive effort, but watching both of these defenses is like night and day. Loyer can only do so much — he’s an interim coach for a reason — but he hasn’t looked a whole lot better than Cheeks four games, and three losses, into his tryout period.

Pistons face Eastern Conference’s toughest remaining schedule

3-on-3: How big are these Bobcats games?

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Pistons will have a big two-game set against the Charlotte Bobcats — a team they’re chasing for the East’s final playoff spot. How big are these two games?

Dan Feldman: As big as a mid-February back-to-back can get. Not only will these two games essentially count double as the Pistons try to make up ground in the playoff race, they could determine the Detroit’s direction as a franchise. I expect the Pistons to stay the course regardless before Thursday’s trade deadline, but if they’re pondering a move — buying or selling — these two games could make the difference.

Patrick Hayes: In a normal playoff race, they’d be huge. But this year in the East? I’m not convinced. Of course the Pistons would feel much better about their chances if they come out of this with a sweep, but I’m not fully convinced the Bobcats organization wants to make the playoffs that badly — seeing a team like Cleveland surge past them, meaning they’d get two lottery picks if Detroit doesn’t get bad enough to finish in the top eight wouldn’t be a bad scenario for the team as it gets set to launch its re-brand next season. The Pistons could falter in one or both games and still likely have plenty of opportunities to gain ground in the race for the eighth seed later on.

Jameson Draper: These are big games. Not necessarily because of the actual standings and playoff spot, but it will kind of set the tone for the second half of the season and it will give us a good view of where John Loyer‘s new team is headed for the next couple of months.

2. Aside from two games in the standings, what can the Pistons gain from sweeping the Bobcats?

Dan Feldman: For one, they’d get the tiebreaker over Charlotte. Only a sweep would win it, because the Pistons lost to the Bobcats in December in the first game of the three-game series. More so, they would hopefully get a renewed sense of purpose while putting their opponent in a crisis of confidence. But that depends how the games go. The Pistons would have just a half game lead, and there’s no logical reason for Charlotte to panic no matter what happens. The Pistons have the hardest remaining schedule (based on opponents’ combined winning percentage) in the Eastern Conference, and they have the third-highest percentage of remaining games on the road.

Patrick Hayes: Well, hopefully a two-game sweep of the Bobcats wouldn’t give the Pistons too much confidence, considering it is still the Bobcats after all. But they would gain ground in the playoff race, they would own the tie-breaker  and they would start the post-All-Star stretch run with a bit of positive momentum.

Jameson Draper: They can gain experience and confidence. Sweep the Bobcats? You just swept a playoff team. Not only will that give them the confidence needed to go out and beat other better teams, but it will give them experience as to what they’ll need to do to get a win.

3. What kind of impact might it have on the Pistons if they go the other direction and get swept at the hands of the more consistent Bobcats?

Dan Feldman: That would put the Pistons 2.5 games out of playoff position 114 days into the season. While that might not seem like much, it is. In the previous 10 years, nine teams have been between two and three games out that far into the season. Eight of them missed the playoffs. It wouldn’t be impossible for the Pistons to come back, but it would be an uphill battle.

Patrick Hayes: I don’t think it will have any. With Maurice Cheeks‘ firing, the goal is still pretty clearly making the playoffs. Falling 2.5 games out of eighth place would certainly be a setback, but come on … it’s the still the Bobcats, a team that has only made the playoffs once in its franchise’s existence. Charlotte is improved, but as I said above, they have incentive to both make and miss the playoffs. Making them gives the team positive momentum and a proof point that they’re young talent is improving heading into the big Charlotte Hornets relaunch last year. But missing while hoping the Pistons also miss but don’t get too terrible would potentially give them two lottery picks in a great draft to add even more to their improving young core ahead of next season. This is not a traditional playoff race, so I expect the Pistons to have plenty of chances to get back in it even if they falter.

Jameson Draper:  I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I’m going to anyway. If they get swept by the Bobcats, the Pistons will not make the playoffs. That will set the tone negatively for the second half of the season and wipe away all confidence they might have gained from their little winning streak last week.

3-on-3: Future Pistons All-Stars

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Andre Drummond will make at least five All-Star Games in his career.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Fact. I feel a little uncomfortable picking any player whose never made an All-Star Game to make five, but Drummond is just that promising. And really, he’s on an OK track. Of the 120 five-time All-Stars in NBA history, just fewer than half made an All-Star Game in their first two seasons. Two-thirds, though, made one by their third season, so Drummond better get going.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: Fact. For Drummond, getting to the first one will be the hardest part. The Pistons can help him achieve that by, you know, not being the least interesting team in the league and not underachieving, hopefully starting next season. Drummond’s game is so productive and so exciting and crowd-pleasing that once he gets a little attention, it’s pretty easy to see he’s going to be a fixture in All-Star games.

Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press: Fact. Let’s face it; Drummond is probably playing at an All-Star level right now. Averages of 13.1 points, 13 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots definitely look the part. In February, those averages jump to 16.1, 14.7 and 2.3, and he leads the NBA with 5.4 offensive rebounds per game. And since this is for you stat heads, he is grabbing nearly 18% of available offensive rebounds and has a PER of 22.4. Looks like a perennial All-Star to me – as long as he keeps improving and his teams are competitive.

2. Fact or Fiction: Greg Monroe will make an All-Star Game in his career.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Fiction. The crop of quality big men has grown in the last few years, and Monroe has not progressed as greatly as hoped – pushing him down the pecking order just a little bit. Still, he’s in the fringe range, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ultimately became an All-Star. Playing for a better team, especially if he remains in the Eastern Conference, would help his case. And yes, that team could be the Pistons.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: Fact. Monroe’s already been decently close once, back before the East did away with the center position. He doesn’t have the athletic advantages Drummond has that draw attention to his game, but Monroe is an efficient offensive player, a strong rebounder and it’s not a stretch to envision him putting up All-Star numbers for a season or three on a more balanced roster down the road.

Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press: Fiction. I think there is room for growth here. Those that think Moose has reached his ceiling are goofy. But I am beginning to wonder if Monroe will ever be the main or second option on a good team. If he’s just a very good No. 3, don’t see him making an All-Star team.

3. Fact or Fiction: A current Piston besides Drummond and Monroe will make a future All-Star Game in his career.

Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Fiction. The only current Piston who has ever been an All-Star is Chauncey Billups, and he’s definitely not making it back. Josh Smith’s best days are behind him, and he never made it in his prime, though I can’t completely rule out a late breakthrough. Brandon Jennings has the talent to work his way onto the periphery of the All-Star discussion and is young enough to do so, but considering he’s not even in the discussion at this point, that seems like a longshot. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, because his age creates high variance for future career arcs, might have the best chance. I just don’t see him reaching that level, though.

Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered: Fiction. There are only three real candidates, and all have issues. Josh Smith is not getting younger, he has yet to make one and he’s having a poor season. Time is running out for him. Brandon Jennings is certainly dynamic enough to envision as an All-Star if he ever figures out how to play under control, but the East is pretty loaded with young star guards — Derrick Rose when healthy, Kyrie Irving and John Wall are all significantly better than Jennings right now and all are also still young enough that improvement is not out of the question (with a major caveat being the impact of Rose’s injuries as an unknown). My wildcard would be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He hasn’t played very well this season and he’s falling further and further down the rotation, but his defense has shown great potential and if his three-point shooting ever comes around as advertised, he’ll be a legit three and D scoring wing in a conference where the shooting guard position is largely unproven behind the aging Dwyane Wade. KCP is truly a longshot, but there’s still a slim chance he could develop into an Arron Afflalo-type player. Afflalo didn’t make the team this year, but his numbers are certainly All-Star worthy. He represents a nice best-case for KCP.

Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press: Fiction. Too many great point guards for Brandon Jennings too make it. If Josh Smith didn’t make it in earlier seasons with the Hawks, it’s probably not happening in the future. The only other guy with a shot would be rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. I think he will be a good player in the future, but nothing close to an All-Star.

3-on-3: Pondering the trade deadline

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. The NBA’s trade deadline is just six days away, and the question is simple: Do you think the Pistons will make a trade this week?

Dan Feldman: No. For one, I’m not convinced what trades Joe Dumars is even authorized to make. He apparently can’t choose who coaches the team the rest of the season. Also, Tom Gores’ last interview suggests he likes this roster, at least for now.

Brady Fredericksen: I do, but I also do not. After the whole coaching-debacle, I’m not sure Gores is even going to give Dumars enough leeway to make a hail mary of a deal at the deadline. At the same time, they almost have to do something. This team’s ability to shoot has gone from being funny joke to sad reality. With big, fat expiring deals from Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, there has to be some sort of bad-contract-for-bad-contract trade out there.

Tim Thielke: If I had to put a number on it, I’d consider the odds less than 50 percent, but more likely than most seasons.

2. Is there one Pistons player that you feel has the greatest chance of being traded?

Dan Feldman: Stuckey. Because he’s been reasonably productive and has an expiring contract, he could be helpful in a trade whether the Pistons are buying or selling. For the same reasons, he’d appeal to the most teams.

Brady Fredericksen: Stuckey. I don’t think they necessarily want to trade him or Greg Monroe for that matter, but Stuckey is a valuable trade chip for two reasons. In the final year of his contract, he’s been the NBA’s most consistent bench scorer, and he’s got that $7.5 million expiring deal. If a true contender acquires him, they can sit back, benefit from his contract year surge and then watch all that money melt away this summer.

Tim Thielke: Monroe or Josh Smith has to be the most likely because they and Andre Drummond have the most value to another team relative to how much they have to Detroit. And I just can’t see Dumars trading Drummond even if a great offer came along.

3. If the Pistons were to make a trade in hopes of getting over the hump of mediocrity, who is a player they should target?

Dan Feldman: Trevor Ariza. I totally stole this idea from Patrick, but how about Stuckey for Ariza? The Pistons need a wing shooter, and the Wizards need a backup guard capable of playing the point. Both have expiring contracts, so this would totally be about re-configuring rosters to fit better.

Brady Fredericksen: I’ll admit that I play around with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine way too much. If reports of the Pistons being locked into keeping Monroe are true, the guy I think would make sense for them to target is Eric Gordon. He’s injury prone, yes, and he’s vastly overpaid, but he’s only 25 and he’s the king of shot-creating guard the Pistons need. What if New Orleans took a Smith for Gordon deal? It seems farfetched, but they’d be exchanging bad contracts and getting a player who fits very well on paper with Anthony Davis.

Tim Thielke: Definitely a shooter. But which depends on who they’re planning on giving up. Going after someone on a tanking team makes sense because they don’t mind getting worse. That includes Gordon, OJ Mayo, Arron Afflalo, Jeff Green, Ben McLemore, and Alec Burks among others.

Pistons firing coaches isn’t their problem

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons fire too many coaches like doctors remove too many tumors.

The extraction isn’t the problem.

Of course, doctors don’t hire tumors, so the analogy is as imperfect as a Maurice Cheeks playing rotation. But the Pistons’ issue isn’t firing coaches too frequently.

It’s too frequently getting to the position where firing a coach makes sense.

Detroit has fired eight coaches since Joe Dumars became general manager in 2000 — more than any other NBA team in that span. It’s easy to point to that number and say the Pistons are too impatient, too unforgiving.

But in the moment of those firings, the Pistons usually have been right.

There are two lessons here, one from the first half of Dumars’ tenure and one from the second half.

As the second half shows, hiring a good coach is imperative. If you don’t have one of those, you’re just biding time until you figure out what you do have.

But as the first half shows, that’s not enough. Even good coaches need front-office support, a general manager who’s committed to helping them reach both the players and owners.

Lately, the Pistons haven’t supported their bad coaches. It’s an awful combination doomed to failure.

The only thing the Pistons have done consistently right with their coaches is fire them.

3-on-3: Figuring out John Loyer

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1.  John Loyer‘s debut as interim coach came in a big win over the Spurs. Should we take anything from this?

Dan Feldman: That Loyer is comfortable as head coach. It’s far too early to say whether he has the communication and strategic skills necessary to succeed as a head coach, but he’s no shrinking violet in the head chair. That’s a step in the right direction.

Brady Fredericksen: Not yet. There was going to be a bounce in the Pistons step with a new voice leading them, so I think it’s half Loyer and half just not having to deal with Maurice Cheeks. Beating the Spurs is beating the Spurs though, and while there weren’t any huge, visible differences, it’s still refreshing to see the team rise up against a good (albeit injured) team.

Tim Thielke: Yes, he had a good start in his first game. We should weigh that first game just as heavily as any other one game. That’s to say that it counts, but not for much.

2. What was the biggest difference between Loyer and Cheeks?

Dan Feldman: So far, that Will Bynum re-joined the rotation. The defensive schemes looked the exact same, and the offense was similar enough. But Loyer had only one day to prepare. I wouldn’t be surprised if Loyer makes bigger changes soon.

Brady Fredericksen: LOYER DOESN’T SEEM TO POSSESS AN INSIDE VOICE! It felt like the Pistons’ offensive emphasis was to play through Greg Monroe and not Josh Smith. The offense looked good that way, too. The only other difference was the tempo and subsequent ball movement. This is a group that plays well when they’re on the break, and the amount of running and passing we saw on Monday was probably better than anything they’ve done in the last month or so. They also turned in their best first-half defensive performance — holding the Spurs to 48 points in the first half — since a Jan. 7 loss at New York.

Tim Thielke: The visible difference from that one game was how active he was on the sideline. But most differences in sets, rotations, strategies, philosophies, etc. (you know, things much more important than whether you sit or stand during a game) will have to be revealed over time.

3. What is the one thing that Loyer is going to have to focus on if the Pistons are going to turn a corner and make his impressive debut more than just a one-game flash?

Dan Feldman: Making Monroe a successful defender. Monroe is not a great defender, but his weaknesses are minimized when he’s engaged and the system doesn’t ask too much of him. Monday, he was engaged in a way he hadn’t been under Cheeks since early in the season. The next step is more often putting Monroe in position to succeed. Monroe could be the key piece that swings the Pistons from bad to good defensively.

Brady Fredericksen: Consistency. Wins over the Spurs, Heat and Pacers have shown us that the Pistons are capable of beating anyone on any given night. The problem is losses to the Jazz, Bucks and Magic show they’re also capable of being beaten on any night, too. Loyer needs to find a way to keep up the intensity, and the fact that he’s mentioned effort a ton in his week on the job is good. If the Pistons can find a little consistency, they can make a move starting with five winnable games — the Cavaliers, twice against the Bobcats and one against Atlanta — in the next two weeks.

Tim Thielke: As I’ve been carping on all year, emphasizing each player’s strengths, not weaknesses. There is a lot of talent on the roster, but as we all know, it doesn’t fit together in a traditional manner. To make this set of guys work, Loyer will have to get each of them to do what he is good at instead of what his position typically demands.

3-on-3: No Cheeks, No Problems?

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1.  Maurice Cheeks has been fired, and it only took 50 games for him to join Pistons’ lore as one of the many Joe Dumars‘ casualties. Did Cheeks get a fair shake?

Dan Feldman: Yes, but only because he had eight seasons prior to this one. Cheeks had an established record as an NBA head coach, and it wasn’t pretty. I understand hoping he’d used his years since the 76ers fired him to improve significantly, but 50 games were enough to show he hadn’t. The Pistons were wrong to hire Cheeks in the first place, so he got more than a fair shake (and a few million dollars, too).

Brady Fredericksen: Probably not. This team is flawed, but Cheeks seemed to start figuring them out. The struggles with ill-fitting personnel weren’t his fault, and he’s had the Pistons playing at a .500-level over their last 14 games. That’s not bad, considering the rest of the season’s up-and-down nature. The firing is a low-risk decision, though. Say John Loyer is a dandy coach? Good for the Pistons, they’ve finally found a good coach and will have likely earned a playoff berth. Say Loyer is a terrible coach? Darn, the Pistons went into a tailspin and fell completely apart, keeping their draft pick. I think it’s a win-win (or is it lose-lose? I dunno?) situation.

Tim Thielke: Yes, for most coaches, 50 games would not qualify as a fair shake. Nor would it for Cheeks if he had underachieved with mediocrity. But he did a horrendous job. There is a lot of talent on this roster and he managed to consistently minimize it. Worst of all, he started with mediocrity before falling off. So it’s not like he was just taking some time to figure out how to use this eclectic bunch.

2. What does the timing of Cheeks’ firing tell you about the Pistons?

Dan Feldman: Tom Gores is only so vested in the franchise’s success. However much sense it made to fire Cheeks on Sunday, it made even more sense two days prior, before the Pistons went on a two-game win streak. There’s clearly a lag in the Pistons receiving and implementing Gores’ directions. But I get that. The Pistons are one of his many business interests and not the most substantial investment in the portfolio. He’s not required to monitor this team as rigidly as its hardcore fans.

Brady Fredericksen: Dumars isn’t the guy calling the shots. This has impatient-owner-trying-to-be-proactive written all over it. I’ve said it before, but I have no idea if Goes knows anything about basketball. He’s been more in to being an NBA owner than I expected, and he seems like he wants this team to work. That’s nice, but the fact that Loyer is apparently getting a tryout the rest of the season tells me that Gores doesn’t want Dumars hiring another coach. Does that mean Dumars’ goose is cooked? No, but it sure does feel like that.

Tim Thielke: That I don’t understand the decision making processes going on there. Firing Cheeks would have made just as much sense a dozen games ago. Why did they wait until now and not until after the season? I I had to guess a narrative for it, they finally concluded within the past month that Cheeks was an awful head coach but that they were too far in the hole to make anything but tanking a good strategy. A couple recent wins made them think this season could be turned around after all, so they got rid of him.

3. We’ve yet to see what John Loyer has to offer, but does getting rid of Cheeks in the middle of the season improve the Pistons’ playoff chances?

Dan Feldman: Yes. Firing a coach midseason usually leads to improvement. Obviously, there’s something going wrong when a coach is fired, and there’s a chance any change in those situations could be productive. Plus, a coaching change under these circumstances is likely to energize everyone – especially the players, who must have known they were consistently getting sent into each game without a coach capable of adequately preparing them. There’s a chance Loyer is even less cut out for the job than Cheeks, but even if they’re exactly equally capable, that likely means the Pistons will fare better under Loyer.

Brady Fredericksen: Sure? Loyer might be a really great find, and having a new voice may be what the Pistons need. He is apparently well-liked by the players, and while it sounds minor, that’s actually a huge deal. The Pistons players haven’t liked a coach since, what, Larry Brown?

Tim Thielke: I don’t know much about how good Loyer is or how the players felt about Cheeks. If they deemed him incompetent, I’d have to assume there’d be a a short term bump in their performance just from having a new guy call the shots. Coaching changes often have that effect. So I’ll guess yes although I’m not assuming Loyer is an upgrade until I see supporting evidence.