Category → Notes
In an interview with SI.com this week, ESPN Films vice president and executive producer Connor Schell said a documentary on Detroit’s championship years titled "Bad Boys" will air on April 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. More than 40 people were interviewed for the film, including 10 members of the championship Pistons teams as well as opposing players such as Jordan. Following the film, ESPN will immediately air a one-hour discussion on the Bad Boys era that will be hosted by Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose. ESPN NBA analyst Doug Collins will also appear along with several Pistons players from that era.
Something NBA fans will be excited about, according to Cocoros, is Thomas talking about Bird’s famous steal in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals in 1987. That story has been documented often from the Celtics side but rarely have viewers heard from Thomas and other Detroit players about it. "Isiah lives and breaths this stuff," said Cocoros. "His memory and recollection on how things went down and what he knows about this team is amazing."
Cocoros said he discovered never-before-seen footage of the team inside the locker room before and after games, as well as compelling footage of Daly’s huddles. Daly passed away in 2009, but Cocoros said viewers will feel his presence throughout the film. "You will hear how the players talk about Chuck and what a father figure he was for these guys and the way he handled himself," said Cocoros. "He’s not around to talk about the team but you don’t miss him at all in the film. He comes across as truly the guy who tied it all together."
I planned to watch this regardless. Nearly ever 30-for-30 I’ve seen has been excellent, and one on the Pistons certainly piques my interest.
But documentaries like these sometimes bore diehard fans of the subject, which would probably describe a large number of this site’s readers. We’re already so familiar with the topic, and the show is packaged for a wider audience, that no new information is revealed.
But that doesn’t seem like it will be the case here at all.
I’ve gone from intrigued to on the edge of my seat waiting for this to air. It’s great that Pistons will have something to look forward to after the regular season ends April 16.
The Pistons use Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond more than 18 minutes per game, a solid chunk of playing time for arguably the team’s top three players.
“We want to get our best players on the floor together, and that’s just the way we do it,” Loyer said.
Except Detroit has been terrible in the 1,140 minutes the trio has shared the court.
With those three, Detroit’s net rating is -7.5. Of the 43 threesomes to play together so much this season, only one has been worse and just two others are even in the range.
Teams typically don’t stick with something that isn’t working this long – at least when they’re trying to win.
Do the Detroit Pistons hold each other accountable?
“No,” Brandon Jennings said directly.
As with any Q and A Zach Lowe does, you should go read his entire chat with Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley on Grantland. But if you’re looking for a cool Pistons-related piece, Lowe was talking with Conley about big men who are great at defending pick and rolls, and Andre Drummond’s name came up:
Flip it the other way. When you’re running a pick-and-roll on offense, which defender concerns you more: the point guard covering you, or the big man covering the screener and helping on you?
The bigger concern is the big guy, and then the help-side defense. That’s what I’m reading most of the time. I trust my big guy to get me open with the pick, so I’m more worried about their man and the guys coming to the weak side — so that I know who I might be able to hit with a pass, or if I might have the opportunity to score myself.
Which big man has given you the most trouble in your career?
I always thought Kevin Garnett was the best. He probably still is. Andre Drummond is pretty good at it.
That’s a surprising name to hear.
Oh, he’s long, and he’s so quick with his hands. He’s really agile.
He does get a lot of steals.
Yep. You have to watch for that every time you come off of pick-and-rolls.
sources do not expect Dumars to stay in the position much longer—either he’ll step down or owner Tom Gores will go in a new direction. Dumars, one source said, is weary of the criticism he has received in trying to rebuild the Pistons after constructing a franchise that went to the Eastern Conference Finals six years in a row (2003-2008). The criticism, the source said, fails to account for a dismal Detroit economy and restraints placed on Dumars while the franchise was up for sale and ultimately changed ownership hands.
Phil Jackson, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of USA Today:
Q: With that in mind, the natural question is what does that mean going forward? That was a unique situation, but do you see opportunity elsewhere that you like?
A: There are a few (opportunities), but I shouldn’t name them. It wouldn’t be right to talk about it, name anything. But yeah, there are some. There are winners and losers in the NBA, and a lot of people are trying to reclaim their position or change their culture or whatever. So yeah, there is. I’ve had conversations. Some of them are feelers. "Are you interested?" type of thing. I did go out to Detroit last year and sit with (Pistons President) Joe (Dumars). I guess we weren’t successful, but I really encouraged (Pistons owner) Tom Gores that the general manager has to be able to pick his coach so they can win it together. And Joe wanted Maurice, so it didn’t work out, unfortunately for Maurice. I developed a relationship with the owner, who lives in LA. We have conversations.
Q: So is that still an ongoing relationship?
A: I’m just like an adviser, an unpaid adviser. So far, my advice hasn’t been too great (laughs).
Q: Well at least they’re not wasting their money on you…
A: Tom is a generous guy, but I really don’t want to make him feel like it’s more than it is. It’s a professional kind of opinion that I have. But I like their chances as they go forward. They had some curious free agent (selections) but I like their young guys. (Andre) Drummond is good.
Phil Jackson, advising in the Pistons’ last coaching search, didn’t get his apparent choice of Brian Shaw. But it’s interesting Jackson, if you take him at his word, told Tom Gores it was important Joe Dumars get to pick his own coach.
Obviously, that coach, Maurice Cheeks, failed in Detroit – and if Jackson’s re-telling of events is accurate, Dumars deserves blame for hiring Cheeks. Jackson also deserves credit for understanding how a functional franchise runs best, even if his own place at the table undermined the Pistons’ cohesiveness.
It sounds like Jackson is still filling his role as unpaid advisor. I wonder how Jackson will will fit in Gores’ plans this offseason.
Jackson is unproven as a general manager, though I’d strongly consider taking a chance on him in that role. But first I’d push for him to also coach for a couple years, groom his replacement and then slide into a solely front-office position.
“It all kind of depends how this feels and how things are with the knee,” he said. “If the knee is fine, then sure, absolutely, I would like to come back. If it’s not, I don’t want to come back and do this. It’s tough to do this, especially on a team when we’re not a winning team at this stage.”
Billups said he hopes to return but he has to “just kind of see.”
“I’m not gonna rush back. I do just want to get it better. But I hope so,” he said, when asked if the objective is to return this year.
A spokesman for Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores called a report that the team is wooing Isiah Thomas as its next general manager "absolutely false."
"He is not a candidate for any job with the Pistons," Barnhill wrote about Thomas.
Mark Barnhill, a partner in Gores’ Platinum Equity, wrote in an email to MLive that he and Gores had dinner with Thomas a couple weeks ago in Los Angeles but the upcoming Bad Boys reunion "was the sole topic. Period."
“Gores is definitely looking at Isiah to replace Joe,” one league source said.
What [Gores] knows about pro basketball you can probably fit in a thimble, and he loves his stars. That goes for current ones (Josh Smith, who is said to have a direct pipeline to Gores) and former ones (there’s none bigger in the Motor City than Thomas, who led the Pistons to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990).
Lawrence has reported a surprising amount of Pistons news, so maybe he knows something here.
If Josh Smith has a “direct pipeline” to Gores, that’s certainly interesting. Gores seems close with Andre Drummond, but you can see why the owner would also want the input of the company’s highest-paid employee. Based on Smith’s poor on-court decision-making, that seems dangerous – especially if Gores’ basketball knowledge is as meager as Lawrence implies. But Gores isn’t necessarily relying on Smith. Open communication is a good thing.
As far as the big news of this report, you can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.
For the Charlie Villanueva to be eligible for another team’s playoff roster – the whole point of these buyouts – the Pistons must waive him by the end of the day Saturday.
Villanueva, for his part, said he’s interested in a buyout. Via David Mayo of MLive:
“I want to play. If it’s not here, then I’m still young, I’ve still got a lot of years of playing left. I just want to play,” he said.
“It’s hard because I love this game, I’m very passionate about this game, so it’s hard not to let my frustration out,” he said. “But you’ve just got to come to grips with it. They made their decision. It is what it is. So there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing I can do about it. It doesn’t matter what I do in practice. It doesn’t matter what kind of work I put in. It doesn’t matter.”
At this point, I don’t care whether or not the Pistons buy out Villanueva. He’s remained generally patient through these five years, the prime of his career washed away as now four coaches have marginalized him. If he wants to try to land a playing job with a different team, the Pistons should have the decency to consider letting him.
Of course, Villanueva is culpable in his own demise. He’s a score-only player who sometimes seems more concerned with whether he looks fluid rather than whether he’s productive. Each offseason, he hypes his renewed dedication. Each season, the results underwhelm.
There’s no guarantee Villanueva would get picked up, but that risk should be his to take — if he and the Pistons reach a suitable settlement. Villanueva will surely have to return some money in exchange for his freedom, and the Pistons should assess the market to avoid Villanueva going to a team competing with Detroit for a playoff berth (no matter how slim the Pistons’ chances are).*
*Unless the Pistons are tanking. Then maybe they should want Villanueva to join an Eastern Conference playoff contender. Then again, maybe Villanueva would sabotage that team. In that case, they should buy him out if they think he’ll sign with a competing team.
This is just getting too complicated. Buy him out if the money is right. Don’t worry about where he goes.
Finally, not to dig up the past — aw, heck, I’m totally going to dig up the past. The Pistons should have amnestied this guy when they had the chance. Really, they should have amnestied Ben Gordon, but they were too cheap or foolish or some combination of the two to do that. But amnestying Villanueva would have been better than amnestying neither.
Getting ridding of him now won’t undo that mistake. The Pistons can no longer trade him. There’s no indication they’ll play him. They almost certainly won’t re-sign him.
Like I said, I don’t care whether or not they buy him out. The Pistons’ and Villanueva’s long overdo separation will happen soon enough, either way.