Category → Notes
No interim coach has been appointed with Detroit, but assistant John Loyer is expected to be frontrunner
John Loyer was originally hired as an assistant under Lawrence Frank. Then, Loyer, who previously worked for Maurice Cheeks in Portland and Philadelphia, was retained.
Perhaps, Loyer is a really good coach, but he doesn’t have the resume of a strong head-coaching hire. If Loyer weren’t already on staff when the Pistons hired Cheeks, would they have hired him? If Loyer weren’t already on staff now, would they consider making him head coach?
There’s something to be said for continuity within successful organizations, but the Pistons – especially on the coaching level – are not that. If Loyer has shown quality work behind the scenes, name him the interim coach. I’d definitely get behind that. But if they’re choosing him merely because the transition would be smoothest, the Pistons are erring in not bringing in an outside hire.
There are big names available – Lionel Hollins and George Karl – but they’ll likely be costly. I can understand waiting until the offseason and allowing a new general manager, if Joe Dumars is replaced, a strong voice in making the hire rather than locking up an established coach now.
Teams often get a bump under interim coaches, no matter whom, because everyone is energized by a change. Loyer very well could push the Pistons, who are just half a game out of the eighth seed, into the playoffs.
But if Tom Gores really wants to make a playoff push now – and it sure seems he does – he’ll pay for someone like Hollins. He could always eat the contract later if a new general manager wants to change course.
But money is always an object, and if Loyer meets the good-enough threshold, the Pistons can try to limp into the playoffs well below .500. It’s just another way the 2013-14 Eastern Conference can make the Pistons look competent.
The Detroit Pistons have fired coach Maurice Cheeks
In a season that has fallen short of playoff expectations, Detroit owner Tom Gores has been pushing for changes, league sources said.
Eight different coaches have been replaced under Dumars’ run as GM, but league sources told Yahoo Sports he had been an advocate of giving Cheeks more time as coach – especially in light of back-to-back victories over the weekend.
Maurice Cheeks getting fired as the Pistons’ head coach was predictable. The timing was not.
The Pistons have won two straight, certainly not enough to instill confidence in a turnaround, but enough to make this timing a little strange. Then again, if this move came directly from Tom Gores, the delay is at least understandable. Overseeing the team from California likely causes at least some delay in him making and implementing his decisions.
This put Dumars, who has hired yet another failed coaching, even more firmly on the hot seat. Even if the Pistons make the playoffs, that might no longer be enough to save Dumars’ job.
Gores is clearly unhappy, and he’s taking action. Quite likely, Cheeks’ firing was only the first domino.
We’ll have much more on the firing later today.
"It was in the heat of the moment," said Bynum, who was the last player off the practice floor. "I care. It’s hard for me to sit back and act like I don’t care because I do. All I’m really concerned with is winning. If I see something that’s not right, sometimes in the heat of the moment you kind of say something.
"I don’t regret it. I regret the fact that maybe I was a bit too passionate about it. But other than that, no."
Will Bynum approach Cheeks?
Does he think they’ll speak?
Never change, Will. Never change.
“It’s been around for a long time. Starters get a little more leeway than guys coming off the bench,” Cheeks said. “I’m harder on point guards than normal because I think they have a huge impact on the game. Their value is pretty special.”
“(Shooting) is one aspect of the game,” Cheeks said. “You can still be out there trying on the floor, like I thought Brandon was — trying — despite shooting 5 for 23.”
On some level, I agree with this. Jennings is a better player than Bynum, which is why Jennings starts over Bynum. No matter how well either plays in the small sample of a partial game, Jennings is still better than Bynum. So, Jennings should get a longer leash.
However, it seems Cheeks is relying a lot on effort. Is he really implying Will Bynum wasn’t playing hard enough? MFWB? Really?
Kyle Singler to start at shooting guard for #Pistons tonight. Cheeks says he’ll decide that spot on game-by-game basis. KCP to bench.
At ProBasketballTalk, you can read why I find this move questionable, to say the least.
Also, just a hunch, but I think Kyle Singler will remain the start ahead of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope indefinitely. Even though Maurice Cheeks might consider switching each game, I suspect he’ll leave the lineup as is. That’s just usually how these things go, especially if/when Singler likely performs well tonight against a subpar Magic team.
I don’t think the Pistons are tanking. They’ve been talking playoffs for too long and have backed it up with their offseason moves. But since the season has really gotten going, they’ve frequently looked like a tanking team:
- Blown fourth-quarter leads
- A stubborn insistence on starting Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond together
- Not calling a timeout to advance the ball at the end of the Pelicans game
- Cheeks benching his best player for a seemingly minor mistake
- Giving the biggest offensive roles to the inefficient Smith and Brandon Jennings
- Losing to the Bucks
Add this to the list.
If the 76ers made some of these decisions, critics would complain they’re tanking too blatantly.
I participated in a 5-on-5 on ESPN about whether teams should trade their stars or near-stars, and we were asked about Greg Monroe:
5. Fact or Fiction: The Pistons should move Monroe before the deadline.
Adande: Fact. If Greg Monroe had followed a natural progression, he should have been battling for an All-Star spot this season. Instead, his numbers are down all over. The Josh Smith signing gives the Pistons a frontcourt-heavy team at a time when the rest of the league is going to the perimeter. The Pistons are 26th in the league in 3-pointers made. They should trade Monroe, a player without a 3-point attempt this season, for an outside threat.
Elhassan: Faction. I mean, Fict. I mean, it’s complicated. Detroit should try to move Smith, who was an awful signing from a fit perspective, but with almost the entirety of his $54 million still on the books, it’ll struggle to find takers. Unfortunately, the current combination can’t flourish moving forward without the addition of talent (shooting!), and Monroe’s youth, production and right-of-first-refusal status make him the easier trade piece.
Feldman: Fiction. Monroe is one of the NBA’s premier young offensive big men. He doesn’t fit well with the Pistons’ current roster, but they shouldn’t be too concerned with short-term fit. Monroe could fit well with Andre Drummond in three years, and that matters more than the couple of extra wins a lower-upside wing would bring this season.
Strauss: Fact. Perhaps I’m wrong on this, but I believe that offense-first big men are generally overvalued. The exceptions to this philosophy are guys like Dirk Nowitzki who can stretch opposing defenders to the 3-point arc. Monroe can’t stretch the opposing defense, and he doesn’t play good defense. Teams that trade that type of player tend to end up better off.
Sunnergren: Fact. In a perfect world, the Pistons would trade Smith, work out an extension with Monroe and go to bed each night secure in the knowledge that, with him and Drummond, they had one of the top frontcourts in the sport. Alas, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in one where Detroit’s roster is an unworkable disaster and Smoove’s $54 million deal is unmovable. Time to make a deal.
If you want to know whether we’d trade Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony and Kyle Lowry, click through to ESPN.
Asked specifically if he was panicked over the job performances of president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, who is in the final year of his contract, and/or first-year head coach Maurice Cheeks, Gores replied, "Right now I’m patient, but I want to make sure we make adjustments if we have to make adjustments."
"We’ve been focused really on the individual players," he said. "The fact is, we’re better than our record and I think we just have to make our players the best they can be. We have to focus on them. So we’re not focused on deadline or anything like that. We’re just focused on getting the guys better and preparing them."
"I’m not satisfied … our job is to make sure that the players are working at their maximum," he said. "So I’m not satisfied with the job I’m doing, I’m not satisfied with the job anybody’s doing right now, including myself.
"We have to get better and these young men work really, really hard. I feel like our job is to make sure that they are at their maximum and I don’t think they’re at their maximum."
"We’re not that far out," Gores said. "I think it’s frustrating because we’re better than our record. At the same time, there’s a lot of hope right now. I see a lot of possibilities. We have to come together. We have to jell.
"I don’t think you could say our team and our players don’t work hard. I think they work hard. So we just have to figure out how to work together."
"I actually don’t think we have done our best job to make sure they’re working at 100 percent," he said. "We have great young players. These are guys that need a lot of preparation. These are young men."
Approximately 90 percent of all NBA teams and 100 percent of losing NBA teams believe they’re better than their record. That type optimism gets few of them anywhere.
We’re 46 games through the season with just 36 games remaining. How much more is there to learn about this current group of players? As I’ve said all along, I expect the Pistons to make more internal in-season improvements than the average team – and I believe that will be true for the rest of the season, too. They have a lot of talent that hasn’t fit well immediately and could fit together a little better with more time.
But how much better?
The Pistons’ problems, both predicted and not, are very real. They’re 19-27 and even if their pieces mesh better the rest of the year, it’s difficult to see it getting better to the point the Pistons even near preseason predictions.
Gores should be frustrated, and he should be considering franchise-altering moves before the deadline. It’s not feasible to fire Joe Dumars now, and firing Maurice Cheeks is also probably a non-starter. But trades should be explored that put the team on a different course.
I don’t know what deals are available, so I wouldn’t say for certain the Pistons should make a trade. They definitely shouldn’t make a trade just for the sake of doing so. But it seems Gores is much more convinced than I am that this might be the roster to proceed with.
If nothing helpful emerges before the trade deadline, I can accept that. But if I were in Gores’ shoes, I’d be doing as much as possible to take advantage of these two-and-a-half weeks before Feb. 20. There’s a small window to improve via trade. Don’t squander it. After it closes, internal improvements can become the focus once again.
These Pistons – general manager, coach and players – aren’t working. I think they need more than just time for that to change significantly.
|Greg Monroe, PF 29 MIN | 8-10 FG | 5-9 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 21 PTS | +26
Monroe was the offensive hub tonight he could be many nights. The ball went through him, and he either got a good shot or found a teammate for one. Why don’t the Pistons put Monroe in this role more often? Perhaps fueled by his expand offensive responsibility, he had a little extra pep in his step defensively. The results on that end weren’t perfect, but when Monroe is using his quick hands to get steals, his fundamental defensive issues matter a heck of a lot less.
|Josh Smith, SF 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-5 FT | 9 REB | 7 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 9 PTS | +25
Late in the second half, Smith got a steal and then tried to bring the ball upcourt himself. Against only mild defensive pressure, he lost control of his dribble out of bounds. This is a player who does not know his limits. But his talents are so diverse, he can still positively impact the game.
|Andre Drummond, C 23 MIN | 10-11 FG | 2-5 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 5 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +15
Offensively and defensively, Drummond was a beast – and he makes it look so easy. It’s not reasonable to expect him ever to produce like this every night, but watching him actually do it, somehow it seems possible.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 37 MIN | 6-17 FG | 6-7 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +27
Jennings – as he does from time to time – found trouble. (Or, if you prefer, trouble found him.) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fouled Evan Turner on a drive late in the first half. As Turner continued past the baseline under the basket, he blindly threw the ball back toward the court. At best, he was trying to keep the ball in bounds in case the foul wasn’t called. At worst, he was carelessly tossing the ball into a crowd. Either way, the ball hit Caldwell-Pope in the face. Jennings ran to scoop up the ball and chucked it at Turner’s legs. Jennings got a technical foul, but he was lucky not to be ejected. Expect the NBA office to look at that one again. I like that Jennings stuck up for his teammate, but he could have done that verbally rather than physically. As for Jennings’ play, he got as easy of a 20 points as someone shooting 35 percent can get. Thanks to the effectiveness and increased role for Detroit’s frontline, Jennings could just hang back, attempt way more shots than anyone else on the team and pad his scoring numbers.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 21 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +14
Caldwell-Pope was aggressive early, probably even a little too shot-happy. But he got going midway through the third quarter, scoring and defending at an elite level for a short stretch.
|Josh Harrellson, PF 13 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1
Harrellson was much more ineffective than helpful, even if he had a couple OK moments.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -11
Any interest in using your limited minutes to make a rotation case? No? OK, whatever.
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 6 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10
What about you? No? Alright. No skin off my back.
|Luigi Datome, SF 7 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -11
I understand that it’s not easy to come in cold as a shooter, but Datome played seven minutes – his most action in more than a month – and he still couldn’t get warm enough to make a single shot? Maybe Datome would perform better in regular role, but there’s just no way to give him one.
|Kyle Singler, SF 35 MIN | 6-12 FG | 5-6 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +5
Singler gave the Pistons three players with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a game for the first time since 1997, when Grant Hill, Bison Dele and Lindsey Hunter (!) did it in a win over the Suns. Obviously, Monroe and Drummond were too impactful inside for the 76ers. But I really think the Pistons could have started Singler as a stretch center in place of either of those two and still won. Philadelphia is awful inside, and the absence of Michael Carter-Williams removed some of their best counters for offsetting that.
|Will Bynum, PG 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -3
Bynum was moderately helpful off the bench, focusing on passing until garbage time. Then, he looked for his own shot a bit more.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 9 MIN | 0-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | +7
Stuckey left the game during the second quarter with dizziness and didn’t return. He had a scary incident a few years ago due to something similar, but he turned out fine. Hopefully, that’s the case again. Encouragingly, the concern level tonight never even approach the previous case. Before leaving the game, Stuckey was off.
Sometimes, less is more. The Pistons didn’t do anything fancy. They just gave the biggest responsibilities to their best players against a bad team, and it worked beautifully.
Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com this week that the Pistons have been telling teams with Monroe interest that the restricted free agent-to-be — no matter what you’ve heard — is not available.
The Josh Smith experiment in Detroit is not going well, and there’s strong opinion around the league that the Pistons would trade him if they could — and "could” is the key word. Since Smith is in the first year of a four-year, $56 million deal, he is one of the most untradable players in the league.
Tentative hooray? Tentative hooray.
A lot can change before the trade deadline – and this could just be posturing, anyway – but I really want the Pistons to build around Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. I believe those two can be key pieces on a very successful team.
It’s just difficult to envision that very successful team also including Josh Smith.
For one, Smith is five years older than Monroe and eight years older than Drummond. In the time it will take Drummond and Monroe to hit their primes, Smith , 28, will be heading over the hill.
Secondly, Smith has been a disastrous fit with Monroe and Drummond so far. I haven’t totally given up on the lineup’s potential – the talent is there – but the odds of those three ever consistently playing well together are already low and only falling. As Smith ages and his athleticism wanes, he’ll become an even poorer fit at small forward.
I’m not against trading Monroe. He’s certainly not as important to the Pistons’ future as Drummond. I just believe it will be difficult to get fair value for Monroe, and I’m definitely against trading him just to make the current roster fit a little better. I’d rather show patience and give the Pistons a chance to reconstruct the roster around those two – something they probably should have been more focused on doing sooner.
As for a Smith trade, you can read read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.
Andre Drummond, as expected, did not make the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
I would have taken Drummond over Paul Millsap, DeMar DeRozan and Joe Johnson, so that makes Drummond a snub to me.
But since Drummond’s stock was highest, a few other East frontcourt players came on strong and Drummond drifted a bit. Simply, he didn’t do enough to make himself an obvious choice, and the Pistons’ 18-27 record didn’t get him any second looks.
That’s not fair to Drummond, who shouldn’t be held solely responsible for Detroit’s struggles when it comes to an individual honor. Yet, that’s the reality of the system.
In the long run, tonight won’t make a blip on Drummond’s resume. Bigger things are in his future, and snubs in his early years will fade into nothingness.
Drummond is just 20 years old. He’ll become an All-Star soon enough.
Here are all the players with at least 5.2 win shares – the total Drummond already has this year – in a season when they were 20 or younger:
- LeBron James
- Magic Johnson
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Chris Paul
- Adrian Dantley
- Dwight Howard
- Kevin Durant
- Chris Webber
- Tony Parker
- Elton Brand
- Kevin Garnett
- Andrei Kirilenko
- John Drew
- Chris Bosh
- Joe Smith
- Andris Biedrins
- Tracy McGrady
- Greg Monroe
- Luol Deng
- Kobe Bryant
- Carl Braun
- Amar’e Stoudemire
- Carmelo Anthony
- Anthony Davis
- Brook Lopez
- Jrue Holiday
- Kawhi Leonard
- Thaddeus Young
- Tyreke Evans
- Kyrie Irving
- Kevin Love
- Stephon Marbury
- Mike Miller
Of those 33 players, 25 became All-Stars.
Drummond, not even at the All-Star break, has already put himself in special company. As this season continues, he’ll separate himself even further from that group and show just how special he is.
He doesn’t need an All-Star berth to do that.
The postponed Pistons-Hawks game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Atlanta.
That adds another tough game to what’s already a difficult April slate for the Pistons:
- at Pacers
- at Nets
- vs. Celtics
- at Hawks
- at Cavaliers
- at Bulls
- vs. Raptors
- at Thunder
Unless the Pistons are tanking by then. Then, the April schedule looks pretty good. Just have to figure out how to lose to the Celtics and Cavaliers.