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.
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.
Other teams say Pistons indeed shopping Josh Smith, but demanding more than just dead expirings.
Bill Simmons of Grantland ranked the NBA’s worst contracts, and Josh Smith placed No. 9:
Lessons from Detroit’s Josh signing include: Don’t put Josh and Brandon Jennings on the same team unless you’re trying to win a sulking contest; don’t put Josh with a new coach on a two-year contract; don’t play Josh at the 3; don’t assume you’ll be good defensively if you play two big guys with Josh; don’t sign Josh to a contract that doesn’t include a mandatory $10,000 fine every time he takes a 3; and don’t overpay someone whose departure from his previous team inspired fans to react as if you shot $100 bills out of a T-shirt cannon at them.
And after saying all of that … you know what? I spent 30 minutes on YouTube recently watching old Oak Hill highlights with Josh and best buddy Rajon Rondo while wondering if the Celtics should deal Jeff Green and Keith Bogans’s expiring deal for him. You know what frightens me? I think I’d be excited if this happened! My God, Josh Smith is my Atrocious GM Kryptonite!
Smith is 28, and while I don’t believe he’s over the hill, players age faster than most people realize. Smith is likely past his athletic peak, and even if he might remain athletic enough for several more years, that’s a scary thought for a player who’s so reliant on his physical skills.
What are the odds Smith makes this worst contract list again next season? He could rebound, but if forced to choose, I’d bet on him taking a spot again.
As poignant as his Smith analysis was, Simmons really nailed this:
Of the 10 teams that kept their amnesties, reasons range from “Billy King saved our ass from using it” (Atlanta) to “we never needed the help” (Boston, San Antonio, Chicago) to “we wish some of our current guys were eligible” (Sacramento, New Orleans, Memphis) to “we’re generally confused and probably misunderstood how it worked” (Detroit) to “we’re too freaking cheap” (Utah, Oklahoma City).
OK, it’s probably “we’re too freaking cheap,” but even that explanation can’t totally be separated from the Pistons seeming confused.
The Cavaliers have had conversations with several teams, including Dallas, Detroit and Indiana about Deng, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Nevertheless, there’s no traction on a deal and no team seems inclined to give up valuable assets for a player who could walk away in free agency.
Could the Pistons use a small forward who plays strong defense and shoots adequately from outside? Absolutely.
Get those Josh Smith-for Deng trades out of your mind, too. No way Cleveland does that.
At best, this is the Pistons doing their due diligence. At worst, it’s a leaked report to create the illusion there’s a chance Joe Dumars even has the power to make a trade of that magnitude.
Neither scenario points to Deng becoming a Piston.
hearing Greg Monroe won’t move
That jives with everything we’ve heard lately, and I’m glad about the development.
Regardless of whether the Pistons value Greg Monroe enough to give him a max contract (a necessity if they’re keeping him past today) or whether they’re just stagnant due to Tom Gores stripping power from Joe Dumars, Monroe should remain a key building block.
It’s unlikely the Pistons get fair return on Monroe now, when other teams see the Pistons desperation and also know they can make a run at him in free agency.
Monroe has major deficiencies, most of them on the defensive end. But he’s very talented offensively and still young. There’s no guarantee he’ll become a major success, but he’s worth taking a chance on – especially considering the Pistons’ limited resources to add another potential star through other means.
If the Pistons keep Monroe today, I’d appreciate that. But they better follow that with a strong plan for him this summer, when he’s a restricted free agent. Otherwise, it’d all be naught.
|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.|
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.
Sources: Billups to undergo knee surgery on right meniscus. Not career or season ending, though.
- Teams: Detroit Pistons (22-31) at Charlotte Bobcats (24-30)
- Date: February 19, 2014
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Detroit Pistons simply have no answer for Al Jefferson. Indeed, Jefferson has tortured them this season to the tune of 28 points, 13 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game so far this season.
The big man has essentially carried the Charlotte Bobcats to a pair of double-digit victories at the expense of the Pistons, and it’s difficult to envision Detroit bouncing back tonight.
Still, that’s exactly what they must do as a unit given that Charlotte has a firm hold on the final playoff in the Eastern Conference standings. As outlined yesterday, the Bobcats’ schedule is slightly more favorable than Detroit the rest of the way, which means the Pistons need a win in the worst way tonight.
Read about the Bobcats
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | -10
Monroe used both his strength and craftiness to score inside, but he was at his best when relying more on the former. Josh McRoberts (3-for-5 on all 3-point attempts) was a tough cover for Monroe. Monroe also spent time on Al Jefferson (32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists), but Jefferson is just too good for any Piston.
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 5-17 FG | 2-6 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -15
Smith shot 0-for-6 outside the paint, sabotaging what would have been merely a solid game otherwise. I believe Tom Gores erred by demanding the Pistons make the playoffs this season, but once tasked with completing that objective and given the money to do so, Joe Dumars really blew it. Jefferson would not have been a great fit in Detroit, but he shows there were better splurging options available.
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 40 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -6
Singler made his share of very helpful plays, and his off-ball movement is welcome in Detroit’s stagnant offense.
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 34 MIN | 8-15 FG | 0-2 FT | 22 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -10
It’s a shame the Pistons are wasting Drummond’s present. His offense needs more polish, and Jefferson exposed his defensive weaknesses. But Drummond is so strong on the glass, that alone makes him extremely effective on both ends. Tonight’s loss puts the Pistons 1.5 games behind Charlotte for eighth place – the same distance Detroit is ahead of the Cavaliers, who’ve won five straight. The Knicks are just a half game behind Cleveland. The race for the No. 8 seed is getting more crowded, and the Pistons are poorly positioned to emerge on top. In a grander sense, the Pistons are right on track to lose their draft pick to the Bobcats and squander Drummond’s future, too. A win at Charlotte tomorrow won’t be easy, but it’s pivotal in avoiding The Disaster Zone.
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 39 MIN | 7-18 FG | 8-9 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | -15
Jennings carried a larger offensive load than should be placed on him, but he handled it well. It also helped his offensive cause that he let up defensively.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1
Jerebko didn’t play in the second half if that tells you something about his hold on a rotation spot.
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +2
Bynum pushed the pace in the fourth quarter and helped the Pistons cut Charlotte’s lead. Increasing variance is what Bynum does best. His own offense was so-so, and his defense was poor. But his impact on the game spread beyond his obvious individual contributions.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 10 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2
Caldwell-Pope was solid defensively and invisible offensively.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 17 MIN | 1-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -3
Stuckey made his first shot and then missed his next 10. Bleh.
Loyer gets creativity points for installing a 3-2 zone, but the Pistons played far too flat in such a pivotal game. Getting the emotional best from this team is a deep challenge for an interim coach, but that’s the request the Pistons doomed themselves to when hiring Maurice Cheeks. Keeping a theme, even if Gores wouldn’t pay enough to hire someone like Lionel Hollins or George Karl, there were far better less-heralded options available. One of them was sitting on the visiting team’s bench tonight. Steve Clifford has the Bobcats prepared and syncing at a level the Pistons haven’t approached in years.
- Teams: Charlotte Bobcats (23-30) at Detroit Pistons (22-30)
- Date: February 18, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Detroit Pistons will host the Charlotte Bobcats tonight in a matchup of playoff hopefuls. The Bobcats are clinging to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Pistons are right on their heels.
Both units play tonight and tomorrow in a home-and-home set that will either make the playoff race more compelling or pretty much boring. In the event Charlotte wins both contests, it will create some separation between the teams that might hold up for the remainder of the season.
Sounds preposterous right?
And yet, it’s fairly accurate. Charlotte and Detroit have played two of the easiest schedules in the league (based on opponent winning percentage) through the first half of 2013-14, but the rest of the campaign is slightly tougher.
Both teams will face stiffer competition, and the Bobcats hold the edge in remaining home games. 15 of Charlotte’s final 29 games will be played in the state of North Carolina, whereas Detroit will play 13 of their final 30 contests at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
It gets a bit worse.
The Pistons have a four-game western road trip with stops at the houses of the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. On the flip side, The Bobcats’ biggest road trip the rest of the way has them playing at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics.
Oh and by the way, Charlotte currently holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Detroit by virtue of a December 20 victory at the Palace. After trailing through much of that contest, the Bobs turned to Al Jefferson in the fourth quarter, and he morphed into Hakeem Olajuwon.
Jefferson went to the low block and terrorized Detroit’s interior defenders. He dropped 15 fourth-quarter points on 7-of-11 shooting. It’s a little weird to call a set of February games important, but make no mistake, that’s exactly the case.
In the event Detroit can sweep this home-and-home set, the Pistons obtain the tiebreaker at the expense of the Bobcats and place themselves in a relatively decent position to make the playoffs.