The Pistons will run their own D-League team in Grand Rapids next season, rather than continue sharing a squad with five other NBA teams. That will cost real money. The Pistons will have to hire a coach and a basketball-operations staff, and they’ll likely spend more on scouts to find players to fill the roster.
This season, 14 teams have their own D-League affiliate: three of the NBA’s strongest championship contenders (Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma Thunder), a few threats to advance in the playoffs (Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets), prominent franchises in the league’s power structure (Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks) a team with an extremely promising future (Philadelphia 76ers) and the Cavaliers and Kings.
With the exception of Cleveland and Sacramento, it’s absolutely a group you want to join.
But these teams aren’t well-positioned because they have their own D-League teams. Having their own D-League team is a signal that they’re doing whatever they can to gain an edge. A team that goes out of its way to negotiate a one-to-one affiliation usually is doing many other things right.
The Pistons put themselves one step closer toward including themselves in that reality. Though they will have to back it up with other savvy moves, Gores sincerely deserves credit for paying to alter the Pistons’ prognosis for the better.
Pistons blow 16-point fourth-quarter lead, nine-point lead in final three minutes – and it’s glorious!
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +21Monroe was solid, but he got buried on the bench down the stretch.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 44 MIN | 11-23 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +6Good and bad, Smith stuffed the stat sheet as we all know he can. He spent eight minutes tonight at center, to the Pistons’ detriment both offensively and defensively. But you won’t hear me complaining about Detroit experimenting with lineups or Smith airballing a free throw, which he did.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 7-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +2Singler was excellent as a spot-up shooter, making 4-of-6 3-pointers. His defensive effort was strong, though his defensive execution fell just a tad behind that standard.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 26 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -3The Cavaliers mostly kept Drummond off the offensive glass, limiting his ability to score. In time, Drummond will develop the offensive repertoire to exert his will. At least he hit the defensive glass hard.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 41 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +6The Pistons really moved the ball well, and that started with Jennings. He rarely attacked the rim, but when he’s making his jumpers – 5-of-9 on 3-pointers tonight – that works OK.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -13Nice rushed hook shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer. Otherwise, meh.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -7I always appreciate Bynum’s eagerness to feed Drummond, and he hit the big man with a lob on his first possession. But the Cavaliers overplayed Drummond on subsequent pick-and-rolls, and Bynum had no counter. The Pistons’ offensive rating with him on the court tonight: 47.0.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -8Caldwell-Pope came out gunning, scoring five quick points after entering the game in the first quarter. Then, he faded into the background.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 2-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -9Shot 0-for-6 outside the restricted area, had as many turnovers as assists, earned the right to play the entire fourth quarter.|
|The Palace heckler Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com:
This is how you tank – at least in hindsight. Boy, that big lead had me worried. The Pistons led by 16 points entering the fourth quarter. So far this season, teams with such large advantages entering the fourth quarter had gone 224-1. And the Pistons still led by nine points in the final three minutes. But they blew it. Oh boy, did they blow it. The Pistons surrendered a game-ending 10-0 run as the offense stagnated, possibly because Jennings – who played the entire fourth quarter and 41 minutes overall, his most playing time since Loyer became coach – became fatigued. The Pistons played hard all game, and maybe using Bynum even briefly in the second half would have won Detroit this game. But Loyer stuck with Jennings, a needless test of valor that produced the desired result.The Pistons now have the NBA’s eighth-worst record and a two-game cushion over the ninth-worst Cavaliers. Detroit is now closer to the sixth-worst Lakers than to Cleveland. My hopes are officially up for the Pistons keeping their first-round pick, which goes to the Bobcats unless it falls in the top eight of the draft.
But please stop guarding opponents spotting guarding opponents like this:
On Cleveland’s next possession, Loyer was headed over the sideline to trap until Cleveland moved the ball to the middle of the floor:
I’m definitely of the Zach Lowe school on this, though we don’t agree exactly. Although I don’t like it, I have no huge objection to coaches yelling at opposing shooters. But I hate when coaches crowd the sideline – especially when they, as Loyer is prone to doing, reach over it. Until more players follow Jason Kidd’s model, though, I don’t see a good way to stop it. I don’t want to tell coaches they can’t stand, but they ought to stop abusing the privilege.
- Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers (28-44) at Detroit Pistons (26-44)
- Date: March 26, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Cleveland Cavaliers are dysfunctional.
The Cavs made moves during the offseason with the hope of finally making it back to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James uttered the words “South Beach” on national television. That goal is still mathematically alive, but the odds aren’t in Cleveland’s favor.
The Cavaliers have to overtake the New York Knicks (ninth seed) and Atlanta Hawks (eighth seed) to make it into the postseason. Atlanta has six less losses, and it will be extremely difficult for Cleveland to catch them.
When we present these facts without context, it seems to line up with the direction the franchise has taken for the most part since the 2010 summer. However, the 2013-14 season has been particularly awful, even by Cleveland’s standards.
The Cavs started things out by selecting Anthony Bennett in the 2013 draft. Although it’s far too early to call him a bust, Bennett has struggled in his rookie season as evidenced by his averages of 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on 35.2 percent field-goal shooting.
What’s more, the pairing of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters has been a failure.
The tandem has exhibited little chemistry over the course of the season (they have instances where they keep the ball away from each other), and it all culminated into a players meeting that hurt more than it helped per ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard (Insider).
And yet, the front office surpassed itself by signing Andrew Bynum, thinking he would help them get to one of the last postseason spots. Instead, the move failed, and in effort to get rid of his non-guaranteed contract, Cleveland traded Bynum to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.
Deng left a franchise with a strong sense of direction and commitment to winning, for one that appeared to be clueless in every important facet that helps produce a successful ball club.
As a result, Deng was unhappy about being traded to Cleveland according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:
Deng has seen how a team mired in losing since LeBron James left town wrongly caters to its young star players, even as they continue to undermine head coach Mike Brown at almost every turn. In Chicago, where Deng broke in and played nine-plus seasons, there is a winning culture where players are expected to act like professionals and understand that they will suffer the consequences if they step out of line.
The addition of Deng did little for the Cavs, so they made a trade to acquire Spencer Hawes. Yet and still, the Cavs look nothing like a playoff team. Irving is currently sidelined because of a biceps injury, and the team has looked incredibly flawed in his absence (as opposed to “just flawed”).
Cleveland owns a bottom-third offense because the players do not believe in sharing. The Cavs have a tendency to shoot the ball after the first pass. When that fails, the one bringing up the ball simply fires up a field goal whenever he is good and ready.
In related news, the Cavs are 23rd in assists per game. Even Deng has been contaminated. He has embraced the idea of occasionally taking ill-advised shots after spending some time alongside Waiters.
There is no easy way to say this: The Cavs have selfish tendencies and are tough to watch at times. The right play is often replaced by an incomprehensible decision, and that’s been Cleveland’s season in a nutshell.
Way to sell tonight’s game versus the Detroit Pistons huh?
Read about the Cavs
I’m upset with the media, because somebody’s sitting in the basement making up stuff. And it’s embarrassing to me. It’s embarrassing to me for the Detroit Pistons. When it comes on a across a headline “Tom Izzo says he has no interest” or whatever, that wasn’t even the case. The problem is nobody’s even talked to me. I get all these things. “I know you’ve talked to this person.” “I know you’ve talked to that person.” Because that makes it look embarrassing, like the Pistons have called me, and said something, and I’ve said I had no interest. First of all, nobody has contacted me in any way, shape or form. I don’t have an agent, so they can’t go through my agent. It’s just so ridiculous. Somebody can just make it up. And that’s the Twitter generation. You wonder why I don’t like it.
First of all, to media out there that started that thing, shame on you.
I’ve never met or talked to Tom Gores. I have a great respect has done. I pull for the Pistons every day. I feel for what Joe Dumars is going through. Never once met or talked to him. So, all the all the people who tell me how many times I’ve talked to him or done this, to be very blunt about it, Matt, it gets sickening.
The Detroit Pistons will become the third Detroit major-league franchise with a minor-league affiliate in the Grand Rapids area when an NBA Development League team moves there next season, sources confirmed to MLive.
An agreement has been reached for undisclosed local owners to purchase the Springfield (Mass.) Armor and relocate the team to Michigan’s second-largest metropolitan area for the 2014-15 season, according to NBA, NBDL and local sources.
The Grand Rapids franchise will follow the hybrid model, whereby the Pistons will play players’ and coaches’ salaries and run basketball operations, but local owners operate autonomously in other business areas, including marketing and merchandising.
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. USA Today’s Sam Amick reports that Tom Gores will chase Michigan State coach Tom Izzo this summer to fill the Pistons head-coaching void. What positives could Izzo bring to Detroit?
Dan Feldman: Izzo has successfully designed and implemented extremely effective offensive and defensive systems at Michigan State. Even if those schemes won’t translate directly to the NBA, I have a reasonably high amount of faith in Izzo’s basketball acuity. His challenge with the Pistons would be different, but he’s shown he can achieve positive results when faced with similar challenges. There’s nobody in the world who has done precisely what the next Pistons coach must do, but Izzo has succeeded in a similar area.
Patrick Hayes: First and foremost, his offensive and defensive systems will work in the NBA. Particularly if you look at what MSU is running on offense this year, making great use of stretch bigs Adreian Payne and Kenny Kaminski, variations of that offense are clearly similar to what NBA teams run. He’s also adaptable to sometimes strange-fitting personnel. For example, he’s had successful teams that feature solid pass-first point guards (think Mateen Cleaves era), teams that make it work with shoot-first point guards (think Kalin Lucas or Keith Appling era) and teams that basically run their offense through a forward (think Draymond Green era). There are some successful college coaches that run systems that you can see would have no chance at working at the NBA level (Rick Pitino wanting to run a full-court press for an entire game, for example), but Izzo is one of the handful of college coaches out there whose system wouldn’t be a big question if he landed with a team with decent personnel.
Brady Fredericksen: He’d bring accountability. The Pistons haven’t had a coach that commands respect and has any clue what the heck is going on since Larry Brown. The Pistons are a rudderless ship as a whole, but if they can find a coach who has a clue and vision and knows how to get the wheels rolling in the right direction,that’s all a rebuilding team needs. The best thing that’d come with Izzo coaching the Pistons is that every Josh Smith 3-pointer would lead to a benching. Every. Single. One.
2. Conversely, what are some negatives that come with Izzo if he were to be the Pistons coach?
Dan Feldman: The key traits Izzo possess — being passionate, demanding and authoritative — definitely work for a college coach. He can’t be such a hardliner in the NBA. There’s no reason to believe Izzo can’t adjust – except that so few college coaches have successfully made the transition. And that’s where the biggest negative lies: opportunity cost. Luring Izzo to the Pistons would cost a lot of money, money that might be enough to get George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy or Nate McMillan. If you’re going to spend that much, where not go for a proven NBA coach? In terms of candidates below that tier, I like Izzo as much as any NBA assistant or less-successful retread. But he’d cost a lot more than those guys.
Patrick Hayes: We know Izzo can coax effort out of college players, and we know largely how he does it … he’s a tad, shall we say, high strung on the sidelines. That temperament isn’t going to work with NBA players in general, but particularly for a Pistons team that has become quite good at tuning out all styles of coaches over the last five years. Izzo is smart enough to know that, and I assume he’d work to reel in some of his more micro-managing tendencies if he took the Pistons job, but until he proves he’s capable of doing that, it’s legitimate to wonder how NBA players would respond to his occasional and public ass-chewings.
Brady Fredericksen: Patrick nailed it on the head, I don’t know how Izzo’s personality works in the NBA. Can you imagine him trying to coach Smith? His head would literally turn red as a strawberry before exploding. Oh, and you thought teaching Appling to be a good point guard over the years was hard, Tom? Well, let me introduce you to Brandon Jennings. Izzo is the quintessential college coach. He makes a difference in player’s lives and that’s great in college, it’s just at the NBA level guys don’t want or need that. Izzo’s hair-on-fire style works in college, but that isn’t going to work with NBA guys. They’ll tune out the noise real quick.
3. With all of that said, if you had to put a percentage chance on this, how likely is it that Izzo actually takes the Pistons job?
Dan Feldman: 15 percent. I wouldn’t call any potential coach more likely than the field, but if I had to pick one name, it’s Izzo — only because I believe Gores likes him. If the next general manager has a strong preference, that could swing everything. I don’t know when next season’s general manager will be in place, but I know Gores will be there.
Patrick Hayes: It’s still relatively low (I’ll say 3-5 percent range), but the Pistons do have a few things working in their favor. They have a franchise player in place in Andre Drummond. They have an owner willing to aggressively spend (sometimes to his own detriment) to quickly make the team competitive. They are Izzo’s home-state team and Tom Gores is a Michigan State alum. And, perhaps most importantly, Izzo is in the midst of what has been a challenging season. The team is losing seniors Payne and Keith Appling, they are likely losing Gary Harris (a potential lottery pick if he declares) and there’s even a chance that junior Branden Dawson could bolt if he keeps up his strong late-season play and MSU’s tourney run continues. That is a ton of talent to replace and MSU doesn’t have a strong recruiting class coming in next season. I believe Izzo that he is committed to staying in East Lansing, but I also believe he’ll always be intrigued by the NBA. If there was a time to jump ship at MSU, this would be a good time, since the program could be going through a transition phase next year.
Brady Fredericksen: Zero. I honestly think his flirtation with the Cavaliers a few years ago was the last chance. That summer seemed to not only take a toll on him, but also Michigan State. The Spartans were full of veteran players, starting the season ranked second in the nation, but the team absolutely bottomed out, finished 19-15 and barely made the NCAA tournament before being bounced by UCLA. I get that he’s striking out on the one-and-done recruits, but it just doesn’t make sense. I think he’d jump at the opportunity to coach a good NBA team, but the chances he’s had with Atlanta, Cleveland and now apparently Detroit can’t be that appealing.
"There’s been so many rumors over the years," the Michigan State coach said on ESPN’s "SportsCenter" on Tuesday. "I look at people I used to recruit against years ago [that] said that I’d be gone, but I’m still here and some of those schools have had three different coaches.
"I’ve always said I’d never say never to anything because you never know what it brings. But I got so much more work to do here. I have a great president, a great AD and a football coach that I really get along [with]. So this is a pretty good place for me right now. We’re in a pretty good spot. Program’s in pretty good shape.
"Ain’t broke, so why fix it?"
One name he’s expected to go after is Tom Izzo at Michigan State.
|Greg Monroe, PF 30 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -1
Monroe finished well inside, confidently took jumpers (making 3-of-5 shots from mid-range) and rebounded like he should. He even defended Derrick Favors (1-for-5) well in the halfcourt
|Josh Smith, SF 30 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +6
In the first few minutes, Smith made a 3-pointer and then airballed twice. (At least I think he did. It’s possible the second shot grazed rim). It seemed we were headed toward another game of Smith throwing everything toward the basket. Weeeeee. Instead, he settled down and played mostly within himself. He even made half his free throws. The Pistons are paying Smith to noticeably and positively impact games, but with him, the quietly decent games sometimes beat the alternatives.
|Kyle Singler, SF 28 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | +1
Singler was pedestrian offensively and a notch below that on the other end, where Gordon Hayward (32 points and six assists) had some success against him.
|Andre Drummond, C 34 MIN | 9-10 FG | 1-3 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +12
Drummond was an absolute beast finishing inside and on the glass. But, defensively, he too often ceded interior position to Enes Kanter (14 points and eight rebounds). Drummond must become a more-physical man-to-man defender.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 30 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -1
Jennings successfully got the Pistons into transition and semi-transition and was competent enough in the half court. He deftly balanced when to score and when to pass. His defensive shortcomings didn’t really cost the Pistons tonight. As Greg Kelser said during the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast, the Pistons prepared specially to defend Trey Burke. And it worked. Burke shot 6-of-15 with just two assists and two turnovers. I don’t know how many rookies receive that type of attention, but count Burke among them. That he struggled against a gameplan created to stop him shows, for all the promise he’s displayed this season, he must improve to become one of the NBA’s better starting point guards.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 24 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +18
If Jerebko maintains this resurgence, would he consider opting out of his contract next season? Considering he’s owed $4.5 million, I doubt it, but it would at least require a moment of thought.
|Tony Mitchell, PF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +4
He didn’t put himself in position to do anything but make free throws, but at least he did that perfectly.
|Luigi Datome, SF 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +4
|Peyton Siva, PG 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4
Siva drove by Burke – where have I seen that matchup before? – to set up a short Mitchell shot. He also lost Burke on the other end, allowing the former Michigan point guard to make a jumper.
|Will Bynum, PG 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +17
Bynum came in focused on setting up his teammates, and he did a superb job of it. Only five other reserves – D.J. Augustin, Eric Bledsoe, Cory Joseph, Phil Pressey and John Salmons – have had a game this season with so many assists and no turnovers.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 16 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +19
Caldwell-Pope might have given up something with his positional defense by spending so much energy on the other end, but he made up for it. One, he scored well. Two, he hawked the ball, getting a couple nice steals.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 27 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +17
Stuckey had a big fourth quarter, scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the final period. Yes, the Pistons led by between 12 and 22 points the entire quarter. Why do you ask?
One key tanking strategy is not altering your gameplan by opponent. If you run into a bad matchup, you stick with what you do and suffer the consequences. Loyer screwed that up by successfully implementing a plan to contain Burke. It’s as if Loyer doesn’t care whether a team that will surely let him go in a few weeks gets a better draft pick for the next coach! But I care. The Pistons are just a half game “ahead of” the Cavaliers for the No. 8 seed in the lottery, a margin for error tonight’s game shrunk. Loyer probably isn’t on board with tanking – and I don’t blame him – but as the face of the organization in these game reviews, his grade gets dinged for not steering the franchise where it should go – i.e., getting a top-eight first-round pick and avoiding sending it to the Bobcats.
- Teams: Detroit Pistons (25-44) at Utah Jazz (23-47)
- Date: March 24, 2014
- Time: 9:00 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Detroit Pistons have failed so far this season. The only way they can remedy this, is by continuing to drop in the standings.
It appears as though Detroit will miss the playoffs, and they will head into the offseason with more questions than answers. If they get a top pick in the draft, they could contemplate trading it for an above-average player provided that there is a market for such a deal.
However, the front office hardly inspires confidence in terms of building an adequate roster, which makes it far more likely for the Pistons to keep the pick. Before the NBA draft arrives, the Pistons must deal with this formality called “the regular season”.
It’s in Detroit’s best interests to lose, but athletes are hardly conditioned as such.
What’s more, going into Salt Lake City for a bout with the Utah Jazz is a rather odd proposition. Utah has historically been a difficult opponent at home, but they too are in the same boat as Detroit. Interestingly enough, the Jazz embraced the tanking idea fairly early on in 2013-14, while the Pistons recently joined the party.
Neither team will be confused with the Philadelphia 76ers (losers of 24 straight contests heading into tonight’s match with the San Antonio Spurs), but they still operate within the lower depths of their respective conferences.
Detroit has lost five straight games, and eight of their last 10. On the flip side, Utah recently ended a six-game losing streak, and owns the same record as tonight’s opponent over the last 10 contests.
Someone has to win tonight’s game, but I’m just not sure which team that will be, and what the added value of a victory will be.
That’s what tanking will do for you…