Loss to Hawks tonight might mean Pistons are on a pre-Isiah redux

Essentials

Date: Nov. 3, 2010

Time: 7 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Pistons: 0-4

Hawks: 4-0

Probable starters

Detroit:

Hawks:

  • Mike Bibby
  • Joe Johnson
  • Marvin Williams
  • Josh Smith
  • Al Horford

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +10.5

Over/under: 195.5

Score: Hawks win, 102.5-93

Three things to watch

1. The Pistons might sink to pre-Isiah depths.

The Pistons’ 0-4 start is their worst since 1999, but an 0-5 start would be the worst since 1980. The good news that year was Detroit’s 21-61 record earned them the No. 2 pick and Isiah Thomas.

Another loss as ugly as last night’s might signal the Pistons are in line for another great pick, and that would be a nice silver ling. But that won’t make the remaining 77 games very much fun.

2. Josh Smith’s excellence.

It would be a miracle if the Pistons trade for Josh Smith. After Al Horford signed a five-year, $60 million extension Monday, many speculated the Pistons could make a run at Smith. But it just doesn’t make any sense.

The Hawks aren’t over the luxury tax this year. All their starters are locked up for next year, and they still won’t be over the luxury tax. An aging Mike Bibby will be the only starter not signed the following year, and the Hawks still won’t be over the luxury tax.

Smith is the Hawks’ best player – there’s a reason the TrueHoop Network nearly voted him to its All-NBA second team – and they have no financial reason reason to dump him.

You don’t hold onto a Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams or even an Al Horford at the expense of Josh Smith. He’s too good. Watch tonight, and you’ll see.

The Pistons’ sale will also hang up a trade for Smith, who has a large trade kicker. But from Detroit’s perspective, that should be the only slowdown. I hope Vince Ellis is wrong when he writes:

When the sale becomes official, the Pistons would seriously consider a Hamilton-for-Smith swap as it appears Hamilton needs a change of scenery.

But the Pistons likely wouldn’t part with Prince for Smith. They like Smith better as a player, but Prince’s expiring deal is like gold.

I’d be livid if the Pistons turned down Prince for Smith, let alone Hamilton for Smith. Fortunately for my mental health, I don’t think either offer will come up.

3. Rodney Stuckey is positioned for a bounce-back game.

Rodney Stuckey had his first poor game of the season last night, but to be fair, many players have poor games when Rajon Rondo guards them. Facing Mike Bibby will be a much easier challenge.

If Stuckey wants to prove he’s turning the corner, he has to shake off bad games and take advantage of suspect defenders.

Pregame reading

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