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. The Pistons not-so-surprisingly didn’t make a move at the NBA’s trade deadline on Thursday. Does this tell you anything about the state of the franchise?
Dan Feldman: In itself, no. Maybe the Pistons were aggressively — and quietly — negotiating trades that just didn’t get done. Or maybe Tom Gores has stripped Joe Dumars‘ power, including the ability to make trades. I suspect the truth sits somewhere between, but where on the spectrum it falls would mean a lot of different things.
Patrick Hayes: Not anything that we didn’t already know — the only assets the team has that others would be really interested in giving up good value for (Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe) were likely not available. And the players that the Pistons would probably be open to moving (Josh Smith, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Jonas Jerebko, etc.) probably weren’t appealing enough to any suitors to give up anything remotely valuable in exchange. As for the state of the franchise, the Pistons are a bad team suffering the consequences of several years of mismanagement. We already knew that before the trade deadline.
Brady Fredericksen: That the team knows minor deals wouldn’t fix them. There were probably opportunities to shuffle minor pieces around, but outside of trading Smith, there probably weren’t any deals that would help push the Pistons ahead of the apparently far superior Bobcats. They don’t need to make moves for the sake of making moves, especially when they’ve made, what, one good move (last season’s Prince-Calderon trade) in the past four years?
Jameson Draper: This tells me that the franchise isn’t going for the playoffs this year. If they were, they would probably make a couple small moves to put them into better position. They didn’t, and it looks like this season is another lost one.
2. It’s rumored that the Pistons wanted more than just empty expiring contracts for Smith — smart strategy to hold off on moving him?
Dan Feldman: First of all, I’d be fairly surprised if the Pistons actually got any offers of only expiring contracts for him. So, keeping him probably was smart. I don’t want to repeat the Ben Gordon mistake and deal a valuable asset just to dump a contract. The Pistons aren’t in a position where that makes sense.
Patrick Hayes: Pretend you’re Dumars. You’re on the verge of failing to deliver on a mandate to make the playoffs, coming off of back-to-back blowout losses to the Charlotte Bobcats, having your hand-picked coach fired 50 games into the job and for the second time in less than five years, watching two major, expensive acquisitions flop. Would you (again, pretending you’re Dumars, not a person who can objectively see the summer of 2013 for the failure it was) follow up that awful recent track record by essentially giving away Smith for nothing but an expiring contract? It would be admitting less than a year into the Smith signing that you failed yet again. Also, I think it’s a stretch to assume an expiring deal was even on the table for Smith. Maybe the Pistons leaking that they wouldn’t take just an expiring for Smith was their subtle way of saying, “SOMEONE PLEASE OFFER US AN EXPIRING DEAL!”
Brady Fredericksen: Smart. First, I don’t think Dumars will be back next season, so why would ownership allow a potentially lame-duck GM to make more moves? Secondly, Smith has been a trainwreck this season, but he isn’t a bad player. He has a PER of 12.2 at small forward, but a very good rating of 19.9 at power forward. His contract is big, but there are a lot of inferior players with terrible contracts. Smith could be a big trade chip when the draft rolls around for whoever’s in charge.
Jameson Draper: I think so, only because I think any moves at this point would be kind of pointless, and it kind of is like Dumars admitting his errors, which he would never ever do.
3. This is going to be who the Pistons are the rest of the way, what’s the outlook for the final 28 games?
Dan Feldman: The Bobcats are on pace to win 37 games. To best that — remember Charlotte has the tiebreaker — the Pistons would have to go 16-12. They haven’t done that well in a 28-game stretch since one that began in 2008! The outlook? Dim.
Patrick Hayes: It’s bad, bordering on disaster. We all know what disaster is — missing the playoffs AND not being bad enough to keep their lottery pick, which is top-eight protected. I think we can all agree that we HATE THE DISASTER OPTION SO MUCH. But let’s not pretend either of the non-disaster options are all that great. Making the playoffs only to get destroyed by Miami or Indiana brings them a couple of home playoff games worth of revenue, but based on attendance and waning fan interest do you think those playoff games are selling out? And if they miss the playoffs and keep their lottery pick? Sure, that gives the promise of hopefully getting another impact player in the draft. But at the end of the day, it’s another trip to the lottery and a likely reset button/rebuilding effort if there are major regime changes in the offseason, so who knows how long it could be before the Pistons are a relevant franchise again?
Brady Fredericksen: We’ll see the same inconsistencies. These guys are who they are, they’ve been together for over 50 games — the adjustment period is over — and they’re not going to magically change their style of play. They won’t flame out quite like they did last season, which could be a huge problem. In order to 100 percent keep their pick, they’ll have to finish in the league’s bottom five. If the playoffs are unlikely, their best hope is that Cleveland passes them (likely) and the Knicks get hot and do the same (ditto) before they’re battling with true tanking teams. It’s an uphill climb no matter what direction they go — fitting, considering how much of a struggle the last five seasons have been.
Jameson Draper: Poor. I said in the last 3-on-3 that the Pistons would not make the playoffs if they lost both games after the break to the Bobcats, and that’s exactly what they did. The Bobcats are a “playoff” team and are several games under .500. This Pistons squad can’t match up with THAT? Yeah, no way they’re a playoff team.