Detroit Pistons and the myth of flexibility

Feb 18, 2023; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weavers attends the
Feb 18, 2023; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weavers attends the / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Three-plus years of losing culminated last night with the Detroit Pistons getting spanked at home by another lousy team to tie the franchise record for consecutive losses.

During all of this losing we've been sold on a future, on the potential of all of the young players and of a day when the franchise will be "restored" to glory once again. Fans have been patient, as we realized a rebuild was necessary and that it would take time, as the Pistons had few assets to start with, so we cheered when the young players did something well, ignored the losses and put our hope in the draft and the future.

We weren't the only ones, as GM Troy Weaver has also put all of his eggs in the "hope" basket, as he has tried little to actually improve this team other than choose players in the draft. His trades have mostly been head-scratchers (Plumlee) or outright terrible (Bey) and he's added nothing in free agency.

While the five other horrible teams from the 2020-21 season have all made progress, the Pistons miraculously keep getting worse, which you wouldn't think was possible after only winning 17 games last season.

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For the third offseason in a row, Troy Weaver took on salary dumps instead of trying to land impact players, or even guys who play at all, as Joe Harris and Monte Morris have yet to contribute.

We were told this was in the name of future "flexibility," a word Weaver loves to bandy about. So the Detroit Pistons have been flexible for years, with a ton of cap space wasted on nothing, as over the last three offseasons Weaver has spent over $60 million and has Alec Burks, Monte Morris, Joe Harris and some second-round picks to show for it.

The $30 million he wasted on Harris and Morris (bad luck on Morris, which I thought was a good move) kept the Pistons flexible again for next offseason. Great.

The Detroit Pistons are financially flexible, but who cares?

As the Detroit Pistons compile the worst record in the league again, they can take solace in the fact that they will once again be financially flexible and have a ton of cap space to spend next summer.

But flexibility only matters if you actually use it, and so far Troy Weaver hasn't. I've seen a lot of GMs fired for many reasons, but I don't think I've ever seen one fired for doing nothing, but outside of drafting, that's pretty much what Weaver has done.

He hasn't taken a chance, or used any of his precious financial flexibility to improve the team, each offseason kicking it down the road and telling us to "Just wait until next year" while teams like Orlando, OKC, Indiana, and even Houston, are thriving.

So the Pistons have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast, with no awful long-term contracts and a ton of money, but what exactly are they going to do with it? Free agency in 2024 is thin on realistic options that would actually help.

Even if there were a ton of great options, the Pistons could have seven roster spots to fill and certainly aren't going to sign seven free agents.

The trade market may be even grimmer, as Detroit has little of value to trade and there aren't that many teams with impact players who are available, though that could certainly change.

So then what? More flexibility? More hoping for lottery luck? More waiting for the next LeBron in the draft? Eventually, all of this flexibility has to amount to something other than more promises and hope. I think Weaver will be given the trade deadline and possibly the summer to show that all of this financial flexibility he's worked so hard for can turn into a roster that makes sense and can actually start to win games.

But if not, there is always 2025, or 2026 and I hear there are some great jr. high school prospects in the pipeline. Who knows, maybe the flexibility will be a generational thing, passed down from father to son like a myth, a story we tell our grandkids about how the Pistons were so flexible that they never won again.

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