This was the season when the Detroit Pistons were supposed to finally make the leap we've been dreaming about for four years.
With Cade Cunningham coming back, it made sense that the Pistons would at least be a little better and the fanbase (including myself) was optimistic that there would be some progress. We had our doubts, and weren't expecting the playoffs, but there was optimism. 30 wins would have been considered a victory for the franchise (which shows you just how low the bar is set) but now that seems like a laughable pipe dream.
The Pistons have lost 21 straight and with upcoming games against Philly and Milwaukee, there is no immediate end in sight.
This is a far cry from the team Troy Weaver talked about in the letter he penned to fans at the end of last season, when he said, "we are confident that we continue to be on the right path to success."
Troy Weaver's letter to Pistons fans
I try to be completely fair when assessing a GM, as there are many parts of building a team that are out of their hands. Some of it comes down to luck and there are things like injuries that can't be controlled. I don't think Troy Weaver thought this team was going to be the worst in the NBA again and injuries have played a part of their record.
But there were parts of his letter that now ring as insincere or naive in the face of what is happening. This part in particular stood out:
"We are in an excellent spot to upgrade our roster this offseason. We’ve positioned ourselves for another high draft choice in this year’s draft, we have a favorable salary cap position, and we’ll continue to talk with teams and evaluate trade opportunities as they present themselves."
I agree that the Pistons were in a good position to improve the roster. They had around $30 million in cap space, the 5th pick in the draft and Cade Cunningham coming back. It seemed impossible that they would be worse, but here we are.
Weaver did turn the 5th pick into Ausar Thompson, an exciting young player with huge upside at a position of dire need, so you can't complain there, but that's pretty much where Weaver's offseason ended. He used his cap space to add Joe Harris and Monte Morris, two players who have contributed nothing.
He didn't sign any free agents but did offer an early extension to Isaiah Stewart when there was no real reason to. Much like Killian Hayes, the Pistons had the whole season to evaluate progress and were at no risk of losing either one in restricted free agency.
The only trades were more salary dumps for second-round picks and when you look at the roster, it's bereft of trade assets. The Pistons have a bunch of expiring contracts, no extra draft picks and unproven young talent, so the big trade is not going to be easy to make.
After one of the most lackluster offseasons in memory, we were told how this team was ready to be competitive, with Weaver saying:
"Realistic goal for our team? Is to play 82 meaningful games…We want to go down to the wire every game with us playing for something. We don’t want to just look at the last 25 games and not be in contention. We want to be in contention for 82 games, the entire season."
The Pistons weren't even in contention for the first 25 games. Given how bad the team has been, this statement was either him blowing smoke up our collective rear ends or Troy Weaver actually looked at this roster and thought it would be competitive. I am not sure which one is worse.
Weaver's whole approach with the public has been flawed from the first time he said the word "restoration," setting unrealistic expectations of greatness for a team that would settle for "not the worst" at this point. It now seems like hubris at worst and naive at best.