By: Eric Thomas
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, the deepest draft in years, and the Pistons are standing on the sidelines for all of it. The Pistons have made their share of mistakes in the past five years, but it seems like the chickens are all coming home to roost at once. They have three players they’re probably desperate to unload. They have Andre Drummond signed for two more years, and there isn’t anything on the horizon that might compel him to stay in Detroit. While rumors continue to bubble up around Josh Smith and Greg Monroe, the obvious needs to be said: this team must be totally destroyed before it can start thinking about a bright tomorrow.
By the way, welcome Stan Van Gundy!
The Pistons need to learn from the mistakes of the previous administration. We’ve spent so much time and energy directing our anger at Joe Dumars that we’ve forgotten that the Pistons have to plot a way forward. In the past, the Pistons have sought piecemeal solutions to get incrementally better, and that strategy paid dividends during the “Goin’ to Work” era. Since then it’s done nothing but produce an ill-conceived team incapable of competing in today’s NBA. They’re just good enough to deny themselves a really good draft pick; they’re just bad enough to be boring. The Pistons haven’t accepted reality. It’s time that they accept that the blunders of the past have put them years away from being a serious contender, even in the dreadful Eastern Conference.
They gambled and won on the potential of Andre Drummond, who was only 18 when he was drafted. Drummond is a bona fide burgeoning star, but they’ve squandered the opportunity. With no first round draft pick in 2014 and little hope of being much better this year under new coach Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons need to face facts. There will be little reason for Drummond to stick around Auburn Hills when he becomes an RFA in 2016.
Increments aren’t going to suffice any longer. The Pistons need to eschew the strategies of the past and focus on dismantling this bird’s nest of bad decisions and missteps. A fire sale is probably the best way forward. NBA teams who aren’t in the running for free agents (let’s face it, Detroit isn’t one of those markets) must improve through the draft and hope that they can quickly build a team around a superstar. The best move right now might be to send Drummond to a contender in exchange for a lucrative package of draft picks and expiring contracts. Other teams will make that deal, and the Pistons will be a step closer to the full rebuild that’s clearly necessary.
It would be awful to see Drummond go. He’s been an excellent player on both sides of the court, and his upside is tremendous, but a clear-eyed view forward is vital right now. The Pistons have been loath to rebuild when it was clear to everyone outside Championship Drive. They need to stare in the mirror and slap themselves into accepting who they are and the consequences of the past few years.
You might think this is a dumb idea. If you have a better one, throw it in the comments below. With the state where the Pistons, there are no dumb ideas. They foolishly made the playoffs the priority last year, and they’ll be paying for that decision for years ahead.
They must break clean from the last five years and start making good decisions, or this pit they’ve dug for themselves will only get deeper and last longer.