We just watched the Pistons underperform in the playoffs again.
Many people are going to (and, in most cases, already have) call for Flip Saunders' head on a silver platter.
Err—we've got bigger problems.
This may have even been Flip's best year. He masterfully put Stuckey into a big role in the team after he missed the first 25 games of the season due to a broken hand. Stucky has turned out to be a pleasant surprise, and Flip should get a shake of the hand for treating a rookie, an injured one at that, perfectly.
He used his bench nearly to perfection all season long, and in the playoffs, he showed that he knew when to call timeouts and when to make key substitutions.
The Pistons' incompetence in the playoffs this season was not the coach's fault, remember that.
Look no further than about 20 minutes ago to see what's wrong with the Pistons. The Pistons had just put up a 10-point lead on the Celtics and looked on their way to Boston for a seventh game.
Then it all fell apart. And it wasn't because of Flip. Tayshaun didn't even pay attention while he was standing with the ball secured in his hands on his own free throw line. Rasheed was knocked to the floor on the Celtics end and then didn't even get up for good five seconds, when there was only two minutes left in the ball game.
There's not a coaching problem, there's a problem with energy.
Many times when watching the Pistons, I feel the energy on the court stops when John Mason finishes his introductions.
These guys aren't the 2004 Pistons that were out on the court chest-bumping and high-fiving at half-court when a timeout was called. These guys are gassed, and, for no apparent reason, they're too "used to it."
Well, look at the light of day and realize that if you keep acting like you're too "used to it" for much longer, you're going to go down as the dynasty that could have been, but never was.
So, what needs to be done?
Look, I think Flip should stay, but if he doesn't, I'd gladly take Avery Johnson and welcome him with open arms. At least we know the defense would still be there.
On the court though, I think for at least two more seasons, Chauncey and Rip are untouchable. Tayshaun Prince...eh...I'm starting to get skeptical on him. I love what he brings to the table on defense, and I love it when he gets the ball in the corner. If Prince has the ball anywhere above the free throw line, though, he turns into a huge liability problem.
Lots of people want Rasheed gone, but I don't think it's time yet. Technicals or not, he still brings excitement to the game and he's the only player the Pistons have who can get the crowd back into the game.
I think the odd man out is Antonio McDyess. I love what he's done for the Pistons. He came in after multiple injury-marred seasons, but hasn't missed any extended period of time in the last four or five seasons.
He's been a solid contributor, but I think he's starting to wear down. He's nearly useless on the boards now, and all he has turned into offensively is Rip Hamilton at a forward position. Mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper. And while he's good at that, more needs to come out of his position. He's not explosive anymore, and, at this point with the evolution of the NBA, he's undersized to play power forward.
The Pistons either need to unload McDyess to a team for a 3-point shooter (think a Kyle Korver-type player) to come in off the bench in late-game situations such as the Pistons could have used tonight, or put McDyess on the bench (which, with McDyess' mentality, I think he would actually welcome, for he's a great team player) and put Maxiell as the starting power forward to bring better size and more energy to the floor.
Maxiell has proven this post-season that he is ready for a starting spot and he can't be a bench player for much longer. Run this guy ragged this summer to shed a couple pounds, and he'll be a force.
Let's not blow the Flip part of this out of proportion, okay media? He's doing a fine job. Blame the players on the floor, not the coach on the sidelines making all the right moves.