With another abysmal loss on a Sunday (the Pistons still have not won a Sunday game this season, and the 96-85 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers was the closest game they've had), and an obvious lack of chemistry with the starting unit for Detroit, the Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson trade is looking to be a problem.
Richard Hamilton is not the same. Tayshaun Prince is playing every single position, which is a problem in its own right. Allen Iverson is skipping practice already and not gelling with his teammates. Rasheed Wallace is actually doing what Rasheed always does; he's shooting three-pointers and not helping the team more by posting up. Kwame Brown is, well, Kwame Brown.
This looks and shows to be nothing more than a .500 team. And that is exactly what they are since AI's arrival, 6-6.
Tonight was the icing on the cake. With just over two minutes left in the first quarter, head coach Michael Curry benched the entire starting five of the Pistons.
"I'm not trying to send a message," Curry said of his decision to pull his starters. "They weren't playing well, just take them out, and put someone else in. Our starters put us in a hole that we battled back from the entire night. When we did battle back, there were times when guys that came off the bench, we had to give them a blow. This game is on our starters."
Oh, and to ice it all off, there is now an apparent communication problem with at least Tayshaun Prince and the coaching staff. Prince, who has arguably been the Pistons' best starter all year, was benched for the entire fourth quarter! He went 4-8 with 10 points and three rebounds.
"Tay didn't play well tonight," Curry said.
"Huh? I thought I was playing pretty good, if you ask me," he said. "I thought I started the game off well, trying to get the guys into the flow," said Prince, who was not happy about his fourth quarter benching.
"Like I told you before, it's always tough for me because I'm in a position where I'm put at the point guard position, I'm trying to make plays for (fellow starters), get them going. And like I told you before, sometimes I'm going to have a good night doing it."
Bottom line: You know you're in trouble when there are five minutes left in a close game and you have Amir Johnson at center and Walter Hermann at power forward. (Yeah, he's an actual NBA player.)
We are only 12 games in, and perspective is always key. But you would think by this point the Pistons would appear more comfortable together. Instead, they look more lost and inconsistent than ever.
If Richard Hamilton can't learn to find himself without Billups the Pistons are truly in trouble.
If AI can't play better defense and find a way to gel with his teammates, kiss the season goodbye. (Maybe there is a reason why Denver is doing so well after the trade and the Pistons aren't.)
And if Curry doesn't stop this whole circus show of having a new lineup in every five minutes of every game, then, well, Detroit may as well kiss another coach goodbye.
This trade might turn out to be a trade for 2010 more than this year. But make no mistake, Joe Dumars expects to win now, too. And this team, right now, is embarrassing him.
AI isn't doing himself any favors. The offense just doesn't click with the guy.
But at a time when veteran Pistons should be showing up, there has been but one point of consistency over the past week—second-year player Rodney Stuckey.
No chemistry, bad coaching, and inconsistency to an extent I've never seen, is making this trade look like the wrong thing for the Pistons. At least for this year, and at least for right now, at 12 games in.