The Detroit Pistons: It's Time for Change
Amid recent turmoil in the United States, change is a common theme. An entire presidential campaign was run off of change, and economic catastrophe has called for recent changes as well.
While these changes may be more imminent, I, like many Pistons fans, would like to see some changes within this Detroit Pistons team.
For the last decade, through the Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, and Flip Saunders phases, this team has relied on defense and chemistry.
Despite only one championship, professional basketball was the focal point of Detroit sports. The Red Wings have always been competitive, the Tigers had their brief stint, and I won’t even mention the Lions.
The Pistons reached their sixth straight conference finals in the 2007-08 season. Only arriving in the Finals twice in those six years, there was a motive for change.
Following their loss to the Celtics in six games, Joe Dumars, President of Basketball Operations, promised changes. While rebuilding wasn’t the direction of choice, Dumars publicly proclaimed that everybody was in play—referring to trade availability.
“The idea you can make yourself bad and make yourself good again, that’s a farce,” he said. “I have no interest in completely ripping the team down. Will I look to be making significant changes? Yeah, you’re damn right I will."
While the Pistons’ offseason did not consist of any blockbuster transactions, it did include the removal of Saunders and the beginning of the Michael Curry era.
It seemed as though Dumars was interested in seeing how a change in strategy could possibly reflect the finished product, instead of blowing the entire roster up.
With the Pistons off to a 4-0 start, the Pistons’ change in coaching appeared to have created a new, enjoyable atmosphere for the team. Some began to believe the modification provoked a turnaround in the organization.
On Nov. 4, the Pistons made an immense trade. Dumars shipped off Chauncey Billups, the Pistons’ most prominent player and fan favorite, along with Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samb for veteran All-Star Allen Iverson.
The blockbuster deal sparked the media to question the motives of both the Nuggets and Pistons.
The Nuggets traded the better player and an expiring contract, which could be most valuable with the upcoming free agency market being the largest in the history of the NBA.
However, the Pistons traded a guard who is highly sought after by many teams in the league. Billups is a guy who is much less egotistical and less prone to off-the-court issues.
McDyess, who was bought out by the Nuggets following the trade, made the decision to return to the Pistons in December.
Since the Iverson trade, the Nuggets have been most impressive, recording a 16-5 record. However, the Pistons have compiled a mediocre 9-9 record, causing additional calls for change in the organization.
Recently, Rasheed Wallace was involved in the newest bunch of trade rumors. However, that emergency move seems unlikely at this point, following Detroit's third straight victory.
Regardless of what direction the organization decides to pursue, there is no doubt that this team needs a change.
When the trade was first publicly announced, I didn't disagree with it. I truly believed Iverson’s desire to win could and would overshadow any chemistry issues, but that has not proven to be the case.
It has become apparent that people don’t change easily. Iverson’s antics that have plagued him throughout his career are still existent. This includes a missed practice and a $25,000 fine for comments made toward a fan.
While there may not be any additional blockbuster moves made this season, the Pistons do have a need that must be addressed as soon as possible. They need a rebounding and shot-blocking center, a role that is not adequately filled by current center, Rasheed Wallace, or one of the newest members of the team, Kwame Brown.
Wallace is undoubtedly a power forward, and Brown is a post player who is best suited coming off the bench.
If the Pistons want to remain in the hunt for the Eastern Conference title, they’ll need a post presence to compete with Cleveland and Boston, the two teams most project to fight for the conference title.
Chris Kaman, starting center for the Los Angeles Clippers, would be a great fit in this system. He’s a great complementary player and doesn’t seem to fit in with the Clippers.
A Wallace-Kaman frontcourt could help Detroit in its hunt for the Eastern Conference title. There’s no doubt that he is worth an inquiry, but it depends on what the Clippers demand in return.
If the Pistons decide to pursue a less expensive post presence, perhaps a one-year rental, they could provide some much-needed support for this year.
Regardless of what the Pistons conclude, there needs to be change.
The season may conclude before that change is made, whether that includes freeing up some money for the upcoming free agency boom or trading for another superstar.
This team cannot win with the current lineup unless the players compromise and put the team ahead of themselves, which seems unlikely due to Wallace and Iverson having two of the largest egos in the NBA.
The 2004 Detroit Pistons were comprised of players who believed in a system. They were a team modeled after a “defense-first” mentality, which ultimately allowed them to beat a more talented team in the Los Angeles Lakers.
Joe Dumars needs to take a long look at this team. He needs to decide what current members of this Pistons team he sees in future plans and what players are disposable in order to make this team back into the contender that it once was.
If no change is made, you can expect one long season after another.
That’s the great thing about Joe Dumars; the guy is not afraid to make a move.
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