The future isn’t so bright for the Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are in a heap of trouble. They may have the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft, but they’re also locked into a roster that was good enough to tie for 13th in the Eastern Conference this season. There will be some growth with some of the younger players on the roster (Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, and Austin Daye, mainly), but with no Piston expected to make a significant jump any time soon, Joe Dumars had better hope that he doesn’t botch this year’s lottery pick. Or, as they say in NBA circles, “He had better not Milicic it.”
That’s a bit of pressure to produce with a decent (but not surefire) pick, but Dumars deserves no sympathy for the position that he and his team are in this summer. Remember, Joe D constructed this team with his bare hands. It was he that traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson and struck out on the Darko pick.
On the bright side for Pistons fans, Dumars thinks he has identified the problem. From the Associated Press:
“Any time you don’t have the season you expect, there is going to be disappointment,” Dumars, the president of basketball operations, said Tuesday in his annual postseason meeting with the media. “This is the first time in a decade that we’ve had a season like this, and we learned a lot from the experience.”
Dumars won two championships as a player on teams that were built around defense and hard work, then built the 2004 title winners in the same mold, but didn’t see that intensity this year.
“We had some slippage in terms of the toughness and grit that we’ve had for the last 10 years,” Dumars said. “We drifted some from what we were when we were successful.”
Detroit could theoretically have an opening to improve in 2011-2012 after the Pistons shed Tayshaun Prince’s $11 million contract, but even then they’re looking at $45 million in guaranteed salary. That number doesn’t include an extended Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum (a free agent this year), Jonas Jerebko, DaJuan Summers, or anyone capable of playing center. The financial outlook doesn’t look any better in 2012-2013 either, as the Pistons have no notable salary coming off the books prior to that season.
Things could be pretty bad for quite some time in Detroit if the roster is left to develop organically. With the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft, the Pistons are slated to select someone in the general vicinity of Cole Aldrich (according to Draft Express) or possibly DeMarcus Cousins (according to NBADraft.net). Either one of those players would be very helpful, but they’re not bringing the Pistons out of the basement.
I’m glad Dumars has “toughness” as his talking point, because he’ll have plenty of time to practice and repeat it over the next three seasons.