This FanPost kind of goes hand in hand with my What would you do if Pistons make the playoffs? and How much can fans help the Pistons? FanPosts. Just this morning alone I've read at least 10 articles on the Pistons from yesterday, most of the comments on those articles, as well as got caught up on the updates on here from the time I left work yesterday to this morning. Some of the comments on all of the articles made me start thinking about how we can take the next step.
One of the articles I read this morning was from one of the PistonPowered writers Patrick Hayes on how he thinks the roster will break down this year. Most of it seems pretty good until he got to PF and C where he stated that he thinks Monroe will start at PF and whoever plays better in camp between Kravtsov and Drummond will start at C. What bothered me about it was that it didn't appear that it was thought out with hopes of moves or thoughts of what next year may/could bring.
You have those who think the Pistons will be in the bottom of the eastern conference (Son of Laser), some who think we have a good shot at making the playoffs as the 8th seed (me), and those who think we could do either but more than likely be somewhere in between (everyone else). Well, depending on where we end up and how we end up there will determine what our next step needs to be. I'd like to explore some scenarios and get your opinions on them.
Pistons finish 13th to 15th in Eastern Conference
Definitely not where I want us to end up. If we end up here, something really went wrong or everyone else is really just that good. If we even look to be in this position two weeks before the trade deadline, I'm calling for a major overhaul. Trade Prince, Daye, Villanueva, Maxiell, Maggette and Bynum for whomever or whatever you can, even second round picks. Sadly, I think their trade value would be even closer to the floor than they already are if we're in this position at this point in the season, so even trading them for a second round pick may be hard. But that will leave us with our youth movement, draft picks coming, and plenty of money coming off the books to do something with.
Sadly though, with all of that money, it may be useless. If we're that bad, who's really going to want to come to Detroit? They're going to either want to see 1) a major overhaul with massive potential and/or 2) a lot more money than they're probably worth. Then, if they don't end up panning out, we'll say that they're overpaid (a risk that may need to be taken). To overpay even one star will likely cap us to just getting one person in free agency which wouldn't really be enough to turn us around. The rest of the cap money would go to securing/extending Moose and/or Drummond and Knight (depending on performance).
Pistons finish between 9th and 12th in Eastern Conference
Last year we finished in 10th place in the conference with a 37.9 win percentage. Each of the last two years, we were up one place in the conference with a better win percentage (only 1.3% higher in 2011-12 from 2010-11) than the year before. So, though marginal, we're seeing a upward trend. If we finish here, we still have our lottery pick we gave up to Charlotte to get rid of Gordon, we have many people coming off of the books (if not already gone by the trade deadline), and we'll show an upward trend or that we're stable. But that's only if we're at 10th or 9th in the conference (don't want to go backwards). So this may help us out even though we didn't make the playoffs. We'll still likely have to pay a star player more than he may be worth, but possibly not as much. Hopefully homework is done extensively and not signed as soon as the clock hits 12:01 AM in free agency.
If at the trade deadline we look to be in this position with a strength of schedule similar to what we've already face, I say we look to trade at least Prince, Maxiell and maybe Maggette at the deadline, but I wouldn't necessarily feel the need to get rid of them as strong as I would if we're just horrible. There's still a need to get rid of them, but at least we could be a little more picky on what we receive back.
Pistons finish in the 8th or 7th seed in the Eastern Conference
Well, now we have a positive and a negative. Negatives include loss of draft pick and fear of extensions. If we're here, either Drummond, Kravtsov and English have been contributing like crazy...or Prince is playing better and so is Maxiell, Villanueva and Daye. I'm pretty sure Villanueva will never be a Piston again after this season or the following. I don't even think Joe could mess that up (*crosses fingers*). But if Daye's performing or Maxiell is, here come the extensions. My hope is that we're in this position because of Drummond, Kravtsov and English more than Daye and/or Maxiell. Now, if they're performing respectably and we can keep them on the cheap, MAYBE. But I'm not leaning that way. If they have a career year, why now? Daye could somewhat be explained, but Maxiell would be on the decline afterwards (I would think); not likely to see a season better than that.
So what's the positive? Image and fans. More fans, more interest for stars. We'll also have shown that we've improved while getting quite young. If we're showing likely to be in this place around the trade deadline, I definitely think we need to move Daye and Villanueva, but I might be willing to keep Prince and Maxiell around (depending on what's being offered). But if we're showing that we're on the rise and we made it to the playoffs, even if we get swept in the first round, at least it could take down what we may have to pay a star to come to Detroit. This would allow us to likely bring in another star.
Now, obviously a lot of this depends on how each individual player is playing at that time to determine who stays and who goes. But where we are really determines how we can take the next step forward and what to do with all of that free agent money. It allows Joe D some negotiation room. When we signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, we were on the decline. We were still in the playoffs and had a decent showing, but we were on the decline and players were getting past their prime. This called for giving them a little extra money to entice them. But if we can show we have a young group who is on the rise, it should lessen the "extra" money that a star would require to be enticed.
So, where do you think we need to end up to take the next step? Lottery, show stability, or playoffs? I'm not asking where you think we will end up, but where SHOULD we end up, big difference. Also, Son of Laser, there was no disrespect in my mentioning your name, but you were the first that came to mind. I'll edit it if you wish.