The Pistons franchise has long suffered the symptons that ail a disease stricken body. After the 2004 championship the ‘against all odds’ franchise, that carved its place on the league by being a first class organization off the court and a gritty team on it, has been on a steady but slow decline, descending towards the wrong side of mediocrity and willfully remaining there. Another franchise would have seen the glory years behind them and embraced the kind of destruction that breeds creation. Tear it down to build it back up. Not the Pistons.
Perhaps it was pride, fear of going down and never coming up, or maybe a mixture of ignorance and self-confidence what placed the Pistons on the "rebuilding of the fly" path that has put them in this crippling position, but an aversion to the, usually, natural process of professional teams (rebuilding) has proven the worst of all possible options.
The "Going to Work" era was done long ago. A team can have a "hard at work" culture, but it cannot hold onto the characters of the past. The Pistons went at it backwards; instead of instilling a culture, giving whatever team that wore the Pistons uniform an constant identity to adhere to, they began to shape shift according to the trends of the moment while holding on to pieces of a faded era.
Then the pieces were gone and the franchise was left with an approach that was not supported by the culture of the team nor the pieces that comprised it. To look at this team for the last 3 to 4 years and pretend to put out a product that will compete for the playoffs is but a continuance of the denial of the death this team had long suffered. The fatal blow was handed long ago, when a man nicknamed Boobie made a fool out of those "Going to Work" veterans, but the franchise insists on standing there, bleeding out while pretending to be fine. And it’s not due to the right kind of pride, a refusal to be defeated, but rather a pride, if it is pride, that refuses to acknowledge its own insignificance.
Many young players have been sacrificed at the altar of this death or dying body that still holds on to an unattainable illusion of itself. Rodney Stuckey was sacrificed long ago, as was Arron Afflalo, Amir Johnson, Austin Daye (yes, even him), Jonas Jerebko, Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe and, if it doesn't change its way, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Andre Drummond.
The Pistons stand on a dangerous spot, and this trade deadline may define their future. We could talk about Tom Gores and the still unknown identity of the new Pistons management, but Joe Dumars is still the face of this franchise and the constant of this long period. Joe Dumars can admit defeat; he can bury the body and finally grant it the honors it deserves as he bows out for the sake of this organization's future and the reputation of a fallen hero, himself. Or he can double down, he can go on in this senseless path towards the playoffs, continue on his focus on the now, ridding the Pistons future of, at the very least, Greg Monroe (he wouldn't be the only young piece moved) and putting others in danger.
Allow me a couple of examples. If the Pistons sit KCP in favor of Stuckey or Monroe/Drummond in favor of Smith, what does that serve but the foolish stubbornness of not admitting where this team really stands? If the Pistons trade for guys like Eric Gordon, Arron Afflalo or any other 2 guard, where does that leave the promising Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? If the Pistons insist on ball dominant players, going for the win now mentality, where does that leave the offensive growth of Drummond?
You can blame Greg Monroe for not being good enough at 23 to carry this team. You can blame Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at 20 for not being an established enough scorer. You can blame Andre Drummond for not having yet a post-game at 20. You can blame Jonas Jerebko for not looking pretty enough on the bench. You can blame Peyton Siva for not shedding the cobwebs in the few minutes he has played at 23. You can blame Tony Mitchell for, at 21 years of age, being too raw still. Just know that it only means the continuation of a long ago defeated "rebuilding on the fly" mentality and that this dead body, that insist on holding on to its life, was really death long, long ago. Now, it only spreads the germs of its rotting body; infecting with its disease everything it comes in contact with.