It's hard to describe the Detroit Pistons season as anything other than a disaster. The Pistons have joined the Cavs, Knicks and maybe the Kings as teams with an eye on big improvements and/or the playoffs that have completely and utterly failed.
The Cavs just fired their general manager. The Knicks are on the verge of maybe firing their coach. The Kings traded for Rudy Gay using expiring deals and middling young pieces.
What are the Pistons going to do?
We will certainly find out in the next six games. Play well and the Pistons could trade expiring deals for a legit player (likely) or even package expirings and Greg Monroe for a "blockbuster" (much less likely, in my opinion).
So is there reason for hope? That all depends on whether you're rooting for a low playoff spot or the retention of the Pistons draft pick. Detroit plays six games between now and the trade deadline on Feb. 21.
Detroit has home games against Brooklyn, Denver (back to back) and San Antonio. They will be lucky to win one of those games. The Pistons then face the hapless Cavs. Lets give them a win there, too. Detroit then plays a home-and-home series against the Charlotte Bobcats, who currently occupy the eighth playoff seed in the East and are two games in front of the Pistons.
If they lose those two games they could be sitting four games out of the playoff picture, 14 games below .500 and every incentive to trade any and all vets and expiring contracts for anything they can get.
But if they perform above expectations, say steal both Bobcats games, beat Cleveland and steal one of the others then they could vault into the seventh or eighth seed and be looking to upgrade their roster.
And if they don't upgrade, they shouldn't be expected to stay in the playoff hunt. Not even in the woeful East. According to ESPN, the Pistons have played the second-easiest schedule in the NBA (tied with Charlotte and Cleveland, coincidentally).
But after the All-Star break things get a whole lot tougher for the Pistons. Their next 15 opponents are: Atlanta, Dallas, Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, New York, Chicago, Minnesota, Boston, Sacramento, Toronto, Indiana, Denver, Phoenix, L.A. Clippers. Seven home games and eight road games. Nine games against the West with six on the road.
The Pistons' remaining schedule is ranked 18th in the NBA, according to TeamRankings. Teams with easier schedules than Detroit going forward include teams in their way of the playoffs (Brooklyn has fifth-easiest schedule and Charlotte has the seventh easiest) and a handful of teams with worse records than them (Utah, Cleveland, Boston and Orlando).
Standing pat probably means the Pistons miss the playoffs and either narrowly lose or narrowly keep their draft pick. But if the team doesn't stand pat, these next six games will dictate the direction the franchise takes.