Inspired by a comment by MF Awesome.Hog, this is my take on the challenge offered to take over the franchise from now through the summer and describe how things would be different. I'm doing this as though these posts are articles coming out periodically, just as we consume real Detroit Pistons news.
The Story So Far: After another disappointing loss to a bottom-tier team (the Orlando Magic) and a very-public squabble on the sidelines between Maurice Cheeks and the infamously even-keeled Will Bynum, the new management decides a change needs to be made. The move to fire Pistons legend Joe Dumars made such changes inevitable; now the shoe finally drops.
These are my Pistons.
NBA trade deadline mania begins as Pistons, Nets, Nuggets, and T-Wolves execute biggest trade in NBA history
It's only been a week since NBA prognosticators began predicting an epic or monumental trade deadline. Apparently, at least four teams have taken it upon themselves to start fulfilling those prophecies.
The Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Timberwolves have executed an enormous trade that will shape their franchises immediately and for years to come. For Detroit, it means erasing a summer of missteps and starting anew; for Brooklyn, a push to maximize the present; for Denver, a new direction; for Minnesota, hope for the future.
The details of the trade are complex. Detroit receives Minnesota's flashy Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, as well as disgruntled, aging Denver PG Andre Miller for their back court. They also take on Denver's injured Italian small forward Danilo Gallinari and injured center Javale McGee, a native of Saginaw, MI. Enigmatic Nuggets forward Anthony Randolph and Nets rebounding machine Reggie Evans round out Detroit's haul in management's first move since parting ways with much maligned former general manager Joe Dumars. The move also virtually erases Dumars's busy summer, sending away 2013 free agent signings Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, and Will Bynum, the latter of whom had a longer tenure with Detroit than Smith and Jennings, but had a verbal confrontation with Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks during a game earlier this week.
Even after such a large move, Detroit may not be done. With two injured players as part of their take, the early buzz around the league is that more may be on the way.
Brooklyn, on the other hand may be set for awhile. In the trade, the Nets receive Denver fan favorite power forward Kenneth Faried, Russian center Timofey Mozgov, and the expiring contract of Pistons forward and Brooklyn native Charlie Villanueva. From the Nets perspective, the move allows them to save money on the brutal tax burden that the team will be subject to and lessens the likelihood that they will fall prey to the dreaded repeater tax most teams are looking to avoid.
In addition, it may save Nets GM Billy King's job; by cutting bait with injury-prone star center Brook Lopez, whom the team had recently considered trading for the umpteenth time, the team acquires two pieces in Mozgov (a favorite of Nets ownership for whom the feeling appears to be mutual) and the high-flying Faried who should help Brooklyn in their playoff run - perhaps their only one with the services of massive King acquisitions Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce over the summer.
Analyzing the Nuggets acquisitions of former Pistons forwards Josh Smith and Jonas Jerebko, Nets center Brook Lopez, and Timberwolves point guard JJ Barea, Denver's motivations appear fairly simple. Two of the biggest contracts of their payroll were not going to help the team at all this year, and had questionable futures with the team at best, despite each having more than two years remaining on their contracts. In the best of health, McGee's contract was already looking like a questionable decision (Javale's specialty). Perhaps the ambiguity raised by recent news that he might miss the rest of the season like Gallinari suggested to the Denver front office that it might be best to just cut their losses and move on.
With a new general manager at the helm, and new coach in Brian Shaw whom, at times, has been less enamored with The Manimal's play than the fan base generally was, making a move for a stronger front court made a lot of sense. When healthy and playing at their peak, both Smith and Lopez are spectacular talents, one with serious offensive shortcomings, one with massive defensive shortcomings. The Nuggets likely believe these can cancel each other out because of their respective capabilities on the other side of the ball. With the lengths of their contracts, they will certainly have time to find out. And with the dramas surrounding Miller and Barea on their old teams, making that swap was a no-brainer.
But, the Timberwolves may have made the brainiest (or at least thinkiest) move in bringing in Piston expatriates Jennings, Bynum, and SF Kyle Singler. Despite all the contortions of disgraced former GM David Kahn to bring him to Minnesota, Rubio has not been the difference maker he was advertised to be. With the chances of keeping superstar power forward Kevin Love looking slimmer and slimmer, the T-Wolves needed to start immediately making moves to attempt to surround him with players who could help him believe winning with the team is not a lost cause.
Jennings has been just as prolific a distributor as Rubio this season, but his ability to score is leaps and bounds beyond the Spanish sensation. His additional scoring touch and undeniable swag should help Love feel less alone in shouldering the scoring load with Kevin Martin. Bynum is a veteran backup who wants to win, but the real intriguing piece is Singler. Singler and Love have shared a history since they were high school rivals, with Love beating Singler's team to win the state championship. Coupled with Singler's sharpshooting ability, maybe it's enough to get Love thinking that there's a chance for this team after all - or at least that new GM Flip Saunders's regime knows better than the last how to pick winners.