In 2004, the Pistons were the crown jewel of the NBA. They were the definition of team. Led by 4 time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, sharpshooter Rip Hamilton, and defensive youngster Tayshaun Prince, they seemed poised to take over the NBA. For a while, they did. They played in the 2005 Finals, losing to the Spurs. They reached numerous Conference Finals, played as one unit, and rebuilt the careers of struggling players. Then, inevitably, it all changed. Wallace left for Chicago, Tayshaun didn't develop much more, Billups was traded, and Rip became a cancer on a losing team.
Ten years later, it's different. The atmosphere when you enter the Palace doesn't hum the way it used to. Instead of asking yourself if the Pistons will win another championship, we ask ourselves whether the Pistons will draft in the top 5 of the draft. Instead of wondering what kind of trade deadline moves we will be making to make the team better, we are hoping GM Joe Dumars comes to his senses and lets go of the past. The Pistons have regressed back to that mid 1990's team, without much hope, hoping we don't lose a game to the Bobcats and can compete against the Kings.We watch this team and see mental mistakes, crappy strategy, and a team that doesn't look cohesive at all. There is talent, some hope in the form of young big man Andre Drummond. We see some semblance of the past, when the Pistons defeated championship caliber teams Miami and Brooklyn. Then there are the inevitable clunkers against the botoomfeeders. They bring us back to Earth.
So what do the Pistons need to do? They need to grow up. The Pistons need to accept that they made mistakes.
Dumars has made a mess of this team. After the debacle that was the signing of Charlie Villaneuva and Ben Gordon, he went out and signed redundant "star" Josh Smith. Smith has handicapped what Drummond and power forward Greg Monroe can do by consistently jacking up ridiculous three point attempts and showing a general lack of interest in leading the franchise. He sign and traded for point guard Brandon Jennings, and he's been a black hole on a lot of possessions. He signed Italian star Luigi Datome and signed former Louisville guard Peyton Siva, both of whom have potential. And Head Coach Mo Cheeks has neither one play very much. Kyle Singler, the starter at small forward most of last year, sits on the bench, and 2013 first round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, drafted to be the three point specialist that the Pistons needed, doesn't get many looks because of Smith and poor game-calling by Cheeks.
Both Dumars and Cheeks are at fault here, with Cheeks getting relieved of his duties on Sunday. But Dumars need to admit his mistakes and fix it. Trade Greg Monroe, since it doesn't seem like they will be able to resign him. Trade for a first round pick in a seemingly deep 2014 Draft. Get rid of Josh Smith. Find playing time for Datome and Siva. The Pistons need to develop the players they have drafted and realize that they are not going to be a championship team until they can develop talent. The Pistons have some good young players, but it's going to take an organizational overhaul that commits to development. And admitting mistakes. The Pistons need to grow up.