Tomorrow night, my brother and I will head to the Palace to watch the Pistons take on the Bucks. Over the past few years, I have become a big fan of the NBA and it led me to buy season tickets. It's been a disappointing year, but I still enjoy the game day experience. I just wish that experience involved more fans cheering for a better product.
My expectations going into this season: A .500 record, 7th or 8th seed in the East, further development of Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings maturing into a true point guard, and a winning home record.
Instead, the three bigs didn't work, the defense has been atrocious and the product on the floor has been bad. Remember when we beat the Pacers in Indiana? Yeah, I don't either. I was upset originally at the firing of Mo Cheeks, but I know what it signaled. Changes are coming and the team is tanking. I thought tanking would mean minutes for Peyton Siva, Luigi Datome, and Tony Mitchell. But our starting five has found a way to tank all on their own.
So lets talk about the future. I appreciate what Joe Dumars has done, but his time has come to an end. I expect he is let go before the season is finished. The Pistons should immediately target Scott Perry, Assistant GM of the Orlando Magic. Perry is a former college coach (Eastern Kentucky) and worked with the Pistons until recently. With the Pistons, his role was player development and helping day-to-day with the personnel. He also had a stop in Seattle, working under Sam Presti. Perry is ready to take over a team on his own, especially if he can focus on basketball.
I trust Perry to bring in the right Head Coach, but I want Fred Hoiberg. His experience playing in the NBA and the T'Wolves front office overrides any concerns about the professional "jump." Hoiberg is disciplined and has worked with difficult rosters in the past.
To remind you of the great job he has done, look at the 2011-12 ISU team: Hoiberg's second season as Head Coach, the team is not ranked and picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12. A roster that included Royce White (moody, tough to motivate, extremely talented with an unconventional game = Josh Smith), Korie Lucious (kicked off of MSU, irrational confidence in jumpshot, not a true point guard = Brandon Jennings), Chris Babb (tweener without a true position, three point specialist = Kyle Singler), and Melvin Ejim (Offensively gifted forward, solid rebounder, awful defender and not terribly athletic = Greg Monroe). Sure they aren't perfect comparisons but go with me. The team goes 23-10 and loses in the third round to eventual National Champion, Kentucky.
It took two years to take a losing program with a difficult roster. He is the exact type of coach that can turn around the Pistons. But he will need some help. I'm sure Jim O'Brien is itching to get back into coaching. He has ties to Perry and coached Hoiberg, so it should happen. Also, Rasheed Wallace needs to stay. You know why? Because the ball don't lie.
As for the whole Drummond/Monroe/Smith dilemma, here's the deal: Look at what the 76ers did with Jrue Holiday as a guide to handle Monroe's RFA distinction without having to give him a max deal. We don't have enough minutes of Drummond/Smith to get any idea of how they play together. But, I like what it does defensively and it also brings Smith inside. Monroe should be traded on draft day for a first and a player. You know who might be interested: The 76ers. I'm sure they are looking for a complement to Nerlens, and Monroe would be perfect. Thad Young's presence wouldn't take away from the validity of this idea. I'll take James Anderson as part of that swap by the way.
So lets say we get the 7th pick and 11th (from that trade). We should be thinking about the wings! Gary Harris, James Young, Dario Saric, Rodney Hood, Kyle Anderson, Nik Stauskas, Jerami Grant - there are plenty of capable guys that can be taken there.
In free agency, a backup big man is a must. No need to waste the little money we have, but a combo guard who can fill that "sixth man" role will be needed with Stuckey out as well. I really like Spencer Hawes, Marcin Gortat, or Channing Frye. Also, what about Nate Robinson? Price seems right after this Denver stop.
So going into 2014-15, we could be looking at:
C - Andre Drummond | Marcin Gortat | Josh Harrelson
PF - Josh Smith | Jonas Jerebko (Just bring him back)
SF - Kyle Singler | (Rookie) | Luigi Datome
SG - (Rookie) | Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PG - Brandon Jennings | Nate Robinson | Will Bynum
It's not ideal, but it's realistic. More than that, that is a roster than can fight to be .500 right away. We can compete. From there, the development of Drummond and company could make us a contender. We have to be smart and tying ourselves financially and then getting pennies on the dollar for Smith could keep us spinning for years. So yeah, let me know what you think.