November 3rd, 2008 is a day that will go down as one of the worst days in Pistons History. On this date, Joe Dumars traded team leader PG Chauncey Billups for SG Allen Iverson. Amazingly, on the same day, he signed SG Rip Hamilton to a 3 year 37.5 million dollar extension. Joe felt that Iverson could play PG, which it turned out that he couldn't. This led to a very disgruntled pair of shooting guards battling over a starting position. And the Pistons stumbled into the playoffs, only to be swept by LBJs Cavs. The silver lining to this debacle was that Iverson became a free agent at the end of the season, which seemingly allowed Rip Hamilton to reclaim his position as starting SG for the Pistons. Inexplicably, Joe signed SG Ben Gordon to a 5 yr - 50 million dollar contract that same offseason. Joe, again, said that Gordon could play point. Again, he couldn't. This led to Rip becoming completely disenfranchised with the Pistons and eventually led to the Pistons buying out his contract in 2011. Rip could've had his number hanging from the rafters, instead, he got booed when he returned to Detroit on his new team, the Chicago Bulls. Ben Gordon was a complete flop with the Pistons, and they had to give up a 1st round pick (that ended up being this years #9 pick - more on that later) just to get rid of him. And, the Pistons went from going to 6 consecutive Conference Finals (2003-2008) to not making the playoffs since 2009, and quite possibly the worst franchise in basketball over the last 5 years.
Its impossible not to see the similarities to the current situation with big man Greg Monroe. Like Rip, Greg Monroe is a very well liked, high character, highly skilled basketball player. Like Rip, the Pistons acquired a player that plays the same position (this time they drafted big man Andre Drummond in 2012). This led Monroe to become more of a PF/C. Then, inexplicably, they signed someone else that played the same position. PF Josh Smith with the money they saved in the Ben Gordon trade. And again, Dumars said that Smith could play a different position, SF this time. And again, he couldn't. And, finally, Joe was relieved of his duties as GM.
Stan Van Gundy has inherited this messy situation. The way that SVG handles this situation will be highly scrutinized for years to come. He will have decisions to make: 1. He could trade a very difficult to trade Josh Smith or/and 2. He could execute a sign and trade for Greg Monroe. or 3. He could sign Monroe to a multi year 8 figure per year salary and keep Smith. This option would involve the Pistons spending 25 mill + for Smith and Monroe plus another 3 for Drummond. Then, in 2016/2017, the Pistons would extend Drummond to a max contract and have at least 40 million dollars in salary wrapped up in 3 guys that led the Pistons to 29 wins this year.
Personally, I feel like any of these could work. And a combination of these could work. I'm cautiously optimistic about SVGs ability to coach big men, and I did not have any confidence in Loyer or Cheeks. My only wish...listen to Greg Monroe. Bring him in and treat him with respect. Greg will undoubtedly get a lucrative offer from another team. And it is quite possible that the new team will be better for him - better team, better chance to play C, and maybe a better environment. If Monroe comes to SVG and says, "I want to go to _______". I hope the Pistons brass fulfills his wishes. Hes been a class act and I wouldn't blame the guy if he wanted out after all he's been through with the Pistons. The last thing I want for the Pistons and for Greg is another Rip situation.