Fanshots

Zach Lowe beats a dead moose

2

Joe Dumars won't call this a playoffs-or-bust season, so I will: It's a playoffs-or-bust season for Detroit, especially given the ripple effects of Okafor's injury and the general unpredictability of the rest of the morass. The challenge: Detroit cannot afford to fall behind after starting 4-20 in 2011-12 and 0-8 last season, and that means Maurice Cheeks has to work out a lot of dicey rotation questions quickly. Detroit will start the fascinating Josh Smith–Greg Monroe–Andre Drummond ultra-big trio, with an often inefficient point guard in Brandon Jennings orchestrating on what will be a very, very cramped floor. The last starting spot is up for grabs, and if Cheeks gives it to Rodney Stuckey, a non-shooter, Detroit's offense could crater. All three of Chauncey Billups, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Singler would be better options, and though Gigi Datome lacks the foot speed to play the position, Cheeks has to find minutes for him. Datome is a deadeye shooter on the wing who should also be able to play some small-ball power forward — perhaps rendering Jonas Jerebko expendable. Cheeks has to learn a lot of stuff, and quickly — the right balance between lineup types; the best wing combinations; whether the league will let him implant an electric shock device he can activate whenever Smith rises for a 20-footer; and how well the Monroe-Drummond frontcourt can work defensively. Detroit is another candidate for a "win now" trade, though it's tough to find any appealing bait if it doesn't dangle Monroe — perhaps expendable now, with Smith aboard and Monroe's agent, David Falk, almost certainly demanding a max contract.

Grantland

Chauncy Billups on his role with the Pistons

1

"I’ll tell you what: I’ll always consider myself to be a starter and a point guard," Billups said. "Since then we’ve upgraded that spot. (Jennings is) a fantastic young player. I’m not here to be a star. I had my 15 minutes of fame, enjoyed it. But I do feel I can be very effective in whatever position Coach puts me in."

Vincent Goodwill with the Detroit News.

Mo Cheeks won't be charged

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Detroit Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks will not be charged in a domestic incident that occurred Aug. 30 in Birmingham, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper told the Free Press today. [...] Cooper said the witness in the investigation was uncooperative with prosecutors and refused to press charges. "She left the state and refused to cooperate," Cooper said.

From the Detroit Free Press on Friday | Original story

Drummond on Team USA minicamp: "I'm going there to try to take somebody's spot"

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Drummond, asked if he is trying to position himself to make the men's national team in time for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, said he is thinking in a more accelerated time frame. "It ain't no long term, I'm trying to make it now," Drummond said. "I'm not going there for fun. I'm going there to try to take somebody's spot. I wouldn't use this as just a workout. I'm going there to play as hard as I can."

MLive.com

The Highs and Lows of Josh Smith

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So lets get this out of the way: his shot selection was abysmal—there was some devil perched atop his left shoulder whispering about the sexiness of bricked 18-footers and pull-up jumpers, and for some reason, he listened. He put a chink in his efficiency, lowering his field goal percentage with every ill advised upchuck. Aside from that well documented flaw, Smith was about as complete a player as one can be, but that didn’t stop the onslaught from the public or the hilarious "boo!"s that accompanied every outside shot. He didn’t deserve half of the heat laid at his doorstep, but he received the complaints with class, even if he maintained a stubborn resilience to continue his questionable shot selection.

Daniel Christian of Peachtree Hoops reflects on Josh Smith's career in Atlanta.

Billups on Darko hindsight

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"If [Dumars] had drafted either Melo or Bosh, I think maybe that whole team would still be together,’’ Billups said. "We probably would have more championships down the road. But this is the NBA and things happen. But, of course, I always think about that.’'

Chauncey Billups to Chris Tomasson. Also: Oral history of Darko debacle

Phil Jackson's role likely overstated

2

"Phil came in for a couple days, and we had a couple phone calls after that. He was on board with it," Dumars said. "We talked some playoff series the Pistons and Bulls had (laughs), we had some good conversations about that." [...] "The thing he and I talked about most wasn’t the Pistons coaching position but coaching in general," Dumars said.

Read more at the Detroit News. In hindsight, it doesn't sound like Phil Jackson had a very large role at all. Perhaps instead of him doing Tom Gores a favor, as everyone reported, this was Gores tossing Jackson a bone to help get his name out there for a potential front office gig.

DO IT KINGS!

17

Here's a surprising bit of news: the Kings, who own the No. 7 pick, are showing interest in French center Rudy Gobert, according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. Most mock drafts have him as a late lottery/mid-first round pick, but none have him pegged for the top ten.

HoopsRumors.com

Villanueva picks up $8.5 million option, amnesty not likely

7

"It's obvious what I'm going to do," Villanueva said shortly before the trade deadline. "Would you let that money go?" [...] Villanueva is the Pistons’ lone candidate for the league’s amnesty clause, a rule from the CBA that allows teams to waive players and erase the dollar figure from the salary ledger, but the player still gets his money. The Pistons have indicated that’s not happening.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Phil Jackson arrives

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Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson is scheduled to arrive in the Detroit area today and begin consulting the Pistons on their coaching search, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Free Press this morning. [...] The source added that, if Dumars thinks it would be productive, Jackson would participate in some of the candidate interviews this week.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press
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