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Don’t write off the entire season

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Krista Jahnke (formerly Krista Latham) is reminding everyone not to let a two-week slump taint the memories of an otherwise fantastic regular season. From her column in the Detroit Free Press:

So for a moment, try to look past the ending, as excruciating as it was. For a moment, forget the last three weeks of the season. Focus on the seven months that came before them.

Day in and day out, we saw four All-Stars take the court together. We witnessed 64 wins, more than any other season in franchise history.

On most game nights, it was often breathtaking to see this team's combination of skill, chemistry and heart.

To see the speed of Richard Hamilton as he breezed around the court, only to stop suddenly to catch and shoot. To see Rasheed Wallace play basketball like a carefree kid, full of life and emotion. To see Ben Wallace do things so few can, like when he perfectly placed his hand on the ball in the only space not covered by Shaquille O'Neal's massive mitts to force a jump ball.

To see Tayshaun Prince continue to grow and develop and become even closer to the NBA star he's bound to eventually be. And especially this season, to see Chauncey Billups emerge as an elite player, to see him run a brand new offense with selflessness and unrivaled confidence.

How often does one town get to see all that on one team in one season?

Not many.

Eli Zaret is also reflecting on the season that was, and he's optimistic that things will turn around in the future. From his post at Blue Collar Blueprint:

No matter what raging blather you hear on talk radio or around the water cooler, you should take the measured approach with your friends and co-workers. The Pistons are still one of basketball’s top four teams with the established framework and experience to win more championships. Joe Dumars has his finger on the pulse of his team and of the league in general and will do some of the things Riley did.

I'm still in a bit of funk following Game 6, but I completely agree with both Krista and Eli. In the long run, this is probably good for the Pistons as it will add to their hunger next season.

Some fans have called for this team to be blown up, but that's an overreaction -- it needs to be tweaked, for sure, but that's about it. Joe Dumars said as much himself while meeting with the media today:

Do you anticipate bringing the same top 6 guys back or is anything a possibility?

"I expect to bring the same 6 back. In terms of Ben, one thing you can't forget about Ben's situation is that Ben is an unrestricted free agent. So at the end of the day, it's going to be Ben's call. I'm going to do what I need to do to get him to come back, but at the end of the day, it's going to be his call what he wants to do. So my intentions are to bring the top 6 guys back, but I don't have the final say."

Is there a time frame you've kicked around with Ben Wallace?

"Not really. I have not sat down with Ben and talked about a time frame. We talked Saturday, and just briefly my thing to him was, 'How do you want me to deal with this with Arn (Tellum, Ben's agent)?' and he said, 'Man, look just try to get it done.' I said, 'Cool.' and that was the end of the conversation. It was really simply that quick."

At this point, I really think Ben Wallace will be back, and especially after this disappointing postseason, I don't think the Pistons will have to break the bank to make it happen. Only time will tell, but from the sounds of things, that time may not be too far away.

Bad ending didn't ruin ride [Detroit Free Press]
2006 "A Wasted Season?" Hardly! [Blue Collar Blueprint]
Joe Dumars Press Conference Quotes [Pistons.com]