Henry Abbott emailed me asking my thoughts about the Pistons' future, specifically whether Joe Dumars might actually break up the team's core by pulling off a major trade. My answer? Maybe. Okay, it was a little more detailed than that:
Short answer: I don't know if he will, but I don't think he's scared to.
Long answer: I've heard him mention how he was still playing the last time the Pistons were in this situation, and how quickly the Pistons went from winning the title in '90 to completely falling out of relevance within two years. The Cavs are in the Finals this year and the Bulls are only going to get better -- if each of those two teams improve by just two wins in the regular season next year and the Pistons slip by two wins, Detroit is suddenly a third-place team within their division and a No. 5 seed at best in the East. For all the talk about how weak the East is, the Central Division is the balls.
Plus, there's precedent for Dumars making a bold move: Jerry Stackhouse was the franchise player in '02 (and the league's second-leading scorer in '01) and Dumars wasn't scared to pull the trigger for the (relatively) unheralded Rip Hamilton. Granted, that a was a different situation, but it was unpopular and certainly a risk for a 50-win team.
If he does make a move, I have completely no idea who it will involve. A lot of fans assume Rasheed Wallace will be the first to go, but I'm not so sure. I could see Dumars making another Stackhouse-type move and trading Hamilton, since he's not viewed as a "flawed" player around the league and would probably bring back the most bang for the buck.
Another thing to consider is that the Pistons have two first-round picks -- I'm going to assume they use the first one (No. 15) on a point guard for the future who joins the rotation immediately, but that second pick (No. 27) probably won't be contributing next year at all, which means it could be included in a trade and not be missed.
Either way, the team *needs* to bring back Chauncey Billups, or at the very least get *something* out of him in a sign-and-trade. If that doesn't happen ... man, I don't want to think about it.
We've been having some great discussions in the comments the past couple of days about whether the core of this team needs to be split up, whether a new coach would solve the problems or if a simple attitude adjustment would do the trick. '
For the sake of some afternoon fun, let's assume for a moment that Dumars is in fact prepared to split up the core four of Chauncey, Rip, Sheed and Tayshaun. Who would you like to see the Pistons acquire? Fortunately, it looks like Real GM's Trade Checker has finally updated for the offseason (near as I can tell, ESPN's Trade Machine is pretty much useless for this discussion right now since it's still using 2006-07 salaries ...). Get creative and think outside the box -- let's figure out some trades that help both teams and could theoretically happen.