As I'm sure you've noticed, I've been a bit negligent in my duties to keep DBB a daily stop full of freshly-served Pistons links and analysis. The easy explanation is because real life is impossible to ignore, and when time gets crunched, the hobby is the first to be cut out.
That said, there's another, less tangible explanation: most of the "news" being published of late are simply depressing opinion pieces about why the Pistons are no longer an elite team, complete with post-game quotes from downtrodden players and proposed solutions we've already thought of (and, sadly, make too much sense for the coaching staff to try).
Remember when the Pistons struggled out of the gate when Iverson joined the team? I remember joking at the time that Detroit's 4-0 start before Iverson joined the lineup might be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. At least, it was supposed to be a joke. At 25-21, the Pistons have played exactly .500 ball since AI joined the lineup.
That's not to say I blame him for the team's struggles -- to be fair, he's not the one who waited until the season was two games old before pulling the trigger, it hasn't been his decisions that have botched the rotation.
Everyone talks about how Curry has been put into a difficult situation, but Iverson's situation is 10 times worse. Not only is he a future Hall of Famer forced to swallow his pride, he's also had to do it while auditioning for a contract. Before being traded, he figured to be one of next summer's most highly-sought after free agents. Now, can you even picture a team giving him the full mid-level exception? He's due a $15 million pay-cut in a few months.
But to his credit, he seems to be the most optimistic player in the locker room (and even that's being turned against him: "One of the reasons Iverson might be more optimistic than, say, Tayshaun Prince, is because Iverson has not had the kind of team success of a player such as Prince") and the most willing to come out and say what everybody else in the room is thinking. From Ken Berger of Sportsline:
Iverson said friends in the league have told him how much easier it is to guard him now because he doesn't handle the ball much in the Pistons' offense. One player who has competed against him for years said Iverson should be playing point guard for Detroit; he should forget about scoring and drop 10-12 assists a game. Curry tried Iverson at the point for 14 games; the Pistons were 6-8.
"What's the answer?" I asked the Answer.
"You've seen me throughout my career and you can see for yourself," he said. "If you've been watching and paying attention to how I've played all my career, then you can see the difference from how I used to play to how I'm playing now. It's easy. It's easy for anybody to see. I'm 33 years old, and I'm a positive man. I'm going to stick with it regardless and I'm going to do whatever it takes for me to help my teammates."
What the Pistons -- and Dumars -- do between now and the Feb. 19 trade deadline will be one of the fascinating storylines in the NBA. When Detroit hosts Miami on Wednesday night, it'll be three months since the trade. Nobody knows if it will be days or months before Dumars makes another one. Already there are rumblings Iverson is on the block.
"If they trade me from here, just don't send me overseas," Iverson said. "As long as it's in the NBA, I'll be happy."
If the Pistons are going to salvage this season, they need to make a trade, because at the rate they're going they'll be under water by the All-Star break. Some people think Joe Dumars won't trade Iverson this early because it'd be akin to admitting a mistake; to that I say, since when has Dumars been too proud to admit failure?
Despite a ridiculously poor track record with lottery picks, Dumars has always recouped value: he turned Mateen Cleaves into Jon Barry and Carlos Delfino; he turned Rodney White into a future first-round pick (Josh Smith) used to acquire Rasheed Wallace (and win a championship); he turned Darko Milicic into Rodney Stuckey. He signed Nazr Mohammed to a five-year deal, realized he erred and 18 months later moved him for two expiring contracts. He takes garbage and turns it into fuel so often his nickname should be Mr. Fusion.
If he thinks he can improve the team, he'll make a move. The only question is whether he thinks the current situation is as hopeless as most of the people in the media and fans in the stands make it out to be.