The Detroit Pistons are bad. I mean, really, really bad.
They have lost 13 games in a row, 10 straight at home and might not win another game in 2014. If that comes to pass they will have broken just about every record of futility in franchise history and be sitting at 3-28.
So it's no surprise that after another drubbing, 98-86 at the hands of the elite Portland Trail Blazers, Stan Van Gundy said, "everything and everyone is on the table."
How should we interpret that, and, more importantly, if we collectively put our GM hats on if everything is on the table then what should actually be done?
Let's start with the easiest course of action -- lineup changes.
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Changing the rotation
The Pistons starters are putrid. Andre Drummond is nowhere close to a lockdown defender, with foul trouble plaguing him as he works to execute the defensive and rebounding game plan, and his offensive effectiveness has an inverse relationship to his offensive workload. He's trying to score with his back to the basket and is shooting a career worst 46 percent.
Josh Smith leads the team in shots but of the 52 players in the NBA shooting at least 13 shots per game, Smith ranks 49th. Brandon Jennings started strong but after a wrist injury can't make a shot to save his life. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the best defender on the team by far, but his shot is incredibly streaky and unreliable.
It's time to reshuffle the rotation.
Step 1. Jodie Meeks is in and KCP is out
Jodie Meeks could debut Friday, and I think he should start in front of KCP as much as I love the hyphenate defender and his long-term potential. As discussed in yesterday's piece, Meeks can shoot at a high percentage with a high volume, and that's just what the worst-shooting team in the NBA is desperate for.
Step 2. Rest Brandon Jennings
It's obvious Jennings is not healthy since returning from a wrist injury. Jennings has hit just 13 of his 61 shots and needs to fully heal. The reason he's probably still out there is because his backup, D.J. Augustin has been completely ineffective all season. But it's not like if Augustin doesn't perform he could do any worse than Jennings at this point, and playing him heavy minutes with the team's best shooters might actually get him right. Plus, resting Jennings completely opens up a steady dose of reserve point guard minutes for rookie Spencer Dinwiddie. And getting a good look at rookies is exactly what really bad teams should be doing.
Step 3. Start Greg Monroe
Monroe is not having a good season. He's shooting a career-worst percentage and has been an absolutely awful interior defender this year (allowing opponents to shoot 55 percent at the rim). But this team needs an injection of offense wherever it can get it and Monroe is still the Pistons only reliable offensive option. He should start in front of Josh Smith.
Step 4. Put Jonas Jerebko in the rotation
Jerebko is fighting for minutes, but every time he's on the floor he's playing hard and making things happen. That is more than can be said for any of the starters currently moping around the court.
Would that make the Pistons a good team? Heavens, no. But it might make them watchable and get them to a point where they can start executing more of what is being asked of them on a regular basis. And actually doing things correctly at least opens up the possibility of positive reinforcement and (gasp) actual improvement.
Of course, you could make the case for rearranging these deck chairs any way you want to and it's bound to improve on the performance of what this team has delivered so far.
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Another option, and perhaps the best option, would be to do absolutely nothing.
In fact, that's the solution I proposed last January on the anniversary of the Tayshaun Prince-Jose Calderon trade in a piece called, "The courage of the status quo."
The reasoning then still applies now, perhaps even more so. No Ben Gordon erasers where the team forfeits a pick just to get out of a bad contract. No trading expiring deals to take on a longer contract. In fact, maybe losing is just what this team needs.
Constantly in the NBA purgatory of picking in the 7-10 range, the Pistons finally seemingly appear to be bad enough to actually finish with one of the three worst records in the NBA. It could finally be time for the Pistons to score a Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay or Justice Winslow of their own.
Any trades could upset the delicate balance of absolute ineptitude. It's this thinking that leads the Philadelphia 76ers to build strictly for the future (and it might work) and it leads one of the biggest winners in NBA history, Magic Johnson, to proclaim about the only team he ever played for,"I hope the Lakers lose every game."
The Pistons need a difference maker. They need a player that can score off the dribble, command double teams and force the defense to react. Good teams are able to draft well and find those players later in the draft, of course. But if the Pistons are destined to be bad then why not be as bad as possible?
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For the love of God, do something!
That is the detached, logical emotional case for doing nothing. But in my heart, as a fan, I can't take much more of this. The Pistons just look like a team that hates playing together, and I certainly hate watching them.
Something must be done.
Greg Monroe is unlikely to move given a relatively limited market and his preference to retain his Bird Rights to maximize the number of teams he could play for next season. And the Pistons shouldn't yet be willing to cut bait on young players like Drummond, KCP or Spencer Dinwiddie. But everything else should be readily available.
Provided that deal doesn't cost the team a future draft pick. Is there a deal out there that makes sense?
Already, there are signs of discontent and possible player movement with teams that are disappointing so far including Charlotte, New York and Brooklyn. And if the Knicks want to trade Andrea Bargnani and Tim Hardaway Jr. for Smith the Pistons should jump on it. Heck, I'd even take a Calderon-for-Jennings deal straight up.
But what if Brooklyn is willing to take on both Smith and Jennings for Deron Williams? Should the Pistons say yes? We explored the parameters of that deal in May. Yes, the Pistons get rid of two possible headaches, but they also sacrifice significant cap room in 2016.
Williams has a 15 percent trade kicker, which means the Pistons would pay him $24,199,220 in 2015 and $25,680,805 in 2016. That's a cap hit of just $2,354,723 next season but a massive $12,180,805 in 2016. Of course, with the salary cap about to explode in 2016 the Pistons, like everyone else in the NBA, will have plenty of money to spend and a finite number of players to spend it on so it makes the blow a lot easier to take.
Charlotte, meanwhile, probably isn't ready to cut bait on the Lance Stephenson experience already, but the Hornets have a massive hole at power forward, a go-to scorer in Al Jefferson and could be a fit for Josh Smith if the team was willing to take another Stephenson-sized risk. A deal centered around Marvin Williams and Gerald Henderson or Bismack Biyombo is extremely doable.
The team could also go the firesale route. Everything must go. The Pistons would have a much easier time finding homes for surplus parts like Caron Butler, Jerebko (expiring), Augustin and Kyle Singler (cheap) for second-round picks or flyers on young players.
What other trade ideas are out there? Or do you think the Pistons should do nothing and ride this tank all the way to the draft lottery? What would you put on the table if you ran the Pistons?