The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and as usual the Detroit Pistons didn't make a move. No shake-up of this disappointing team. No deal to balance the pieces on this mismatched roster. No nothing. But that doesn't mean it was a bad NBA trade deadline for the Pistons. In fact, there were many positive developments Thursday that should make fans happy. Now, most of these positives are going to look an awful lot like negatives but bear with me. It's all about the future because the present is ... ugh. Lets run them down.
1. No Greg Monroe trade
While some fans wanted Monroe traded the solid majority are still behind Moose and all his low-post scoring and quality rebounding. Monroe would have definitely been the easiest piece to move, especially if the team was intent on bringing in a small forward. But there was no Monroe trade. Not for Harrison Barnes, Jeff Green, Evan Turner or anyone else. Instead the team decided it would be more prudent to hold onto its 23-year-old, offensively skilled big man into the offseason and into restricted free agency. That doesn't necessarily mean they will definitely keep him. He could get traded on draft night for a lottery pick ala Jrue Holiday or part of a sign-and-trade. But I wager either of those scenarios would net the Pistons a better piece than any of the above small forwards. A day without a Monroe trade is a good day.
2. The team tried to change Josh Smith
It's painfully obvious that the big-three experiment of Andre Drummond, Monroe and Smith is not working. The fact that of those three players the one they decided to move was Smith was the correct decision. Smith, of course, wouldn't have brought much back in return, but he should be viewed as the odd man out of the three. He's 28 and when Andre Drummond finally puts it all together he'll be in his 30s. Besides, if the past year has taught us anything it's that every contract is tradable. In the past year Rudy Gay has been traded TWICE as an attractive asset. There are teams where Smith makes sense, Detroit just isn't one of them. It's unsurprising that the team was unable to find a taker, but Smith is at the absolute nadir of his value. There's a better chance the team could move him in the offseason, and that decision might be made by new front office leadership, which is heartening. Speaking of which ...
3. Lack of activity another sign that there will be a new GM after this season
Joe Dumars has done great things for the Pistons organization as both a player and an executive, but his track record lately is simply not good enough to keep his position. He is a lame duck and a complete lack of activity on trade deadline day does nothing but reinforce this notion. This team needs a new key decision-maker and it looks more and more likely that change is coming.
4. No trade means team even more likely to keep its draft pick
Sad as it is to admit, a starting lineup of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond is probably more conducive to losing than any lineup featuring two of those players. The Pistons have played like a bottom-five NBA team since the beginning of the year and while the jury is still out on interim coach John Loyer not a whole lot has changed. Detroit looked like a bad team yesterday and they look like a bad team today. The Pistons currently sport the 10th-worst record in the NBA and to keep their draft pick they need to be in the top eight when the dust settles. Speaking of which ...
5. The Cleveland Cavaliers got better
While Detroit maintained the status quo, the Cavs were much more active. Cleveland is obviously a team still keeping its eye on a playoff berth and by trading for Spencer Hawes, the Cavs made a playoff seed more likely. Currently, the Cavs are one-half game behind the Pistons and this move means they are likely to vault in front of Detroit. That would move the Pistons from the 10th spot to the ninth spot.
6. Other teams got better, too
The Kings (fourth worst record) traded for Rudy Gay, who should return eventually from his Achilles injury. And the trade of Marcus Thornton to the Nets for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans might make sense for both teams -- it certainly won't make either appreciably worse. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets should be able to stop their hemorrhaging of games by trading for an actual point guard -- Aaron Brooks -- and were able to flip the banished Andre Miller into Jan Vesely. The Bobcats were able to fortify their position by getting a steady reserve point guard and a legitimate 3-point threat in Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal, respectively.
7. The Pistons have been horrible while playing an easy schedule
The Detroit Pistons are 10 games under .500. In fact, they are nearly as close to having the sixth worst record in the NBA than they are to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. And they did all of this while playing a remarkably easy schedule. And if you're rooting for the Pistons to lose then you'll be encouraged to know that things are going to get a whole lot tougher. Speaking of which ...
8. The schedule looks good ... if you want Detroit to lose
Of the nine teams below Detroit in the standings, eight have easier schedules than Detroit going forward. Detroit, meanwhile has 16 of its last 25 games on the road and 11 games against the West with seven of those on the road. There is a particularly tough stretch coming up. Look at the Pistons next 14 games -- Atlanta, Dallas, Golden State, at San Antonio, at Houston, New York, Chicago, Minnesota, at Boston, Sacramento, at Toronto, Indiana, at Denver, at Phoenix, at Los Angeles, at Utah. By the time the team gets out of that vortex the team might have lost 10 to 12 of those games. They'd be in a position where the team could be checked out, and the team might even be in the mood to finally play the young guys like Peyton Siva, Tony Mitchell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
9. John Loyer looks an awful lot like Maurice Cheeks
Despite what Tom Gores might have said about Cheeks being fired because he wasn't maximizing the talents on this team, there has been little to no indication that Loyer is any sort of improvement. The rotation remains short, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings continue to lead the team in shot attempts, the defense remains a mess. It's early and it is hard to make changes on the fly, but then again ... it's hard to make changes on the fly. This team is what it is. Pretty damn bad.
10. The team still has Andre Drummond
I saw a lot of despair on Twitter and in comments because this team is stuck with bad players on bad contracts. That's true. But it also has the one thing every team dreams of having -- a budding superstar. All those fans complaining because the Pistons never truly "tanked" need to understand why teams tank in the first place. It's to get a player like Andre Drummond. Detroit already has him, it just happened to nab him with the ninth pick in the draft. And with a superstar all you need is the right team in place to put pieces around him. It's not easy, of course (just ask Cleveland or Minnesota about that one), but the most important step is complete. Now every move needs to be about finding a GM, a head coach and an executive staff that can build a championship team around Drummond. Every move will be made with that in mind. Let's get to work.