I know. It seemed like crazy talk at the time.
But they had also had a favorable upcoming schedule and had just released one of the most toxic players in recent NBA history, Josh Smith.
In just four games the Pistons have jumped from 14th in the Eastern conference into a tie with the Charlotte Hornets for 11th. And they're still gaining. With a loss from the 11 seed Orlando Magic, the Pistons are only 2 games behind them.
The Miami Heat currently sit in the 8 spot for the conference, only 4.5 games ahead of the Pistons.
But most importantly is that the Pistons are playing the very best basketball in the league over the past week and a half. And let's not mince words. It's because they waived Josh Smith.
The Pistons are averaging a win margin of 18 points per game since December 22, best in the league over that stretch by 8 points per game. Prior to that, their average was losing by 6.7 per game. They've gone from shooting 41 percent field goal shooting to 49 percent, and making 7.7 three pointers per game to 13.5 per game.
They're also tied with the Portland Trailblazers and Dallas Mavericks for the league's longest winning streak.
The turnaround isn't a coincidence. But Josh Smith is the team's history. Let's look to the future.
A quick winning streak doesn't mean much if it isn't sustained, and the Pistons schedule gets much more challenging in the near future.
The Pistons run the gauntlet hosting the Sacramento Kings tomorrow, then facing playoff contenders in the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, and New Orleans Pelicans. They'll need to win at least a few of these to keep the Kool-Aid fresh.
Still, the Boston Celtics are currently in the 9 spot in the East at 11-19. And the difference between 9-23 and 11-19 feels far less overwhelming than what it was a week and a half ago when the two teams were 5-23 and 10-15.
Wins and losses are going to come. But continuing to play good basketball will keep this team competitive this season, especially in a conference when good basketball is a scarcity. The 8 seed in the Eastern Conference is currently on pace to win 34 games after all.
It may still wind up being that 5-23 was too much to overcome. But for the Pistons to surpass the current playoff pace, they'd only have to go 26-24 from here out.
And the more they win, the easier those numbers look.
The latter parts of last season were dedicated to scoreboard watching, but due to lottery positioning. This year it's for moving the other direction. Tonight Pistons have a chance to take sole possession of the 10th spot tonight as the Hornets play the Magic. They can also gain some ground on Boston as they head to Chicago.
The Pistons are back at it tomorrow when they host DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings in an earlier game at 6 p.m.