Truth be told, I didn’t even get the chance to watch the Pistons get blown out by the Pacers. Instead, and looking back now thankfully so, was at a family dinner for most the evening. I got home, checked the final score, and let out a sigh that was so shameful and so buried in my soul that even my dog tilted his head and looked at me concerned. Opening that NBA app and seeing that the Pistons got completely destroyed felt like when I actually studied for a test in school — a true rarity — and still got a C. Cue the whiskey.
This morning the #StartWriting Sultan of Swag AKA Detroit News beat writer Rod Beard hit us with the update.
And just like all of yours, my eyes rolled out the door. As Rod correctly points out in this article, we as fans are just numb to stuff like this now. We’ve gone through 7 head coaches in 10 years, one of which caused a locker room mutiny. We’ve gone through “big” free agent signings of Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Josh Smith, and Brandon Jennings— none of these players lasted in the league after Detroit, we literally are a career killer. And through all this, perhaps the worst part of it all for us as fans, we’ve never even had a product that was entertaining or hopeful to watch. And the fact is that we still don’t.
Sure, Blake Griffin is a superstar, and the first sure-fire All Star lock the Pistons have seen since Goin to Work days. It’s been a subtle revelation as a fan to watch a player you can confidently rely on to go get a bucket on the offensive end. There have been other bright spots: Langston Galloway’s been streaky yet enjoyable, Bruce Brown’s defense is encouraging, Zaza Pachulia and Jose Calderon have brought a veteran steadiness that comforts me in ways I didn’t know I needed. But the fact that I just had to write that last sentence really says it all about the 2018 Pistons.
So instead, I’ll write what everyone on here already knows. This all keeps coming back to two players: Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. When I first saw this team-meeting story it cemented this fact. Despite their bright spots in the short term, it’s not in the Pistons best interest to keep these players on the roster a day longer. I’m not even writing that from a numbers standpoint, this is purely from a team chemistry and franchise big-picture point of view. Reggie Jackson has taken his change in role offensively quite well, and been a complete professional about it all. Andre Drummond is having a career year so far statistically and should also be in the All-Star conversation. But from a chemistry standpoint, I think the franchise needs to move on.
I’m not jumping on the team Doomsday “Blow It All Up” Bandwagon, but the transition towards a cleaner slate needs to happen sooner than June 2019. I know coaching keeps preaching the playoffs as a goal, but then what. Drummond, Reggie, and Stanley Johnson for that matter, were all here when the Pistons got swept in the first round. Do they seem all the wiser?
It’s like that employee at the office who has been through too many bad situations with a boss or with clients. It wears them down and makes them jaded. They can’t bring the same enthusiasm to work because in their mind it’s always going to be another issue. The Pistons need to stop looking at how to replace exact value for these players and instead look at ways they can minimize losses - because the market is never going to be in their favor between their contracts and inconsistent play. Our hope moving forward needs to be addition by subtraction. Remember when we waived Josh Smith?
Coming out of the meeting, everyone said the right things. Casey’s apology to fans warmed Pistons Twitter hearts and Blake Griffin said it was one of the better team meetings he had been in (guy really loves to take shots at the Clippers every chance he can, and I for one am very here for it), but it’s one thing to say these things and another to actually execute. And not for one game or one week or one road trip. The thing these Pistons need more than anything is consistency, because all they’ve done the past 10 years is consistently disappoint.