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Trade deadline will determine whether Ed Stefanski, Tom Gores understand the team they are running

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The issues with this team are clear, but does the franchise leadership see them?

Detroit Pistons Introduce Dwane Casey Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With the NBA trade deadline coming Thursday, February 7 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time, the Pistons are at least part of trade rumor rumbles.

They’ve been at least part of the conversation for the Memphis Grizzlies parting ways with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, Reggie Bullock’s name has come up in connection to the Lakers, interest in Tim Hardaway Jr. had been mentioned before last week’s deal sent him to Dallas.

The comments coming from leadership have been somewhat conflicting. Ed Stefanski makes it sound like they’ll stand pat.

Meanwhile Tom Gores spoke with a bit more of a sense of urgency.

Well. Ok.

Yeah, they obviously have to do something. The Pistons expected to be fighting for the top half of the Eastern Conference this season and are sitting at 22-29, despite a tremendous season from Blake Griffin.

The problem is clear

But the key issue is whether Gores and Stefanski understand why they’ve been so bad. Because it’s obvious. It’s been obvious even in the early days of the season’s tailspin.

The Pistons have the 25th ranked offensive rating in the league, are 29th in true shooting percentage, and dead last in 3-point field goal percentage. Whatever moves they make, they need to address that problem.

These ideas aren’t going to do it

There’s a Mike Conley and Omer Casspi for Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer, Luke Kennard, and a pick idea floating around. That ain’t it. I like Conley, but running things back with this exact same roster construction just with less shooting and an upgrade over Jackson is not what is going to take you from being the least efficient franchise of the past decade to a properly functioning offense.

The Conley move would be following the routes that haven’t worked every year now. Incremental upgrades at individual positions hasn’t moved the needle.

And Stefanski talking about holding pat - that ain’t it either. This formula the Pistons have tried every season obviously hasn’t worked. It’s not just going to magically start working. These players aren’t all the sudden going to “get it” or “buy in” or “turn it on.” They are what they are. Their skills (and lack thereof) are pretty well defined.

And this is just scary

Perhaps it’s Tom Gores who has been particularly concerning. He pinpointed shooting as the problem, and, yes, shooting has been a problem. But the important thing is why it’s been a problem. It’s not because the team doesn’t have enough shooters. The shooters are there.

Last week a report came out that Stan Van Gundy tried to twice trade Andre Drummond only to have Gores nix the deals and that the team isn’t listening to calls for him. Yes, the amount of stock to place in those types of reports are always worth taking with some healthy skepticism. But the logic adds up.

It makes sense that after limited success of trying to build around Drummond and Dre’s performance plateauing, that SVG would be interested in moving on. And Drummond has always seemed to have a special place with Gores. Then, speaking about the deadline, Gores said, “Everybody can decide what they want but we have enough here. We do really have two All-Stars with Andre and Blake.”

You know, I just checked the All-Star roster here, and I’m only seeing one of those two names. Maybe I’m missing something.

I’ve made my thoughts on the Pistons’ need to move on from Drummond clear previously, and I’m not going to keep harping on it. There’s many roads this franchise can go to end up in the same destination and there are certainly other valid ways to build this roster than the one I’ve suggested. But if Gores has some sort of delusional perspective of the quality of player that Andre Drummond is, that’s deeply concerning.

There was quite a bit of excitement over the summer with some of the names the team brought in, particularly focusing on the analytical approach to assessment and roster building. But those guys don’t do any good if Gores refuses to listen to them. And if there’s truth to the Mitch Lawrence report, that’s already been something that’s taken place with Gores.

If Gores and Stefanski seriously think that this roster is built on a solid foundation, this franchise is in trouble. There are pieces with this roster that can work, but the fit is clearly wrong.

Time will tell

We’ll see how this trade deadline and the summer subsequently play out. Perhaps all of this hand-wringing is for naught. The public statements are concerning and I prefer to take folks at face value, but it’s possible they’re just saving face.

Most of the trade deadline talk about Detroit runs along the same lines: that they desperately need a shake up and a sense of direction. That’s absolutely true. And that direction’s outcome should focus on putting together a competent offense.

It’s understandable if they choose to wait until the summer to change their core to a more logical fit. But they should at least be making some decisions about what they want the 2019-20 roster to look like. Will Reggie Bullock be on it? Then he should be headed out. Can you get something for Stanley Johnson and Ish Smith?

Even smaller moves like this would build some credibility that this leadership does actually have a plan - or at least a better plan than cross your fingers and hope that Griffin and Drummond can do something no team has done in about 20 years, fielding an above average offense with two big men leading the team in shot attempts.

It’s been a tough decade for Pistons fans. But the thought of going through another season like this...

Let’s hope these guys get it right.