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DBB on 3: A Pistons Christmas Carol

The classic story is turned on its head with a new leading man.

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an all time Christmas classic and also one of my favorites.

As a refresher, in the story Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old man and Bob Cratchit is his good hearted employee. On the night before Christmas Scrooge is told he will be met by three ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and The Ghost of Christmas Future. These visits show Scrooge the error of his ways by showing him how he was as a young man, how is is now, and how his life and the people around him’s lives will be (very bad) if he doesn’t change.

The film version that we watch every year is Scrooged. Bill Murray in the Ebenezer Scrooge role and Bobcat Goldthwait in the Bob Cratchit role.

It was as we were watching it again that I came upon the idea of doing a version for the Detroit Pistons, featuring owner Tom Gores in the role of Scrooge. Not to say that he’s exactly miserly but he definitely seems to be in need of a visit from these three ghosts. Our writers here are going to provide the ghosts. Enjoy!

1. Pretend you are the Ghost of Christmas Past. Take Tom Gores to a moment in the past that shows how the team got in its current state.

Lazarus Jackson: I’d take Gores to the 2016 offseason, where the Pistons used the biggest cap spike in a generation to add... Ish Smith, Jon Leuer, and Boban Marjanović. On top of that, they drafted Henry Ellenson to... duplicate Leuer’s skillset? That’s how you fail to build on a 44-win playoff team.

Steve Hinson: Tom, your relationship with Andre Drummond began in a reasonably healthy way. Back in 2015 you assured the big man that he was viewed as a max contract player, which gave Drummond the confidence to play out his rookie contract knowing the payday would be there. But the comments were a little eyebrow raising: ”He’s not only a great player, he’s a great person ... I have a connection with these players. I made a decision a long time ago to be personal with the players. I’m not afraid of that.” Especially in light of what was to come. It was reported that you killed two Drummond trades during the Stan Van Gundy era, a report that you disputed. But about Drummond’s role with the team alongside Blake Griffin? You said, “They’re our core, for sure.” SVG was fired the next offseason, and it sure looks like you fired him because he wanted to trade your best buddy.

This summer, when it came to talking about re-signing Drummond you said, “We know how dedicated we are to each other. I’ve said it many times: He’s very underrated in a lot of ways for what he does, and culturally he’s been so good for this team, just in terms of his attitude, and just watching him really grow up. I met him when he was 18.” It’s become such a given that you have a personal interest in Drummond that when Adrian Wojnarowski talks about Andre Drummond, it’s not as “Pistons center” but as “a Tom Gores Favorite.” It’s gotten to the point where it’s simply embarrassing, you falling over yourself interrupting a post-game interview to get a hug from Drummond last season.

Your personal feelings about this player is the biggest reason for the team’s failure. You’ve become the trademark bad owner: a meddler. Perhaps it’d be better if you were one of those owners who meddled because of money. But your reason for meddling is just sad. A rather pathetic hope that this guy is going to be your friend.

Justin Lambregtse: A lot of people are going to go with the Blake Griffin trade most likely. However, I am going to go with taking Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker. In general, the draft is a crapshoot and you can overanalyze every pick and see all the players that went after that pick you could have had. But in this instance there are reports that have come out that say the Pistons were down to Devin Booker or Stanley Johnson with their pick. Stanley Johnson is likely on his way out of the league while Booker is a budding star for the Phoenix Suns. The Pistons could have had a Michigander to build their team around.

Ben Gulker: Faced with the prospect of overpaying Tobias Harris and locking into an underwhelming core of Harris, Reggie Jackson, and Andre Drummond, Tom Gores went all in on aging and often-injured superstar Blake Griffin. The foreseeable risk of acquiring an old, injury-prone player has not paid off. Griffin has not recovered from a persistent knee injury and is having the worst season of his career by far. At nearly 31 years old, it’s not clear what a fully healthy Griffin remains capable of. In the season he turns 33, the Pistons will owe Griffin just shy of $40,000,000, or roughly 32% of the projected salary cap.

2. Pretend you are the Ghost of Christmas Present. Take Tom Gores to a moment in the present that shows where the current team is now.

Lazarus Jackson: Whenever moment the Pistons learned that Blake Griffin tore his meniscus, but still permitted him to play two playoff games on it. This was clearly the wrong decision - the Pistons didn’t stand a chance in that playoff series with or without Blake, and getting and keeping him healthy should’ve been this franchise’s #1 priority. Their inability to do so is currently costing them dearly.

Steve Hinson: You pegged your core as Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Drummond. The trio is making nearly $80 million. Once again, the team is bad. Once again, the supporting cast is inadequate. It’s filled with injury prone players or guys without enough talent. Once again, you’ll probably blame the supporting cast and think the core is good enough to compete. But when your core is so deeply flawed and so obviously inadequate, your supporting cast will never be good enough to make up for their deficiencies.

Justin Lambregtse: The latest loss to the Chicago Bulls. This team isn’t good and their record against the Bulls, Hornets, and Wizards shows that. They haven’t won’t a game against those three teams who are some of the worst teams in the league. The only reason why their records aren’t worse is because the Pistons cannot beat them.

Ben Gulker: Take your pick of nearly any game in which Blake Griffin has been (wrongly) cleared to play when he is obviously nowhere close to healthy. It’s difficult to overstate how much damage rushing Griffin back to a playoff series the team had no chance of winning has had. The shortsightedness of risking Griffin’s long-term health for the mere *chance* of a playoff win is staggering. Not only has Griffin struggled to contribute this season, it’s difficult to see how the Pistons can move on from Griffin (and his terrible contract) in order to rebuild before 2022.

3. Pretend you are the Ghost of Christmas Future. Take Tom Gores to a moment in the future that shows a happy functional team and what it took to get there.

Lazarus Jackson: In 2023, when this team has maybe possibly started to turn things around, I think that only two guys from the current team are still here: Bruce Brown Jr., and Sekou Doumbouya. I would tell Tom not to overvalue anyone else - the rest of the guys on this roster are either replaceable or too costly.

Steve Hinson: The last time you hired a front office that knew the game, had a vision, and the freedom to implement it, they turned the team from 29 to 44 wins in two years. Then you started meddling. You learn from your past and let the Mr. Smithers to your Mr. Burns walk, hire a front office leader with talent, and let that person do his or her job. Whether that means blowing the roster up, trading your bestie, or whatever else, they make the basketball decisions. You sign the checks, drink your booze, and throw your t-shirts. Everyone will be much happier that way and the Pistons will finally have a shot at being a relevant franchise.

Justin Lambregtse: Selling off the team and going all-in on a rebuild this year and next year. Trade everybody that you can and play the young guys the rest of the year. Try to earn as high of a pick as you can this year and do the same thing next year. Those high lottery picks combined with the current young guys developing like Sekou, Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Svi, Jordan Bone, etc. will lead to a brighter future for the team.

Ben Gulker: The Pistons have been “reloading” since they traded Chauncey Billups in 2008, but they’ve mostly reloaded with blanks. The only solution at this point is to learn from our own history instead of repeating past mistakes. Rebuild, for real this time. The long-term plan should de-prioritize winning in the short-term, account for waiting out Griffin’s contract, and focus on acquiring as many assets that come to fruition in the summers of 2022 and 2023 as possible. And yeah, that could mean another half decade until the Pistons are anything close to relevant again.

Is that a t shirt or a lump of coal?


So there are four ghost stories especially written for our man TG. Please play along at home if you’d like in the comments section below!

1.Pretend you are the Ghost of Christmas Past. Take Tom Gores to a moment in the past that shows how the team got in its current state.

2. Pretend you are the Ghost of Christmas Present. Take Tom Gores to a moment in the present that shows where the current team is now.

3. Pretend you are the Ghost of Christmas Future. Take Tom Gores to a moment in the future that shows a happy functional team and what it took to get there.