The Detroit Pistons have been afraid to rebuild for 11 years.
They’ve spent that entire time trying — poorly, most times — to field a competitive basketball team. It’s what the franchise has done for the better part of 30 years, in fact. But, as we all know, it hasn’t worked.
With Blake Griffin out for the year and the current season clearly circling the drain, and a handful of seemingly moveable players, they finally have a chance to do what’s been needed for years.
They can finally push the reset button.
That means trading Andre Drummond. It means moving Derrick Rose. It means giving Langston Galloway and Markieff Morris, clearly lesser talents but still valuable role players, a chance to go help teams that matter.
It means they must be aggressive sellers this week.
The NBA Trade Deadline is Thursday, and the Pistons should come out of it a shell of themselves.
Start with the man in the middle, Drummond.
He’s expected to opt out of his deal this summer, and that would likely be the end of his up-and-down tenure in Detroit. The market isn’t expected to be lining up to offer him max money, but he should be able to land a deal with a franchise that he feels he can thrive with on (and off) the court.
But there’s also the, say, 5% chance that he doesn’t find that deal. The interest may not be there, which may result in him opting into the final year of his deal.
That would be b-a-d.
It puts the Pistons, who are reportedly struggling to trade him now because he can walk this summer, in the EXACT same position next season.
We’ve seen Detroit’s ceiling with Drummond. If they rebuild, he’ll put up his big numbers but he won’t help usher them into a new era. It’ll be a do-over of the Drummond era, which has been incredibly underwhelming from a team-success perspective.
Is that his fault? Not totally. But it’s time to move on here.
Listen, I’ll start with this: Watching Derrick Rose morph back into a sorta-star-caliber point guard this season has been incredibly fun. He’s an enjoyable player to have on this team from an on-the-court perspective, and they’re clearly a better team with him with the ball in his hands.
That doesn’t mean they should keep him.
The Detroit Free Press reported recently that the team wants a lottery-caliber pick for Rose. That won’t happen. The teams that NEED him aren’t ones picking in the lottery. They’re the Lakers and Sixers of the world, teams that feel Rose would push them over the top.
Rose and Pistons executive Arn Tellem have a deep-rooted relationship dating back to Rose’s early playing days, and that matters here. It’s likely why Rose is in Detroit in the first place. But to not try hard to trade Rose with his value at the highest it will ever be is just… so bad.
It’s the Pistons in a nutshell. They need to move Rose this week. He tweaked his groin on Sunday against the Nuggets and, at 31-year-old, he’s going to get hurt again and, this isn’t a bold take, but he’ll never play this well again in his career.
Father time ain’t going to allow it. It was a fun half season but make the move while Rose’s playing like a stud.
Langston Galloway/Markieff Morris
I’ll clump these two together because, lost in this mess of a season, these two have useful veteran role players.
Galloway can help any team with his shooting, Morris can provide a boost with his shooting and physicality. This is simple: Grab a few second round picks and let guys like Christian Wood, Sekou Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk, Bruce Brown and Louis King soak up all of that playing time.
This front office has shown that, unlike Stan Van Gundy, they can draft. Adding second round picks gives you more chances at prospects like Bruce Brown or gives you ammo to move into the first round.
Now, you’re probably wondering what’s next.
The Pistons will be bad, incredibly bad. They’ll play hard. The young guys will get all of the chances they can handle. It’s going to suck to watch, and the losing is going to be even worse for Dwane Casey and the team, but it’s the best way for them to land an elite talent in this draft.
If you can sink low enough this year and bring in a guy like Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, you add another potential blue-chip prospect to Doumbouya. That’s important because, really, the ceiling for guys like Svi, Brown and Wood are key bench players on a legit playoff team.
Those guys are all showing us that they’re something – but the Pistons need more than glimpses of something. They need the type of talent that can be THE guy.
Maybe that’s Sekou? Hell, maybe it’s Luke Kennard, the forgotten man. But the point is that they need more, period.
The next face of the Detroit Pistons isn’t Drummond. It’s not Rose.
Finding that guy starts with officially turning the page on the current era this week.