Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pistons' Rapid Fall from Grace is Stunning

It's been a long time since the Pistons have provided this much fodder for the ink-stained wretches and bottom feeding bloggers around town.

Being a card-carrying member of both of those groups, I can attest to this from experience.

Another one of our four children in Detroit has gone astray.

The Lions have been, for decades, the one kid that just can't seem to get it together. He's the one who is most likely to ask for money or call you in the middle of the night from jail---things of that nature.

Now the Pistons have fallen off the wagon.

They dropped yet another game last night---a fairly spirited try (for a change) but the same old result. The Cleveland Cavaliers beat them, 113-101. It wasn't all that long ago when the Pistons kept the Cavs at arm's length in the Central Division. These days, the Cavs all but toy with them before putting the Pistons out of their misery.

I've written it before: the Pistons are a fraud of a team that is bereft of a plan, sans an identity. They're a franchise that was once a model for others in the NBA. Today they're a cautionary tale.

President Joe Dumars took a wrong turn somewhere and now is in desperate need of a GPS system to get himself back on the right path.

Half the time the Pistons don't compete, because they can't. The other half, they don't compete because they care not to.

This bunch has taken the Pistons name, which used to stand for excellence and hard work and elitism, and made it into a league wide joke. It's hard to say if league observers look at the Pistons with pity or with smirks.

This is a great time to be a Pistons hater, whether you are an old-school protester from the Bad Boys days or a Johnny-come-lately since 2004. It's reminiscent of how it was in Detroit when the Celtics of the 1980s got old and decrepit and stumbled through the league, a shadow of their former selves. We relished that unabashedly.

Dumars has dug himself a hole of horrific proportions.

How are those free agent signings from last summer looking?

How's his wallet, going forward? Lighter than a feather.

Dumars has no vision anymore. He's become Mr. Magoo, and no one is more of a shadow of himself than Joe D. He's the Incredibly Shrinking GM.

The Pistons still try to use "Going to work" as a marketing hook and it's laughable. This team only goes to work for coach John Kuester on occasion; the rest of the time it's out to lunch.

It's sad what's happened to this team, but that sadness pales in comparison to the future's outlook, which is chillingly bleak.

Forget free agency; even if Dumars finds some dough, his team isn't anywhere near any star player's short list of possible destinations. Dumars would have to pull off a snow job of unprecedented proportions to con any player worth his salt to become a Piston for the next four or five years.

That leaves the draft.

The Pistons are lottery-bound, and if you pull for this team, you'd better gather as many rabbit's feet and horseshoes as you can find. Prayer and meditation wouldn't hurt, either.

The Pistons have a bunch of crooked shooting small guys and a center who couldn't score 20 points unless you gave him a week to do it. They have no leapers, few athletes, and matador defenders.

Add to that financial constraints and a history of suspect drafting, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I'm sorry to ruin your St. Patty's Day with such negativity, but like comedian Jeffrey Ross said in a recent celebrity roast: "These aren't jokes, these are facts!"

The Pistons' best bet at this point is to go young and cheap, and hope that some of the kids they have and will draft, pan out.

There are some bright spots: Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye, Will Bynum, and Rodney Stuckey. None of them make an obnoxious amount of money, and all of them have encouraging upsides. Add a lottery pick (preferably a scoring big man) and Dumars might be able to save some face and get the Pistons back to respectability in a couple years.

It's disgusting to watch the Pistons play on most nights. They're having trouble staying in games before halftime. The Celtics brutalized them on Monday night with nary a whimper from the boys in red, white, and blue.

The Pistons' situation isn't hopeless, but it's close.

All this, and Karen Davidson has to find a sucker to buy them, too.

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