Trans. Sep 30 9:06 ET (Sep 30 9:06 ET ) It’s when you know you’re right, even though you want to be left. When you want to be wrong, because being wrong could bring about so many wonderful things. The 2013-14 Detroit Pistons were never going to work out. Josh Smith was never going to cut it as a small forward, Brandon Jennings was never going to kick it with that contract on a team like this, Maurice Cheeks was never going to be the sort of voice or bring the sort of vision that would put it all together. We knew this in July and August, and it played out from October until April. We were right, about this team’s potential to fail, even if we wanted to see something pretty cool out of this cadre of seemingly mismatched players. The Pistons lost that “seemingly” qualifier early in the season, incumbent big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were lost in the miasma almost immediately, and Cheeks seemed helpless as the team lost five of its first seven games. Even in an Eastern Conference that was universally hailed for its awful depth beyond the top two seeds, the Pistons failed to make a dent, and Cheeks was fired after serving barely half of the first year of a three-year contract he signed with the team. Most importantly, after nearly 29-year run with the organization, a 14-year placement in the front office and 13-year stint as general manager, Joe Dumars was let go following the 2013-14 season. His latest attempts at turning the corner – after years of working through coaches, lottery picks, free agents and bum trades – failed miserably. He was ahead of the game when he started , and well behind it when he left. He was the prized asset of a franchise that struck deep in the NBA playoffs for half a decade, and its biggest millstone in the six years that followed that run. In steps another hoped-for savior in the form of Stan Van Gundy. The former Heat and Magic coach won’t act as the outright general manager, the much-respected Jeff Bower will handle that nasty work, but SVG will have the final say in all personnel decisions, while running the day to day operations from the practice court and the sidelines. He’ll coach things, and he’ll settle things; a needed presence for a team that is as unsettled as ever. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings still remain, as nobody is lining up to deal for either of those players even as they work in their mid-to-late 20s. Greg Monroe is back for another season after failing to come to terms with the Pistons on a contract extension, working for the qualifying offer and likely counting the days until July. Andre Drummond is just as likely to receive a massive contract extension during the 2015 offseason, just as Monroe flees elsewhere. The litany of Dumars-drafted wing help – Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the departed Brandon Knight – has yet to make much of an impact. This is why 2014-15 has to be a turnaround year. An attempt to drive up Smith and Jennings’ trade value. A chance to see what can be done with Caldwell-Pope (the team’s 2014 lottery pick was dealt to Charlotte by Dumars in a cash-saving maneuver, used to unload the final year of Ben Gordon’s contract). A move to turn Drummond into a franchise player. A holding pattern pitched to potentially make the playoffs under steeled leadership while keeping long term options open. In short, more a recovery effort than a rebuilding project. These Pistons have a long road ahead of them, and it’s going to take Stan Van Gundy quite a while to find his footing on Joe Dumars’ stretch of salted soil.
The Scoop:After an offseason of trade rumors and reports of Monroe not liking certain players, Monroe lashed out a bit on Monday. "It wasn't rumors, it was all lies," he said. "Because I know what really went on, I'm not worried about it. I know the truth. At the end of the day, I'm focused on getting ready for the season. All that stuff is behind me. I could [not] really care less." Playing on a one-year contract before he hits unrestricted free agency, Monroe is a solid mid-round draft target for fantasy owners.
The Scoop:This is strong praise from Van Gundy and it is definitely good news for Detroit fans. Monroe had some trouble with the law this summer but a strong showing at training camp will go a long way in terms of his value. He is playing for a new contract so all signs point to him having a strong season. He is expected to return for game 3 of the season and we would target him in the mid-late rounds of standard drafts.
The Scoop:It would be a big surprise for him to return. Monroe will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and he can also choose to be traded to any team he wants, assuming the Pistons can come to terms on a deal. Monroe is likely going to lose some of his playing time, so he's more of a mid-to-late round target this season.