Why, you ask? Because Dumars literally had no other choice. If he had sat on his hands and refused to improve his Pistons in any way further, the same fans and pundits would rake him over the coals for inactivity, especially if the team looked as pathetic as they have in the past on the court. Of course, those people certainly won’t like the addition of Jennings either, a streaky shooter who, like Josh Smith, has been accused of taking too many ill-advised three pointers and jump shots while being a confounding personality.
That’s not the point, though. The point is, Brandon Knight wasn’t going to be the big game guard capable of playing the starring, leading role, and there was no place for throw ins like Khris Middleton or Slava Kravtsov, no matter how high their respective ceilings may look from the outside. By adding Jennings without dealing an expiring contract, Detroit has certainly injected their team with a new level of excitement and watchability heading towards a vital 2013 season for the franchise.
So what that Jennings was a loudmouth who foolishly guaranteed his hapless Milwaukee Bucks would upset the Miami Heat in the first round of this year’s playoffs. Isn’t that just the type of confident, edgy player Detroit has needed? Nobody on the roster recently has said anything of note, much less issue a challenge to a group of entitled stars. Detroit’s roster, by the admission of Dumars and company, has been far too nice lately. In an association like the NBA, nice teams finish last. Or, consistently in 10th to 13th place.
Jennings, 23, already has a higher ceiling than Knight, who’s only two years his junior at 21, and that’s what Dumars is banking on in this trade. The key number in this trade isn’t Jennings’ mediocre shooting percentages, but rather, 10. That was the amount of 30 point games Jennings had in the 2012-13 season, compared to only 3 from Knight. The Bucks, like the Pistons, will likely be waiting for Knight to come into his own as a dominating scorer. Jennings’ propensity to have explosive games regularly makes him an intriguing piece to pair with Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Smith, who with youth on their side, might evolve into the league’s first “big four” type talent collection.
That group of three, now with Jennings in the fold, certainly warrants more attention than the pathetic 2009-2012 Pistons, with such exciting talents as Ben Gordon, aged Richard Hamilton, fading Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey taking up space. This move wasn’t just about setting up a brighter future for the Pistons; it was also done with designs of creating positive buzz and jolting more summer electrodes into a franchise which was on life support. Don’t name Dumars executive of the year yet, but give him credit for realizing something had to be done and finally taking proper action to add excitement.
As a result, the 2013 Pistons will be very different. Will they be exciting or frustrating? On July 30, nobody knows. Count on them to be more relevant, though, which is a step forward from the past four years.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax