The Detroit Pistons, who’s December victory against the Miami Heat was once raised as a false flag of organizational hope, seem to be proving that triumph was more faulty by the minute with a series of losses and additional dysfunction.
Unsurprisingly, the Pistons fell apart in the second half Monday night in Miami, en-route to a messy, turnover-filled 102-96 loss which showed there was little reason to garner hope about any consistency developing with the direction of the franchise. With the loss, the Pistons once again failed to put together an elongated winning streak, and remained one game behind for the eighth spot on in the Eastern Conference.
Worse, before the game, the hits kept on coming in the press. Sam Amick of USA Today penned an article on Monday afternoon where Rodney Stuckey said the team “wasn’t on the same page.” Prior to that, owner Tom Gores said he believed that “we haven’t done the best job making sure (the team) is working at 100%.” The comment was supposedly aimed all levels of the organization, but Maurice Cheeks must have he was the intended target, as he issued a personalized “I got to do a better job” reply immediatly after.
It’s only early February. The team is disorganized on the court, losses have piled up as a result and now, the shots are rolling in off the court, as well. Let the next soap opera begin. Gores spent the money to upgrade the roster, put his faith in Joe Dumars to navigate personnel and Cheeks to lead, invested the time in advertising and touting his reshaped team and now, has paltry results to show. It has to be frustrating.
For the fans, it’s a more disappointing situation. They were told to beleive in a new product. They were told the personnel moves would work out, and they were told Cheeks was the right man to lead the team with Dumars making the moves. In some cases, the meltdown of this team feels worse than any years past. This isn’t a coach mutiny, nor is it a team completely giving up. It’s simply a group that isn’t prepared for success that should be getting much better results with more talent on the roster. The Pistons should be hanging around or above the .500 mark. Instead, a player is admitting his team isn’t on the same page, the coach is saying he has to do a better job and the owner is expressing frustration at the way everything has been run.
Now, with the season half finished, how could anyone possibly feel confident that Detroit will scrape together enough wins to get into the playoffs? The Eastern Conference is terrible and the Pistons very well could make a run thanks mostly to the incompetence of others, but forget about doing anything if they get there. Cheeks’ coaching has been horrible in stretches. The same usual midseason motions should be grounds for trade moves and perhaps a significant organizational shakeup at the conclusion of the season from ownership.
There wasn’t supposed to be this much drama this year. Instead, February of 2014 is suddenly starting to feel like February of 2010 or February of 2012. The struggles on the court have been underway for a while, and the squabbles off the court look to be just beginning.
As usual, things promise to get even more entertaining in Auburn Hills the rest of this winter for all the wrong reasons in the weeks and months ahead.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax