Thursday, June 21, 2007

Will the Pistons remain a force? Let's just say I wouldn't be willing to bet on it

As confident as I was about the Pistons remaining a eastern conference power after the draft lottery and before the start of the Cavs series, the less confident I become the more off season rumors I hear.

Kobe Bryant wants to be traded to the Bulls. You need a superstar to win in the NBA. Kobe fits the bill.

For the first time, the Kevin Garnett trade rumors have merit, the hottest rumor being a trade to the Celtics. As long as they don't have to give up Paul Pierce, the Celtics become a eastern conference force. Their having 2 superstars would trump the rest of the east. No other east team would be so top heavy.

The Bucks supposedly are preparing to deliver several Brinks trucks full of loot to Chauncey Billups, very possibly giving Billups a near max offer the Pistons won't be willing to match. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if the Pistons lose Billups, they might as well start the rebuilding process. As the roster currently stands, Flip Murray would be your starting point guard if Billups leaves. Yeah, that's going to work...

The Hawks need a point guard, and all the mocks have Acie Law, who would be an absolutely perfect fit, and would fill a long time need for the Pistons (Scorer off the bench, let alone a heir apparent at PG), being taken by Atlanta just before the Pistons pick. That would hurt, as I want Acie Law as a Piston. The Pistons need Acie Law. Re-read the paragraph above this one as to why.

Rodney Stuckey is claiming that the Pistons have promised to draft him at the 15th overall pick. Sure, Stuckey has a NBA body. But he's also an early entry, having played playing 2 seasons at Eastern Washington. It bears repeating...EASTERN WASHINGTON? Does that sound like someone who's ready to step into the rotation? Best case scenario is that Stuckey is ready in a couple of years. Worst case? He's the next Rodney White. Either way, he's not the immediate help you want from that high in the draft.

Joe Dumars says no "Fire sale" is imminent, thus doesn't anticipate making big changes, and Flip "I lost to MIKE BROWN" Saunders will return as head coach for another season. If Billups leaves, maybe the fire sale does start. As for Flip Saunders, this says it all. He lost to a one man team coached by Mr. Potato Head.

The Pistons front office loves Amir Johnson, Dumars going so far to call re-signing him behind only retaining Billups as his main off season priority. But does the coaching staff love Amir? Not nearly so much, if you believe Chris McCosky. Who's right? I'm not sure I trust the evaluation skills of either side, so your guess is as good as mine. From what little we saw of Johnson, he definitely is athletic enough. But does the rest of his game match that athleticism? Again, your guess is as good as mine. The seeming split between the front office and coaching staff is concerning, to say the very least.

I know that odds are not all of these rumors will come to fruition, but each and every one of them would hurt the Pistons in the long run. Good Lord, if all of the above comes to fruition, it's going to be one hellish off season for the Pistons. I may want to bring out TWFE infamous Tigers panic button.

As things stand know, I honestly can't determine if the Pistons will again make a long playoff run, or struggle to get out of the first round. (They will make the playoffs, is is the east, after all) But none of the above sound encouraging to the Pistons' 2007-08 chances. How the next month plays out will tell us plenty.

This is going to be the most fascinating NBA off season in memory, possibly for all the wrong reasons when it comes to the Pistons.

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