Despite all the rumors flying around throughout the season, the trade deadline came and passed without the Detroit Pistons making a move. The team was reportedly heavily shopping Josh Smith in the last hours of the NBA’s trade period; however, no deal was reached and the team will play through the remainder of the year with the same roster that is 22-32 and currently sitting in ninth place in the East.
While Detroit decided to stick with their somewhat dysfunctional roster, moves by other teams have the possibility to affect Detroit. Charlotte added Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal at the expense of Ramon Sessions. Sessions may be the best player involved in this trade, but two effective players are usually better than one. Both Neal and Ridnour represent an increase in three-point shooting skill which the Bobcats desperately need. Ridnour should also be able to step in and fill the backup point guard void left by Sessions.
Charlotte’s motivation was to improve their positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but Cleveland made a move in an attempt to climb above Detroit and enter into the playoff picture. The Cavaliers gave up two second round picks, Earl Clark and Henry Sims for Spencer Hawes. Hawes’ play has been declining since his fast start for Philadelphia this season, but he is still a valuable player that can boost the Cavaliers rotation. His ability to space the floor will especially be welcome in Cleveland.
These are the two moves with the potential to significantly affect Detroit. It is troubling to see the two teams battling with the Pistons for position in the last spots of the Eastern Conference playoffs get better while Detroit did nothing. The Pistons’ ultimate fear is landing outside of both the playoffs and the NBA’s bottom-eight. By doing nothing at the deadline, they’ve increased the likelihood of this fear becoming reality.
There is nothing to suggest that Detroit will miraculously solve their various issues in house this season. That being said, the chances of holding off Cleveland and catching Charlotte or Atlanta are very slim.
It is beginning to seem very likely that Detroit will be forced to live its nightmare: watching Charlotte play in the first round of the playoffs and also watching them make the Pistons’ first-round selection. When the Bobcats are out maneuvering you, you have issues.
Though it does seem problematic, not making a move is not the end of the world and there are various reasons the team may have stood pat. It is possible (and likely) that owner Tom Gores no longer truly trusts GM Joe Dumars and was more comfortable waiting until the summer when he can bring in a new GM before making any major moves.
Detroit still holds all the power in regard to Greg Monroe as he enters restricted free agency this summer. Teams may look to poach the young big with a max offer sheet, but Detroit can choose to match any offer for Monroe.
It stands to reason that as time goes on, and dollars slowly drip off his contract, that Josh Smith will become more moveable as well.
The deadline was supposed to provide us with a better picture of the Pistons’ future plans, or at least where their focus lies for the second half of the season. Instead, we are still left to ponder: what is the plan in the Detroit?