Category: Detroit Pistons

As winter drags on and spring refuses to arrive Detroit sports have fallen into quite the funk.  Usually April acts as the best time of year for all of your favorite sports teams.  The Pistons and Red Wings are usually preparing for the playoffs, Lions fans are rallying around the draft/ free agency, plus the Tigers are finally returning from their winter break.  However this year the  gloomy weather has hovered over Detroit sports and the excitement for the four teams.

The NFL lockout is settling in and the potential for no season increases with each passing day.  While the thought of no football in the fall is bad enough, this labor dispute is keeping Lions fans from its favorite time of the year, the offseason.  The NFL Draft will still occur, but the absence of free agency and lack of excitement surrounding the Lions pick has created a rare offseason of melancholy.  Usually the Lions offseason is built off false hope, but ending last year on a win streak brought added expectations to this offseason.  Compromising the NFL season is bad enough, but taking away the hype and hope of a true offseason season has even gotten Lions fans down.

Meanwhile the Pistons have been stuck in reverse all season long, losses piling up, feuding players, a lame duck coach and still no owner.   Karen Davidson appears determined to drive away any interested buyer with her ridiculous demands, for a team that is headed nowhere fast.  Not to mention the team has few players worth building around.  Rodney Stuckey has gone from a potential leader and building chip to a punk with a bad attitude who appears headed out of town.  Chemistry and team work are a thing of the past and their coach is terrible at communicating.  Fans used to live and breath Detroit basketball, and now they have become quite an after thought.  It’s impossible to predict how this will will rebound, but the future does not look bright.

The Tigers have gotten off to a poor start that has quickly tempered expectations and brought on early questions regarding the rotation.  While Verlander had a nice outing, but Penny, Porcello, and Scherzer were brutal in their first start.  Obviously there is plenty of time to turn it around, but the Tigers haven’t the early spark everyone was expecting.  Either catcher Alex Avila has forgotten how to call a game and isn’t ready to control a staff or Tigers pitchers have added hanging fastballs to their arsenal.  Certaintly it would be a nice change of pace for this team to save their best baseball for the end of the season, but falling into a deep hole early that forces this team to play catch up all year isn’t ideal.

As the Red Wings prepare for their 20th straight postseason fans are cautiously waiting to see which teams shows up.  Many years this team is the odds on favorite, but despite another stellar year they find themselves with many questions.  Can they stay healthy?  Will their lack of goalie depth come back to haunt them?  Can the Red Wings defense step up, beyond Stuart and Lidstrom?  Will all of their streaky goal scorers struggle at the same time?  Can they survive a loaded Western Conference?  Hockeytown has been spoiled by the Red Wings success, which has fans in wait and see mode to see how excited they will get about this postseason.

Needless to say Detroit and its sports teams could certainly use rays of sunshine and optimism for the present and the future.  Hopefully the Tigers pitchers can move past this poor start, and hit the reset button to their season for their home opener.  It would be refreshing if the Pistons can finally get a new owner and hopefully be lucky enough to get a lottery pick that they can build their new identity around.  It would also be nice to see the battle of the billionaires and millionaires come to an end giving the Lions the proper opportunity prepare and retool for what could be a very exciting season.  Finally, let’s hope the Red Wings can avoid trying to play ‘flip the switch’ hockey and simply bring they best from the first round.  Oh it would also be great if the sunshine and spring temperature would actually arrive as well, we’ve waited long enough.

Way to Stay Classy Pistons

The Detroit Pistons were expected to struggle this season and deal with some adversity, but I’m not sure anyone saw what has transpired coming.  Yesterday half the team ( Hamilton, Wallace, McGrady, Wilcox, Prince, and Daye and Stuckey were late) did not show up for shoot around, and while some had their reasons, it has been labeled a players protest against the coach.  None of the players who missed shoot around played last night and instead of clowning their coach they embarrassed the franchise, city and the NBA.

Matt Slocum / Associated Press

It’s no secret that majority of the players aren’t happy with the direction of the team or the coach, but what purpose is this season long display of immaturity proving?  The Pistons core of Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince have had more than their share of coaches during their time with the team, and now coach killers will be added to their franchise legacy permanently.  While Kuester clearly isn’t working out, blaming him for all of the team’s problems is moronic.  He came to the team taking over an impossible situation while the team tried to re-build on the fly and absorb the drama and uncertainty of the team being sold, all during his first two years as an NBA head coach.  Kuester will likely be let go sooner than later, but his dismissal will provide no answers and will not make this team any better.

The Pistons have been stuck in neutral, and their inability to move on from the ‘going to work’ years has been a main reason.  Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace will be gone at season’s end, hopefully Dumars can make use of Prince’s expiring deal in the offseason through a sign and trade to retain some value.  However, the Pistons must bite the bullet and buyout Richard Hamilton and the remainder of his contract.  It will be a difficult cap hit to absorb, but he has become a cancer to this team and is bringing no value on or off the court to the franchise.  Fans continue to clamor that Bill Laimbeer should be the next head coach, but as much as this team could use a stern voice, they are far more desperate for an experienced coach who will demand respect and control of the players.

This season cannot end soon enough for the Pistons, but the players (many who built this franchise up) have displayed little class and aren’t making this attempt to rebuild the team any easier.  It remains unclear who the coach, players, GM, or even the owner will be in the future, but this season has created a stain on the franchise that will take years to remove.  Struggling and missing the playoffs seemed inevitable this season, but losing credibility and respect within the league and from their fans is something to the Pistons most also rebound from.

Tonight the Detroit Free Press announced that Michigan native Tom Gores has finally reached a tentative deal with Karen Davidson to purchase the Detroit Pistons.  Although the sale must be finalized by the NBA and commissioner David Stern, it would seem highly unlikely the offer will be rejected.  Although Forbes recently reported the value of the franchise dropping to  $360 million, it appears Gores will be purchasing the Pistons, the Palace of Auburns Hills and the DTE Energy Music Theatre for $420 million.  Further details of the sale price and purchasing agreement are still not completely clear, but it would appear as though some strange events would have to take place for Gores to not be the next owner.

Although the Pistons have become some what of a dormant franchise, finally having an owner in place should re-ignite them and allow them to shift out of the neutral standing they have been stuck in since Karen Davidson took over the team.  Obviously it would have been nice to see Mike Ilitch buy the team and bring the Pistons back to Detroit, I still think the Pistons will be better off with their own owner.  Unlike Mike Ilitch, Gores has made it very clear he plans to keep the team in Auburn Hills and can hopefully provide this team with the direction and passion they deserve.  While this can’t be an ideal situation for Gores to takeover, the Pistons current situation will allow him the opportunity to re-start from scratch as this team is in the process of a lengthy re-building attempt.  If nothing else it will be very interesting to see what changes will be made, from the players, to the coaches and front office.  However, it is definitely a relief to know that the sale process is finally over.

The Detroit Pistons entered this season facing uncertainty without a true owner in place, but few thought the ramifications of not having an owner could cripple this organization.  Unfortunately the recent feud between Richard Hamilton and Coach John Kuester has the potential to sent the franchise back quite a few years.  If only the Pistons had been lucky enough for the three way trade between Denver, New Jersey and Detroit had gone through maybe none of this would have happened.  Sadly luck has not been on the Pistons side of late and since the trade fell apart the perception of the team has begun to crumble.

Not having an actual owner has help lead to this franchise spin out of control, because no one is in charge.  Once the Pistons had decided that for the best interest of the team that Hamilton no longer fit their current or future plans they should have found a way to make this transition work for everyone.  Since Hamilton’s contract is difficult enough to move it was imperative that the team found a way to make him seem as valuable as possible for a contender looking for a shooting guard to put them over the edge.  Coach Kuester’s immature approach of handling this situation between him and Hamilton has not only received criticism from the local media, but from current players (most notably Ben Gordon) and former players (Chauncey Billups).

The Pistons have been reluctant to deal Hamilton without getting value in return, but mistreating him and making him appear like a problem certainly isn’t increasing his trade value.  Dragging a player through trade talks and having him sit out games isn’t uncommon, but the team and player usually come to an understanding before this occurs.  The NBA is a player dominated league and now the Pistons have drawn attention to themselves for mistreating a former star and champion.  It’s mind boggling to consider Kuester’s approach logical, but it’s even worse that GM Joe Dumars has allowed this situation to unfold the way that it has.  Giving Kuester this kind of control would be some what understandable if he was a Hall of Fame coach who made this team tick and ran a tight ship, but he is clearly a cheap alternative while the team re-builds.

The Pistons have enough issues attracting free agents as it is, and cant afford to be burning bridges with current and future players.  It’s fair to assume this situation and time of turmoil could have been avoided had a new owner in place, but Karen Davidson seems far more concerned about money than anything else.  The inflated numbers proposed to Mike Ilitch and unrealistic demands she continues to place on other prospective buyers have left this extremely vulnerable as they struggle to rebuild.  Hopefully a new owner can take over soon and begin to clean house to avoid any further damage.  While the Pistons have some nice young players to build around, now they will have to worry about repairing their perception with players, finding a new GM, and head coach as well.

Richard Hamilton Trade Falls Through

Heading into this season GM Joe Dumars vowed to actively search for trades to improve his team.  As the ‘owner’ Karen Davidson struggled to sell the team it became obvious Dumars wouldn’t be able to make just any deal until a sale for the team was imminent.  However, Dumars stayed patient waiting for the right move to come along and was able to trade a player that seemed unmovable, as it appears the Pistons could finally have found their new owner in Tom Gores.  Tonight the Pistons were part of a three team blockbuster deal

Ned Dishman / NBAE / Getty Images

As much flack as Dumars has received over the years this trade gives him the flexibility to finally re-build the Pistons.  While it’s still hard to believe Dumars was able to find a trade partner who was willing to take on a player that clearly had no use for and who had a brutal contract.  Obviously it helped that Carmelo Anthony wanted Hamilton a part of the deal and that they both share an agent.  However you still must give credit to Dumars for finding a deal that made sense for the Pistons.  All along many assumed the Pistons would be able to trade Tayshaun Prince and his expiring contract and eat the remaining years on Hamilton’s deal.  Now Dumars can focus on trying to find a suitor for Prince, which could bring even more flexibility and their new owner.

Unfortunately last night the deal that would’ve sent Hamilton to New Jersey fell through last night.  Since New Jersey couldn’t confirm that Carmelo Anthony was truly interested in signing an extension with the team they decided it was worth the gamble.  The Nets and Nuggets will move on and likely find other deals or options to improve their rosters, however it remains to be seen if the Pistons can find another team interested in Hamilton.  The Pistons have looked better without Hamilton as he has been sitting out of games as a DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision).  However this won’t stop Dumars from doing everything he can to try to find suitors for Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.  Over the last few weeks it has become increasingly obvious, as if it wasn’t already, that the team needs to build around their youth.  It will be interesting to see what other deals Dumars can find, but having this deal fall through just made his job even tougher.

Michael Heiman/Getty Images

News has surfaced that Karen Davidson has granted Michigan native Tom Gores an exclusive 30 day agreement to finalize a deal to purchase the Detroit Pistons.  While Davidson also granted a similar opportunity to Mike Ilitch a few months ago, it is hard to imagine Gores or Davidson will not make this transaction a done deal.  All along Gores has appeared to be the next best option behind Ilitch and seems like a solid choice on paper.  He is a a Flint native, who attended Michigan State and has strong ties to Michigan.  He also appears to be far more interested in keeping the Pistons in Auburn Hills than moving them to downtown Detroit like Ilitch had in mind.  The one main reason why it would appear that Davidson and Gores may not agree on a deal is because rumors have circulated that Gores isn’t willing to pay $400 million for the franchise (valued at $480 million).  However Davidson has already let one prospective owner fall through the cracks and can’t be interested in prolonging the sale much longer.

Only time will tell how this story eventually unfolds, but it would be in the best interest for everyone for the Pistons to be sold sooner than later.  The franchise has been stuck in neutral and is desperate to finally have an owner and a direction once again.  All along I preferred Gores to buy the Pistons over Ilitch because it would give them an owner who could put all of his focus into them.  I am not discounting Ilitch as an owner, but the Pistons need a lot of help and having an owner who is also juggling two other professional teams would probably make it difficult.  Hopefully Gores can bring back the passion and winning to Deeetroit basketball.

Detroit and Spartan fans have many things to be thankful for this year:

Michigan State basketball and football can be especially thankful for their coaches.  Coach Izzo’s impact on the university rivals any person, past or present, who has ever set foot on campus.  As long as he is around it guarantee’s the basketball program is in great hands for the foreseeable future, and  this season the team is primed for another run at the Final Four.  Coach Dantonio has emerged this season as the answer the  football program has been searching for, for decades.  He has led the Spartans to one of the most special seasons in school history and has the opportunity bring home the programs first Big Ten title since 1990 this Saturday.  Both of these coaches make the future look very bright for the Spartan basketball and football programs.

After their magical run in 2006 the Tigers have struggled to find the missing pieces to bring the franchise it’s first World Series title since 1984.  Fans can be thankful for the team’s determination to put a winner on the field by opening up their pockets once again.  The team has already re-signed veterans Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta, as well as recently signing the top set up man for their bullpen, Joaquin Benoit, and the best catcher available on the market in Victor Martinez.  The team still has plenty of time and money to add other players as well, but the success of these moves will be heavily based on where this team is in the standings come October.

The Detroit Pistons are still for sale and the team seems stuck in transition as they have been unable to get back to there winning ways.  Fans can be thankful for the future, while the organization’s present standing is gloomy, once a new owner takes over the team and GM Joe Dumars finally finds a trade partners that allows this team to start from scratch.

Detroit and Spartan fans had their shares of ups and downs, but since 1994 they have been able to steadily count on the Red Wings.  The team is once again in first place and primed for another Stanley Cup run.  However fans should not take for granted how lucky they are to have Nick Lidstrom around for another year, goalie Jimmy Howard exceeding expectations from his promising rookie year, the lunch pail mentality of the team’s fourth line and the opportunity to watch the amazement that Datsyuk and Zetterberg bring to the ice every night.

Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Despite all the praise for the other teams on this holiday, the Lions own turkey day, what goes better with turkey than Lions kool-aid?  Although the team is off to another dismal start and playing the Patriots today has the potential to be another turkey day blowout, there is always hope, right?  The team has received tremendous efforts this season from stud receiver Calvin Johnson and rookie Ndamukong Suh who at least pose as solid building blocks for the future.  The Lions haven’t won on Thanksgiving since 2003, but this could be the year the Lions break their losing streak and use this win to propel themselves out of their losing ways.  Yes, in case you haven’t noticed Lions fans can be thankful for their team providing them with delusional hope.

Happy Thanksgiving Detroit and Spartan Fans

Detroit Pistons 2010-2011 Season Preview

The Detroit Pistons season is a mere two days away, and despite poor preseason previews they are poised to avenge last season’s dreadful results (27-55 record).  Heading into this season head coach John Kuester announced the team’s starting line up:

Point guard: Rodney Stuckey  Shooting guard: Richard Hamilton  Small forward: Tayshaun Prince

Power Forward: Austin Daye  Center: Ben Wallace

Bench: PG-Will Bynum, SG-Ben Gordon, PF-Jason Maxiell, SG-Tracy McGrady, PF-Greg Monroe, F-DaJuan Summers, PF-Charlie Villanueva, SG-Terrico White, and PF-Chris Wilcox

John T. Greilick / The Detroit News

Certainly not the most talented group in the NBA, but one that should put points on the board, despite having an unbalanced team.  The Pistons have no real big men on their roster and will rely heavily on guard play and their team three point shooting. The Pistons have traded in their signature defense in hopes of out scoring teams as they rebuild, with virtually the same roster that ranked 29th in scoring last season.  This team should struggle with rebounding and defense, appearing to be on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.  The one positive for the Pistons will be the opportunity to see what they have in Austin Daye, Greg Monroe, Terrico White, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey.  As well as the chance to see if Dumars can make any trades during the season.  Obviously this isn’t enough to get fans excited as the team continues to struggle to find 50 fans interested in joining their ‘power plant’ cheering section.

With all of that being said one has to continue to question what kind of job GM Joe Dumars is doing if he cannot put the pieces in place that will make this team successful.  The Pistons have won three championships and Dumars has had a major role in all three titles (two as a player, one as a GM).  However the blue print for success was the same with both of those teams, yet it appears as though Dumars is forgotten how to fix this team.  It’s no question the roster needed to be over hauled after the ‘going to work’ era ended, but the style of play and type of players that the team was built around should not have changed.  Consistently the Pistons have been at their best when they have balanced scoring and focus heavily on defense.  Both championship era of teams were built not around a star, but a team.  Dumars has failed to re-load this team and apparently has no clue how to get them back on track.

While almost every team in the NBA would prefer more talent in their front court, the Pistons enter the season as maybe the least talented.   All offseason Dumars pledged to improve this team and put them in a position where making the playoffs would be expected.  Aside from the draft he made zero moves, and watched Al Jefferson get traded to the Utah Jazz for 50 cents on the dollar.  He was unable to trade Tayshaun Prince’s expiring contract and every team in the NBA made it very clear they have no interest in Richard Hamilton’s declining skills and enormous contract.  Considering the Pistons are a small-mid range market team they must continue to build through trades, the draft, and spend wisely in free agency.  Dumars has done above average with draft picks, but has yet to land any stars.  If he continues to fail with trades and free agent signings(two big signings from two years ago start the season coming off the bench, yikes) there is no way the Pistons can continue to allow him to run the team.

After the Detroit Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for cap space, I mean Allen Iverson, they also lost their leader.  As the Pistons have struggled to find the winning formula the last two seasons they have lacked a voice as well.  As the 2010-2011 season approaches many questions remain unanswered for this team, but they have found their leader in Rodney Stuckey.  The past two months Stuckey has taken to the press to profess his confidence in his team and his focus on winning.  Although he was misquoted by Dime Magazine, (“On paper, we are the best team in the league,”) he told the Detroit Free Press‘ Vince Ellis his actual expectations for the Pistons:

Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News

“He kind of wrote it down wrong,” Stuckey said. “I told him that we were one of the best — not the best — team.  ”I know the Eastern Conference is pretty tough now, but if we all stay healthy, the sky’s the limit for this team.”

His assessment of the Pistons contention level may be off, but anything is possible in the Eastern Conference.  This team struggled with injuries and chemistry last season, so in many ways they can only improve from last season.  While it is unclear what the future holds for Stuckey this hasn’t stopped him from taking control of the team.  He has been rumored to be on the trading block for the last two seasons and he has struggled to consistently live up to his potential.  Many have questioned his ability to be a true point guard and his ability to be the face of this franchise.  However he has shown the determination and stats this preseason that he is committed to making major improvements with himself and the team.  Yesterday he reiterated his focus for this season to the Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis:

“If I’ve got to come off the bench, I’ll come off the bench.  I ain’t tripping; whatever it takes to make this team win. If they need me to come off the bench, I’ll do it.”

The Pistons has been placed with distractions of an impending sale, trade rumors, and losing, but all their leader can talk about is winning.  This stands to be another transition year for the Pistons, but as Stuckey grows as a player and a leader so will the Pistons.  The 8th seed in the Eastern Conference is there for the taking, it’s time for Stuckey to let his play do the talking now.

It was announced yesterday that Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson has sold his five percent (worth 28 million) stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.  While this is an interesting move on many levels*, one can’t help but instantly link this sale to his interest in owning the Pistons.  Especially since he told Scott Howard-Cooper at over the summer about his interest in having a stake in the organization:

“Somebody back there has to be the majority owner. Be the owner,” said Johnson, who would have to sell his interest in the Lakers to work for or own another team.. “That wouldn’t be me. But if Ilitch or somebody — you’ve got a good guy back there already in Joe Dumars. If somebody said, ‘Hey, can you come and think about helping Joe Dumars?’ then I would think about it.  Just like the Lakers. It’s not the full [ownership]. You just get a little piece. But then you are involved in the basketball, how the decisions are made.”

Fast forward a few weeks from this quote(August 30th) and  Ilitch is in negotiations to purchase the Pistons and Johnson mysteriously sells his stake in the Lakers while the team’s value is at an all time high.  Johnson’s agent quickly refuted a connection, but offered little insight as to why Johnson would sell now.  It’s not far fetched to predict Johnson’s next move, especially considering what he could potentially gain.  It’s no secret Johnson is one of the most charismatic athlete’s in the world, and while he has had successful business’s all over the country he  could have the greatest success in his home state.  A Lansing native, he has remained involved with the state of Michigan, and has proudly supported the Michigan State Spartans’ basketball team, but now could serve as one of saviors who brings the Pistons back to Detroit.

Mike Ilitch has made it clear he wants to build a new arena downtown, but moving the Pistons has raised more concerns than predicted.  Although no sale is final, many have openly doubted the success of moving the Pistons downtown and question leaving the Palace vacant in Auburn Hills.  Not to mention persuading the city of Detroit into helping fund the building of a new arena downtown.  However by adding Johnson as an owner would allow for a much smoother transition.  It would cost Ilitch a small stake of his ownership, but could allow him to have everything he wants.  Ilitch already has Mayor Dave Bing on his side and having Johnson on board would make it very easy to win over the cities support to help fund a new state of the art arena and continue to build Ilitch’s downtown empire.

While on paper this partnership makes sense for the overall well being of the city of Detroit and the Pistons, but it also raises concerns.  Is the city in position to fund another stadium?  Currently Comerica Park and Ford Field have had minimal impact in providing financial gains for the city.  Adding a new arena and the Pistons could tip the scales and finally revamp the entertainment district, but it could also cripple the city.  Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful  this move could be it appears to be on the fast track to occurring.   This is a developing story, but one that will likely end with Magic Johnson and Mike Ilitch as new partners.  How do you feel about this partnership and the effects it could have on Detroit, Auburn Hills, and Michigan?

*Boring side of Magic Johnson selling his stake in the Los Angeles Lakers is that he simply needs money, and the Lakers made him offer he couldn’t refuse( today he sold 105 Starbucks franchises as well).  However, it still seems like this partnership is something Johnson will be interested in, but inevitably could mean more to Mike Ilitch.

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