The Detroit Pistons were supposed to play in June again this year. They were the ones predicted to come out of the junior varsity Eastern Conference. And to most everyone’s knowledge they would have given the San Antonio Spurs a much better run than the Cleveland Cavaliers. But a funny thing happened along the way. The funny thing was LeBron James, who did a Dwyane Wade (of last year’s NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks) and took them out in six games to send them home to golf and to fish.
One might say it was overconfidence, which could be true because it seemed as if the Pistons were playing at half speed while the Cavs were in constant overdrive. But that may also be in part because of the younger and fresher legs on the Cleveland squad. Or the Pistons, unlike in times past, just simply lost their killer instinct. Let’s not forget the 3-0 lead they had on the upstart Chicago Bulls. That series should have been over in four games, but it went to six. For all of the weapons that the Bulls had, they just didn’t have a Wade or a James to take over the game.
Or maybe it was the coaching and the lack of respect it seems is coming from the players. It’s becoming common to see forward Rasheed Wallace being disrespectful to his team or to his coach at the most crucial of times. Sure, it’s great to play with venom and with fire and with a burning intensity. But when you start to cross the line and continue to be volatile and unbridled and become an object of technical fouls and game throw-outs, you have to know you’re letting your team down.
General manager and Hall-of-Famer Joe Dumars quickly hosed any and all thoughts of Flip Saunders‘ dismissal. I’m sure there were more than a few moans, groans and sighs of dismay coming from the brethren in the locker room. Former Pistons center and current Bull Ben Wallace wasn’t at all pleased with the way Saunders called and made adjustments in games. And he wasn’t the only one although last year he was the only Piston to express frustration in the way that things were done in public.
What happens now? Well, you can almost squash all of the Rasheed-going-to-the-Knicks rumors too as Dumars declared ‘Sheed was the team’s most consistent player during the postseason. So the fantasy of having the volatile one suiting up under the bright lights of the Garden in NYC, are just that – a mere fantasy. Besides… Does anyone actually think that Dumars would help his former teammate and fellow Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas get better at his expense. Moves like that cost bosses their jobs.
The Pistons have to get younger and sleeker up front. Although Tayshaun Prince is the real deal, they have to figure out what to do with Nazr Mohammed after signing him to a long-term deal. And most importantly, what’s going to happen with former All-Star Chris Webber? Free agent Chauncey Billups will most certainly be back as Dumars said, “We will not handle Billups the way we handled (Ben) Wallace last year.”
We’ll see. Stay tuned.