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MMPG: Team of the Weak

Detroit Pistons

I'm serious, Allen. The Denver Nuggets said they want you back. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Dee--Troit Bas--ket--baall ain't what it used to be. The Detroit Pistons lost a season-long sixth consecutive game on Sunday, dropping an embarrassing 99-78 defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It wasn't too long ago that the Pistons were actually looking like a contender for the Central Division crown. Now, the playoffs don't look guaranteed anymore.

On Jan. 9, Detroit was 22-12 after defeating former Piston Chauncey Billups and the Denver Nuggets. Since then, the Pistons have hit a depressing funk that has seen them go 5-15 of their past 20 games to go 27-27 on the season. The Pistons' schedule doesn't get any easier with five consecutive games against playoff teams (Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, Boston and Denver). They could fall below .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2000-01, when that Pistons team finished 32-50.

It's easy to place all the blame on Allen Iverson, but Rodney Stuckey has been the player who has struggled most during this deflating stretch of games. Stuckey, Billups' replacement at point guard, scored 13 combined points in losses against Milwaukee, San Antonio and Cleveland. The Pistons have gone 4-10 since rookie coach Michael Curry decided to move Richard Hamilton to the bench. What do Pistons fans have to look forward to? Iverson and Rasheed Wallace's contracts come off the books this summer, giving Joe Dumars a chance to start over.

By Michael Lee  |  February 23, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
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Well, Dumars went for the brass ring, and instead it looks like he got something from a box of CrackerJacks. Iverson doesn't fit, Stuckey is acting like a second-year player, and Rasheed is sleepwalking through games... you know, this is a team that might have gone a long way into the playoffs this year if Joe hadn't started twiddling with it. But it wouldn't have won a title, and I guess in Detroit that's all that counts...

Posted by: Samson151 | February 23, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Dumars isn't stupid. He knew the odds of the Pistons winning a title with Iverson were long. but he also knew the odds of them winning one if they kept Billups weren't much better. The window had clearly closed on this team in regards to seriously challenging for a title. Could they have won 50+ games and possibly made it back to the conf. Finals if Billups had stayed? Possibly. Did they have a realistic shot at getting past Cleveland, Boston, LA, or San Antonio for the title? Not really. And the Pistons were at a point where anything short of a title was a failure. So instead of running in place for another season, Dumars decided to take a step back so the team could move forward.

The Pistons will have upwards pf $20 mill in cap room this summer, in an economic climate where teams are basically looking to give away players without taking much if any salary back in order to avoid the luxury tax. Dumars has the Pistons perfectly positioned to pull off another Gasol-for-nothing type trade, possibly even two of them. He knows full well what he's doing.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 23, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

and the Wizards don't!

I would have made the trade AJ for Wally and the two for Hughes.

In 2010 the Wizards would have had a chance to improve. Instead the Wizards are stuck in nomans land. Not good enough to win a championship and too far over the cap to make deals.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 23, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

As Mike Shanahan used to say, you can go to all the playoffs you want, the only thing that counts is the Super Bowl.

Let's hope the Pistons come back strong.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 23, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

As a native Detroiter, I hope so. Dumars has already proven he can turn things around quickly, and he's nicely positioned himself to do it again.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 23, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

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