The Detroit Pistons take on the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight in their final game before the All-Star break. A win tonight would send the Pistons on the high of tying a season-best four-game winning streak and into a home-and-home with the eighth-place Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 12 and 13.
The firing of Maurice Cheeks may have given the team the much deserved kick in the rear end they’ve needed and hopefully catapult them back into the playoff picture where they belong. The win Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs clearly showcased what this team is capable of when they hit on all cylinders. What the Pistons need to show now is consistency and continued enthusiasm; both of which have sincerely lacked throughout the season under former head honcho Cheeks.
The play of point guard Brandon Jennings so far in the young month of February has been terrific. Jennings is averaging 23.8 points and 8.0 assists per contest and is shooting 41.7 percent from the floor. Balanced play from Jennings has proven to be the Pistons’ golden ticket this season. In a match-up tonight against Cleveland’s All-Star Kyrie Irving, look for Jennings to play with a chip on his shoulder in front of the home Palace crowd.
Although the Pistons are on this current win streak and have endured the firing of their head coach, it still has to be tough in the locker room with the inordinate amount of trade rumors floating around. Will Josh Smith or Greg Monroe be dealt? What about Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva’s expiring contracts?
With the deadline looming it’s hard to say what the Pistons plan on doing. The Pistons brass have already said they plan on matching any max-level offer sheet for Monroe and it seems virtually impossible that they will be able to deal Smith’s hefty $54 million contract. Stuckey is an extremely valuable scoring punch off the bench for the Pistons if they plan on making a playoff push and Villanueva would simply be an expiring entity to a team looking to clear cap space at season’s end.
With all of that said, it doesn’t seem in the realm of possibility that the Pistons will be major players at the Feb. 20 trade deadline. But, in the wacky world of the NBA, and in particular the wacky mind of Joe Dumars, who knows what will happen in the next week.
The Pistons can’t afford to make hasty decisions based on their success for this season and risk their future. If the team plans on trying to make the Drummond-Monroe-Smith frontcourt work, then make it adamant that this is the team’s future and don’t let the barrage of trade rumors impede on the progress that seems to be taking place. If the team doesn’t like the idea of this frontcourt playing together for years to come, then deal Monroe (for the proper price) or somehow ship away Smith.
After Cheeks’ premature dismissal, the time is now to make some decisions for the team’s future going forward.