Pistons need to shake things up

The ugliness unleashed at the Palace on Friday night no doubt will serve as Exhibit A or maybe even B or C to the Burkeophiles as to why Joe Dumars should have drafted Michigan star Trey Burke last summer.

The Pistons should be embarrassed. But it had nothing do with whom they should have drafted last summer.

They dogged it in a 110-89 loss to the Utah Jazz. That’s inexcusable considering they were five days removed from their previous game and played one of the worst teams in the Western Conference absent their best player.

They quit.

They offered little perimeter resistance when the Jazz’s Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams launched away from three-point range in the first half. They meekly backed down when center Enes Kanter came off the bench in the second quarter and forcefully dominated under the basket, igniting the beginnings of what became one of the worst regular-season Pistons efforts in quite some time with a 21-8 run in the final 6 minutes of the first half.

“I think we let that run discourage us,” Andre Drummond said.

Discouraged enough to call it an early evening at halftime?

That’s an indictment of the players’ lack of pride and professionalism. It’s an indictment of the coaching staff and the front office.

The Pistons are less a team and more a collection of movable pieces. It’s time to start moving them.

They’ve got two very attractive expiring contracts in Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, a solidly productive power forward in Greg Monroe who doesn’t fit within the new front-court alignment because he lacks a midrange offensive game, and a scoring point guard in Brandon Jennings with a very palatable three-year, $24-million contract.

They must be an active participant in what should be a very fluid trading season before the deadline in five weeks. That’s what this season has been about from the beginning. The moves made during the summer only set the table for the potentially big move that comes next.

Could that be Boston guard Rajon Rondo? He finally returned to action Friday night after missing almost an entire calendar year after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Could it be Philadelphia swingman Evan Turner, who’s now on the trading block because the Sixers are confident they’ve got their potential franchise foundation piece in early rookie of the year favorite Michael Carter-Williams? The Pistons are in dire need of a legitimate scoring small forward to spread the floor and eliminate the clogging that occurs when Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith are on the floor at the same time.

If there was a mistake, it wasn’t passing on Burke but rather Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-6 lead guard who is defensively versatile.

Friday’s ugliness resonates stronger because the game attracted more interest with Burke’s return to the state. There were plenty of Michigan jerseys in the stands. One fan held up a “Thank You Trey” sign in appreciation for leading the Wolverines to the national championship game last April.

But lost amid the Burkeophiles’ blind fervor was that if Burke and Jennings traded places Friday night, the Pistons still lose in lopsidedly embarrassing fashion.

Their blind spot is understandable. But this idea that he would single-handedly improve the fortunes of what still would have been a disjointed Pistons roster borders on lunacy.

It was better for Burke that he went to Utah. The Jazz’s identity this season already was a white flag. It was the perfect situation for a young player to develop without worrying about rookie mistakes potentially proving fatal to playoff chances.

And if you really have Burke’s best interests at heart, would you really want him exposed to the Pistons’ fleas?


Posted by Tribune News Services

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