Detroit Pistons: The win-now mentality is a thing of the past

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The urgency to win-now for the Detroit Pistons has lightened with the organization clearly in the midst of a rebuild.

It’s a gloomy time in the City of Detroit for its sports fans.  The word ‘rebuild’ is following each of the cities’ four major sports teams.  In the past, when the Detroit Red Wings were rebuilding, both the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Pistons were contending, and even the Detroit Lions won a playoff game.

Later, when the Red Wings were ripping off championships, and the ‘going to work’ Detroit Pistons won a title, the Tigers were on the mend, rebuilding, gearing up for a ten-year championship contention, despite falling short.

To have all four teams rebuilding at once is tough to take.  It’s a bleak time when you consider a single playoff berth from either team is an unexpected and challenging accomplishment.

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The Detroit Pistons appear to be the closest organization to once again be a playoff team of the four major Detroit sports teams.  Does that mean head coach Dwane Casey’s job is safe?  It was just mid-season before the NBA trade deadline when murmurs of Casey’s job being somewhat in doubt surfaced.

Casey was brought into Detroit in hopes of elevating the team to the next level that hopefully included a trip back to the Eastern Conference Finals.  Instead, the Detroit Pistons were swiftly swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks.  It must have been agonizing for Casey, who played a crucial role in developing the young players on the Toronto Raptors win the NBA Championship a year after he was fired.

Not often does a head coach win the coach of the year award and lose his job.  Nick Nurse inherited a talented Raptors team after the organization added a top-five player in Kawhi Leonard, Toronto became a favorite in the East.  Not taking anything away from Nurse, but Casey may have been able to also win a title having Leonard at his disposal.

When owner Tom Gores and team executive Ed Stefanski brought Casey to Detroit, he was expected to lead the Pistons back into the playoffs, perhaps even landing home-court advantage in round one.  Needless to say, things haven’t gone as planned.

After an embarrassing first-round exit, the Detroit Pistons added Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris to try and bolster their roster. Still, it was injuries to just about every impact player that derailed this past season.  The emergence of Christian Wood was an unexpected plot twist, but with Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, and Luke Kennard on the shelf for a long-term period of time, a once hopeful season became a season filled with ‘what-ifs.’

What if the Detroit Pistons happened to remain healthy all season long?  What would this team look like with Wood, Morris, and Rose anchoring the second-team offense?  Instead, it was more of a developmental second unit and a below-average group forced to start.

After the host of injuries derailed the season, the Detroit Pistons made the wise decision to start a rebuild.  Detroit cut ties with Jackson and Morris, along with trading Andre Drummond assuring they’d clear an abundance of salary-cap space for the upcoming offseason.

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For head coach Casey, the rebuild will likely take some pressure to win-now off of his shoulders.  Casey is a proven coach, a great coach to oversee a rebuild, and a perfect man to bring along the young players currently and soon to be on the roster.  Casey’s job that once had been in some form of doubt should be secure for next season and beyond.