The Detroit Tigers would be clinically insane to trade Michael Fulmer

Written by: Eddie Zilincik

This just in: The Detroit Tigers are going to be sellers at this year’s trading deadline… All right, you probably knew this, but who is staying and who is going?

If you have been paying attention to noted baseball writers such as Jon Paul Morosi, Peter Gammons, Buster Olney, and Jon Heyman, a number of big name Tigers will be wearing a different jersey by the month of August.

Players such as J.D. Martinez, Alex Avila, and Justin Wilson are near locks to be traded by the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Buster Olney even included J.D. Martinez and Justin Wilson in his recent article on players who are locks to be traded at the non-waiver trade deadline.

Ian Kinsler and Justin Verlander also have a chance to be traded, but the situation is more complicated with them because of their current contract situations, statistically down years, and Verlander’s 10-5 rights.

Recently though, a name has popped up in trade rumors that I never thought would ever be mentioned, and instead, would be considered untouchable by the front office management.

Michael Fulmer.

Trading Michael Fulmer? What?

You know, the Michael Fulmer who won American League Rookie of the year last season with an 11-7 record, 3.06 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and is just 24 years old.

Proving that his rookie seasons was no fluke, Fulmer has come back in his first full season (since last year he was on an innings limit and didn’t make his season debut until April 29th) and has been even better than this season.

Fulmer has so far posted a 10-6 record, 3.06 ERA in 123.2 IP, and a 1.07 WHIP, while also being selected to his first (of many) all star games.

Fulmer is under team control through the 2018 season and isn’t eligible for arbitration until the 2019 season. However, Fulmer would not hit the open market until after the 2022 season.

The Tigers would have Fulmer under their own control until after the 2022 season (which is 5.5 seasons from this point forward) and certainly could come to an agreeable number with Fulmer to avoid arbitration all together and instead pay him through the rest of his rookie contract (similar to what the Angels did with Mike Trout).

The speculation and heavy opinions all started with a Peter Gammons report. Gammons, piggybacking off of a Jon Paul Morosi report from July 3rd that said the Cubs were interested in acquiring Verlander and Avila, stated that the Cubs had moved on from Verlander and were now talking to the Tigers about Fulmer and Daniel Norris.

Forget Daniel Norris for now, the name that raised ire from the fans and local sports talk hosts was Michael Fulmer (and rightfully so). I thought to myself, well this is nothing but fodder for the local media to talk and write about since the team is nowhere near contention and once they sell, there really isn’t going to be anything to talk about until football season.

That day however, I got in the car and flipped on the radio, and there Mike Valenti was giving an impassioned speech on why the Tigers should flip Fulmer for all they can get for him right now. Later on in the day, I turned the radio back on again and Kyle Boogie was basically regurgitating what Valenti had said earlier in the day.

The unintentionally concerted message I received from both of their rants was that the Tigers need to have a complete firesale of all assets as soon as possible and that also Michael Fulmer’s best years will be wasted on a team that is going to lose 90 games a season for the next five years.

Additionally, the radio hosts stated that because Fulmer is the best asset the Tigers have (which he definitely is) he will get the most in return out of any Tiger that will be traded at the upcoming deadline and will in turn speed up the rebuild process.

Valenti and Boogie are right on a couple ideas here, the potential return on Fulmer would be astronomical and the Tigers are most definitely in need of a tear down sell off at the deadline.

Here is why they are both wrong and Fulmer shouldn’t and won’t end up being traded.

J.D. Martinez is a hot commodity

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The Tigers will sell off their most tradeable assets at this upcoming deadline and hopefully (unless Al Avila does something unthinkable like not trading anyone or ends up getting fleeced in these deals) gets back near major league ready talent for the players who have high value right now (J.D Martinez, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila). The team will possibly move Kinsler and Justin Verlander as well, depending on interest and on the amount of money the Tigers are willing to eat on Verlander’s deal for what they can get for them.

The best returns that the Tigers will receive will come from J.D. Martinez and Justin Wilson. J.D. Martinez (similar to Yoenis Cespedes when he was traded before the 2015 non-waiver deadline) is a rental player who is slated to become a free agent following the end of this season. Cespedes was the player who got the Tigers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa (who was then traded for Justin Wilson along with prospect Chad Green by Al Avila the following winter).

For comparison sake, J.D. Martinez has a .308 batting average, 1.025 OPS., with 16 home runs and 39 RBIs. Martinez’s defense has been near the bottom of the league this season (he has a -.7 dwar and -7 defensive runs saved), but Martinez also crushes left handed pitching to a .474 batting average and a 1.105 OPS.

During his 2015 season with the Tigers, Cespedes had a .293 batting average, .829 OPS., with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs. Cespedes had a .8 dwar during his time with the Tigers, but the point remains the same that what exactly is the difference between what the Tigers traded in 2015 (which landed them Fulmer and eventually Justin Wilson) to what they are planning to trade now with JD? Fans should expect a huge haul for J.D. if Avila does his job and gets the best available deal for his asset.

Justin Wilson is having a career year

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Justin Wilson (unlike J.D.) is not a rental player and is instead under contract (arbitration eligible in 2018) through the end of the 2018 season. Around this time last year, the Yankees made the un-Yankee like decision to sell at the deadline, with one of the players they sold being Andrew Miller.

The thing that made this decision so smart was that the Yankees sold Miller when he was under contract for two additional seasons after the trading deadline. Justin Wilson is nowhere near the pitcher that Andrew Miller is and has nowhere near the track record that Miller does, but he is having a career year and (like Miller) is under contract to be more than just a rental for the team that acquires him.

Wilson has great numbers this season, with a 2.29 ERA in 35.1 innings pitched. Wilson also has 50 strikeouts compared to 13 walks, with .0906 WHIP. Miller (during his 2016 time with the Yankees before being sold to the Indians) had a 1.39 ERA, .772 WHIP in 45.1 innings pitched. While the two aren’t as comparable as Cespedes and J.D. Martinez, the Tigers have one of the best (if not the best) relief arms on the market right now, who has also shown his ability to close out games (10/11 in save opportunities) with more than one year on his contract.

Reports are out today that there is a bidding war between teams who are interested in acquiring Wilson’s services (which assuredly will only help, not hurt his returns). A great return should be expected for Wilson in addition to J.D., if and only if Al Avila makes the best deal for the Tigers.

Is Chris Ilitch cheap or does he want to win?

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If the Tigers do the prudent thing and trade as many as their high value players right now, while also getting what they can for Verlander and Kinsler (despite most likely having to kick in some money for Verlander), they could be back to being competitive sooner than most think, with one big if.

That big if is Chris Ilitch. Does he want to spend (obviously nowhere near the levels of his father) or is he about to turn the Detroit Tigers into the Tampa Bay Rays north?

Ian Kinsler ($10 million dollar club option, $5 million dollar buyout) and Anibal Sanchez ($16 million dollar club option, $5 million dollar buyout) come off the books following this season. The awful contracts of Mike Pelfrey ($8 million dollars) and Mark Lowe ($5.5 million dollars) will also be off the payroll following this season.

Following the 2018 season, Victor Martinez’s dead weight contract ($18 million dollars) will be off of the payroll as well. Depending on if the organization decides to trade Verlander and his 28 million dollar salary for the next two seasons (also depending how much they are willing to chip in on his contract) and if Upton decides to opt-out of his contract following this season ($22.125 million dollars through the 2021 season), the Tigers could suddenly back toward financial normalcy by the end of 2018.

By the end of the 2018 season, the Tigers will have $47.5 million dollars off the payroll they currently carry at this moment. If Upton opts out (something I wouldn’t want but would take the salary relief), they will have $69.62 million dollars off the payroll. If they trade Verlander and kick in a hefty amount of money (let’s say $20 million dollars for arguments sake, which would be $10 million for each of his two remaining seasons after this year), they will have an additional $18 million dollars chopped off of that payroll after 2018 (near $90 million dollars freed up if things go as I said).

By the end of 2018, if Avila manages the rebuild correctly and trades Verlander, the payroll will be near respectability (even if Upton doesn’t opt out). Following a purge that lands high level minor league returns this trade deadline and high draft picks after two awful campaigns in 2017 and 2018, the Tigers could then be ready to possibly spend again (fiscally responsibly on cost effective major league talent).

The Future

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There are a lot of big questions marks here, but in my opinion, this could be the way that the Tigers could be back to respectability sooner than doing a complete Houston Astros’ tear down. The team did sell off assets in 2015 helping start the rebuild process, where they got Fulmer, Norris, Luis Cessa, and Matt Boyd.

The biggest if is whether or not Chris Ilitch wants to spend at all. The other big questions I have is will Miguel Cabrera become more like Albert Pujols or more like David Ortiz with age, will Upton opt out, and will Daniel Norris become what he was billed to be when he was obtained?

By the 2019 season, some of the Tigers current draft picks and prospects (such as Matt Manning, Beau Borrows, Kyle Funkhouser, Christian Stewart) will be major league ready, in addition to the players who are acquired at this deadline. Couple them in with Fulmer and Norris (who I expect to rebound), a more productive and healthy Miguel Cabrera than this season, Joe Jimenez at the back end of the bullpen, and whatever the Tigers add with their now found salary relief (if Chris Ilitch is willing to spend) and the team could be back to competing for the playoffs again.

Trading J.D. Martinez and the players listed above is not certain to land the team prospects that will certainly pan out. Trading Fulmer is not also a guarantee to have certified great players come back in return. One thing is nearly for certain though; Michael Fulmer is going to dominate for years to come and trading him at his age right now for uncertainty is not the right move at all when he is so young and under team control for so many years to come.

As for the next one and half years, get ready to see Victor Martinez in an empty stadium ground into the shift four times a game with Bruce Rondon blowing games at the back end of the bullpen (hint: it’s going to get ugly). With some of the payroll constraints that will still be with the team through 2018, it’s hard to envision Ilitch giving the go ahead to add heavy payroll before next season, but after 2018 it is plausible, if Ilitch gives the go ahead.

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The Detroit Pistons’ Roster isn’t Good Enough: Time for Drastic Change

Written by: Eddie Zilincik

After a horrendous season which included turmoil, infighting, lackluster play, and falling woefully short of expectations, Stan Van Gundy and the Detroit Pistons are in need of drastic change.

When the Detroit Pistons announced that they were signing Stan Van Gundy to a five year, $35 million dollar contract to be head their Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations, there was optimism among the fans and local media with the Detroit Pistons for the first time in over a half decade.

Those days are long gone.

History

Many fans and media members alike have started to question the viability of Stan Van Gundy as an executive, as well as his viability as head coach of the Detroit Pistons. Van Gundy previously made NBA head coaching stops in Miami and Orlando, where he had a combined .640 winning percentage in 8 NBA seasons.

His time in both stops did not end happily however. During his time in Orlando, Van Gundy was let go after letting it be known publicly that his best player (Dwight Howard) had gone to management and asked that they fire Van Gundy. Midway through the 2005-06 season, Van Gundy resigned as head coach of the Miami Heat (coming off of a year where the Heat came within 1 win of reaching the NBA finals) to spend more time with his family.

With his resignation, Miami Heat President Pat Riley came down from the front office to become Head Coach again (later that season winning the NBA championship). Van Gundy said at the time that he wasn’t forced out, but it doesn’t take a degree from Harvard to see that Riley forced Van Gundy to step down, especially when you factor in how soon Van Gundy came back to the NBA sidelines (less than one and a half years later).

Van Gundy is a tough, vocal, highly critical coach to play for. Van Gundy often calls out  his players publicly in post game press conferences, while he is also frequently seen going on sideline tantrums and rants directed at players. With his past history (of having superstar players turn their backs on him), the media has started to question whether history is repeating itself here in Detroit. Due to way things ended in his previous two stops, people around the NBA did question giving Van Gundy personnel control in addition to being the head coach when he was hired in May of 2014.

The Detroit Pistons’ 2016-17 campaign, Aka the season from hell

 

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As for the team Van Gundy coaches now, the entire season got off on a sour note, when Reggie Jackson required platelet-rich plasma injections to treat knee tendinitis and a sprained right thumb. In Jackson’s absence, the Pistons got off to an 11-10 start – which considering the circumstances – was highly acceptable.

Thinking that they had weathered the storm and got back their star point guard (who averaged 18.8ppg and 6.2apg the previous season), the team felt they were ready to make hay in the Eastern Conference. Upon Jackson’s return however, the opposite occurred.

The team went into a complete tailspin, going 4-10 in the team’s first 14 games following Jackson’s return. The team also held an extremely publicized players only meeting, where it was reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the team “cried out for more ball movement.” During this meeting according to Lowe, the team also questioned having to hide Jackson on the least threatening wing player on defense.

Following the team meeting, in what seen as too peculiar to just be coincidence, Jackson didn’t take a shot in the first half (in a game where the Pistons ended up trailing 69-34 at halftime). After the game Van Gundy famously declared “team meeting my ass,” while later saying “all that is just talk when you play like that.”

After a month more of instability and inconsistency, the Pistons battled back from an 18-24 hole. The team improved their record all the way up to 33-33 by March 11th.

The Detroit Pistons’ Closer: Ish Smith?

Despite the perseverance, inconsistent play still the challenged the Pistons’ season during the entire time the team improved their record back .500. Something else had become readily apparent as well during this time period.

The Pistons’ perceived best two players (Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson) were being overshadowed by bench players. The team was clearly performing better when Pistons’ backup point guard Ish Smith was on the floor, along with any other lineup that didn’t feature Drummond.

In games vs. the Hornets (Feb. 23), at the Raptors (Feb. 12), and vs. the Pelicans (February 1), the team went on furious fourth quarter rallies (coming back from double digit deficits in the fourth quarter) to win without a second of playtime from Reggie Jackson or Andre Drummond in the fourth quarter. These games are not the only examples of this happening during the season, where Jackson and Drummond contributed nothing (or virtually nothing) in terms of minutes during the fourth quarter of games (the time when you want your highest paid players to be on the court).

Due to the inconsistent play by the team as a whole, coupled with the atrocious play from Jackson and the puzzling play from Drummond, Van Gundy reportedly shopped around Drummond and Jackson at the trade deadline, to feel out the trade market for the two star players. Van Gundy ultimately didn’t pull the trigger, but the rumors show that Van Gundy has trepidations about the long term viability of Jackson and Drummond as the faces of his franchise.

The Pistons show their true colors

Once the Pistons got back up to their 33-33 high mark, the season got undeniable worse before coming to a crashing halt. The team went on a humiliating, disastrous 2-10 stretch before being eliminated from the playoff contention for good.  During this time, Van Gundy announced that the team was shutting down Reggie Jackson for the season and that he was playing at about 80 percent all year.

During this time period, the Pistons had losses by double digit margins to teams such as the Magic (26-46 at the time), the Knicks (27-46 at the time), and the Bulls (33-38 at the time). This point of the season also saw tragic last second losses or huge blown leads in games against the Heat, the Bucks, the Raptors (on March 17 and April 5), and the 13-56 Brooklyn Nets (where they lost on a game winning buzzer beater as time expired).

 

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After their puzzling blowout losses to sub .500 teams, questions about whether or not the team had tuned out Van Gundy started in full force. Questions about the stars who were leading the team (Jackson five years/ $80 million and Drummond five years/ $127 million) and their salaries started to crop up as well.

Anyway you slice the Pistons’ season, it was an abject failure. Stan Van Gundy (who uses a four out, one in system based on three-point shooting) has failed to acquire adequate shooting during his three off seasons as President of Basketball Operations. His signings of Jon Leuer and Ish Smith during the offseason did nothing to solve the Pistons’ question of perimeter shooting, as they actually got worse this season.

The team was 19th in the NBA in the 2015-16 season (at 34.6 percent), but then dropped to 28th out of 30 teams during the 2016-17 season (at 33 percent).

The Future (hopefully without Reggie Jackson)

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There have to be questions about the stars of the team and exactly how much you can win with them, especially Reggie Jackson. Jackson’s medical condition and his longevity have to be questioned as well. Reggie Jackson, who is 26, and his recovery from the injury (which was minor and that he reportedly never recovered fully from during the season) coupled with his play during the season has to draw concern (14.5 ppg with 5.2 apg on 41.9 percent shooting)

In his article on the Pistons, Zach Lowe gave a stat that stated Jackson was shooting a deplorable 49.5 percent in the restricted area. Bleacher Report also ranked Jackson as the worst defender at his position during the 2016-17 season, stating that the Jackson is “ranking as literally the worst stopper at any position.”

Drummond did not have a good season either, by any measure. His numbers decreased from 16.2 ppg and 14.8 rpg in 2015-16, to 13.6 ppg and 13.8 rpg in 2016-17. Even though Drummond’s shooting percentage went up from 52 percent to 53 percent this season, Drummond’s blocks per game decreased from 1.4 to 1.1 while shot a ghastly 40.5 percent on hook shots (second worst in the NBA). Also when Drummond and Jackson were both on the floor, opponents outscored the Pistons by seven points per 100 possessions, which would rank them 29th in the NBA, according to the ESPN article by Zach Lowe.

With the developments this season with Drummond and Jackson, it is imperative that Van Gundy trade Reggie Jackson by any measure necessary. His medical concerns going forward are too severe, along with his bad play, questionable shot selection, lackluster ball distribution, and his locker room attitude, which has rubbed people the wrong way in the past.

The Pistons’ should also open up trade talks for Andre Drummond this coming offseason, but only for the right price. When Jackson was healthy during the 2015-16 campaign, the Pistons ran the one-five pick and roll as their predominant play, but with Jackson’s injury this season, the play wasn’t able to be run effectively. If the Pistons are able to acquire a competent point guard this offseason, similar success could be had with Drummond.

Trading a player like a Marcus Morris or Tobias Harris, who are both on cost effective contracts, for more shooting to fit Van Gundy’s system would also be optimal. In addition, Van Gundy needs to make sure to acquire shooting any way possible this offseason while also making sure to re-sign shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

“I don’t think we need any bombshell moves, I like our group,” said Van Gundy.

Coming off of a year where the team went from a 44 win playoff team, to a 37 win lottery that had a 44.5 win loss over under in Las Vegas this preseason, that is not what the fans want to hear from the man who is calling the shots.

All but two players (Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) were acquired or signed by Van Gundy. This is Van Gundy’s team; he has no one to blame but himself for this season’s absolute failure.

Van Gundy can like this group all he wants, but with one more bad season, he will have to like them while being unemployed.

 

 

The Honeymoon is over for Stan Van Gundy

The Honeymoon is over for the Detroit Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy: How we got here, why we’re here, and where we go now

Written By: Eddie Zilincik

 

May 14, 2014.

What comes to mind when you think about this day? Nothing truly significant happened in world history or politics. No person who was universally known or acclaimed died, so why is this day significant?

If you are a fan of the Detroit Pistons, this is one of the most important days in your franchise’s history. This is the most important day since the team beat the Los Angeles Lakers on the Palace floor in June of 2004.

This was the day the Detroit Pistons announced that they had hired Stan Van Gundy, not only to be their head coach, but to be the President of Basketball Operations as well.

Detroit Pistons: NBA Laughinstock

The move to hire Van Gundy was one that opened eyes around the NBA. After nearly a decade of glory in the 2000s that included back to back NBA Finals appearances, a NBA championship, six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances, and Detroit legend’s who roamed the court such as Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups, Detroit had become a NBA wasteland.

Coaches were tossed aside like empty milk cartons; the Palace stands were laughably and embarrassingly empty. Crowds as small as 3 to 4000 fans left the Palace (which sold out every game from January 19, 2004 to February 5, 2009) as a town laughingstock that would only be close to full when Lebron James or Kobe Bryant ventured to Auburn Hills.

The direction of the franchise was comparable to a rudderless ship. The team was nowhere near the level of a contender from the beginning of the 2008-09 season until the season before Van Gundy was hired; (a 179-297 record over a six season span, good for a .360 win percentage) however they were not nearly bad enough to get a top NBA lottery pick.

This is known as being in NBA purgatory.

Joe Dumars (Pistons GM from 2000-2014) gave out horrific contracts to marginal NBA players like a parent gives out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

It was time for a change. It was time for something bold.

Tom Gores bought the Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment in April 2011 for $325 Million Dollars. In his first three years as owner, the fans and local media weren’t exactly sure what to make of Tom Gores the NBA Owner.

Gores is not your typical NBA owner. Although he is originally from Michigan, Gores operates and lives out of Los Angeles, California. He only attends a handful of Pistons games in person at the Palace.

In his first three seasons as owner, Gores laid in the weeds. His direction and ideas for the franchise were not clear at all.

After another Joe Dumars spending spree gone wrong in the summer of 2013, Gores finally put his stamp on the team he owned.

Gores fired longtime General Manager and former Detroit Piston Hall of Fame player Joe Dumars in April 2014 (although Dumars was asked to stay on as a consultant, he was no longer the GM). It was a move that was long overdue, but still a move that had to be troubling for Gores because of Dumars’ long and glorious history with the franchise.

The franchise was now essentially a blank canvas for any newcomer to take on, but what direction would the Pistons go from here?

Detroit Pistons Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy

Enter Stan Van Gundy.

Stan Van Gundy had a long and illustrious career as a NBA head coach, but had a history of getting railroaded by management and players before coming to Detroit. Van Gundy coached the Miami Heat from 2003-2005, getting to the Eastern Conference Finals and losing to the Detroit Pistons in seven games before being forced out by Heat President Pat Riley in the middle of the 2005-06 season. He then coached the Orlando Magic from 2007-2012, getting all the way to the NBA Finals before falling in five games to Los Angeles Lakers in 2009.

Near the end of the 2011-12 season, Van Gundy told the media during a practice that star player Dwight Howard had asked management to fire him. Shortly after the season, Van Gundy was let go.

With a record of 371-208, (good for a .640 win percentage) it would seem a team thought of as lowly as the Pistons were in NBA circles hiring a coach with the track record of Van Gundy would be a pipe dream.

Why would Van Gundy, a coach who during the same offseason he committed to be Head Basketball Coach of the Detroit Pistons, was in contract negotiations with the sexiest open job available at the time in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors, (a team who the next NBA season would win the NBA title) sign for five years and $35 million with one of the worst franchises in the NBA?

Control.

Van Gundy was formerly introduced to the media as the team’s Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations on May 16, 2014.

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This was the perfect marriage. Van Gundy had seen what it was like when the head coach and management weren’t on the same page; usually the head coach gets fired.

Gores had seen what it was like when the head coach and management weren’t on the same page; that was what his first three years of ownership were.

Now Van Gundy only had to be on the same page as the owner without constantly looking over his shoulder.

The move to hire Van Gundy to fix the sinking ship was one that was nearly universally acclaimed among fans and local media.

The question that remained now was if Van Gundy was truly the right man for the job.

Van Gundy’s first season was as turbulent and ugly as the previous six before him were for the franchise at the start of the year, causing many to question what exactly the Pistons just did giving control to Van Gundy. The team hit rock bottom in December 2014 after starting 5-23.

Coming into the season, there was renewed optimism for the Pistons when Van Gundy was hired with a roster composed of many of the same players who were picked to go to the playoffs before the start of the previous season.

All that was gone, but then something unforeseen occurred, letting Pistons fans know that this regime was going to be different.

Times are a changing

Van Gundy released Forward Josh Smith, who was the highest paid player on the team.

In a move that was unprecedented in NBA history, Van Gundy used the stretch provision to wave the remaining 3 years and $40.5 million on Smith’s contract.

After releasing Smith, Van Gundy said that “We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future.”

The team finally had a direction! The rest of that year the team and management showed the fans that the days of atrocious on court basketball play and terrible management decisions were slowly but surely coming to an end.

After releasing Josh Smith, the Pistons went on a seven game win streak, winning in other NBA contenders houses such as Cleveland, Dallas, and San Antonio. A stretch that hadn’t been equaled since the 2007-08 campaign (the last year the Pistons won a playoff series or had a winning record).

The team went on a 12-3 stretch, realistically flirting with the NBA playoffs after digging themselves a titanic hole, until point guard Brandon Jennings blew out his Achilles Tendon, ending his season.

Van Gundy decided to make moves for the team’s future, rather than a silly playoff appearance which would’ve assuredly ended in a first round defeat.

Van Gundy and team General Manager Jeff Bower worked a trade at the deadline, essentially giving up nothing for Point Guard Reggie Jackson. This was not a short-term move, instead a move with an eye on the future.

Despite missing the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, the team took a step forward in Van Gundy’s first year. The Pistons finished 27-27 over a 54 game stretch to end the season, (the best record in a 54 game sample since the 2008-09 campaign) despite a roster which constantly had turnover during that stretch.

Van Gundy’s first year was seen as a wash that wasn’t his fault.

Van Gundy: The Executive

Van Gundy the executive continued to make shrewd moves from the offseason into the 2015-16 season where he gave up low value assets to gain high reward commodities.

Van Gundy traded a 2020 second round pick for Marcus Morris (the team’s starting small forward) and Reggie Bullock (a key bench contributor)

Van Gundy then traded two expiring contracts for Power Forward Tobias Harris in the middle of the 2015-16 season.

The team now fully fit Van Gundy’s four out one in offense where shooters are spread around three-point line with the center as the focal point (Andre Drummond).

Filled in with signees from Van Gundy’s two years as president, the team was now ready to make hay and legitimately compete with his players.

The Pistons took another step forward during the 2015-16 season with Van Gundy’s roster construction. They won 44 games, their best mark since the 2007-08 season, ending their long and humiliating streak of missing the playoffs.

Although they were swept by the eventual world champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, three of the four games went down to the wire, showing the rest of league that they are capable of good things in the years to come.

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What Now?

Van Gundy was given a pass by media and fans for his first two years.

That is no longer the case. This is his team now and these are all his players. He bears responsibility for what happens from now on.

The team has improved each year under Van Gundy, as he and management continue to build toward something great, however if the team goes the wrong way this season, he will not be given a free pass again.

Even though Van Gundy is one of most likebale people in sports, with brash opinions and expletitives often directed toward his own players, crossfire will be directed at him if things go bad and he will be firmly on the hot seat going into year four if that is the case

Meanwhile, for this season fans should expect a playoff series win and at least competeting in the second round at the minimum with the way the team has progressed under Van Gundy. Anything to the contrary, barring a catastrophic injury, is unacceptable and will be met with scorn by me, the fans, and the media.