Status Quo

Pistons stand pat on ho-hum deadline day; Cavs, Bobcats make minor moves
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

If the Pistons mount a playoff push, it will be done without reinforcements. The trade deadline came and went Thursday afternoon without a move to add anyone to the roster on another largely uneventful deadline day that saw mostly fringe players swapped around the league.

Their lack of a trade hardly registers as a surprise. Without a first-round pick in the widely anticipated 2014 draft to offer, the Pistons didn’t have great flexibility to pursue roster upgrades. Trade speculation around the league centered on Greg Monroe for his status as a pending restricted free agent and on Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva for their expiring contracts.

But the Pistons have staunchly maintained their view of Monroe as a franchise cornerstone and Stuckey’s contributions off the bench, where he anchors the second unit and is often the focal point of their fourth-quarter offense, will be critical to their playoff drive. Falling out of the rotation while struggling all season to find his 3-point stroke likely minimized Villanueva’s trade appeal.

The most notable deadline-day developments came from the teams sandwiching the Pistons as they enter the final 28 games 2½ games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. That’s the spot currently occupied by Charlotte, which picked up two backup guards from Milwaukee – veteran point guard Luke Ridnour and 3-point shooter Gary Neal – in exchange for guard Ramon Sessions and little-used power forward Jeff Adrien.

Cleveland, winners of six straight to pull within one game of the Pistons in the loss column, sent combo forward Earl Clark and backup big man Henry Sims to Philadelphia, along with two second-round picks, in exchange for Spencer Hawes. Hawes’ appeal for the Cavs will be as a pick-and-pop big man to pair with Kyrie Irving for an offense that leans heavily on pick-and-roll action.

The last three Pistons’ games have come against the Bobcats and Cavaliers. They lost to Cleveland just before the break, letting a 10-point lead with eight minutes to play slip away, to end a three-game winning streak. Then they came back from the
All-Stark break and lost back-to-back games to Charlotte.

The Pistons, 22-32, owe a first-round draft pick to the Bobcats as a condition of the June 2012 trade that sent Ben Gordon to Charlotte for Corey Maggette.

The pick is protected through the top eight in 2014. If the Pistons rally to make the playoffs, Charlotte gets the pick. If the Pistons do not qualify for the postseason, they might not know until the May 20 draft lottery what becomes of their 2014 first-rounder. They could pull a top-three pick and keep it or, if they go into the lottery with a top-eight pick but get leapfrogged by a team behind them and subsequently pushed out of the top eight, then Charlotte would get the pick.

The Pistons play three home games over the next four days, hosting Atlanta and Dallas in a Friday-Saturday back to back and then Golden State on Monday. After that, they’ll play 16 of their final 25 games on the road.