With the NBA Playoffs continuing to unfold down in Orlando (they've been terrific despite defense being optional, IMO), it got me thinking about the NBA team based in southeast Michigan.  You know... the Detroit Pistons.

I know that the general sports fan in the Great Lakes State doesn't care a whole lot about the Pistons with the success of Michigan State and Michigan men's basketball over this generation (MSU during the Tom Izzo era, U-M in the last 10 years).  But they have an important offseason coming up, if for no other reason to alleviate the biggest problem surrounding the franchise, which I just alluded to...apathy.

I'm old enough to remember the building of the Bad Boys in the mid-1980's, and the subsequent NBA titles won in 1989 & 1990.  What a great squad built by general manager Jack McCloskey and coached by Hall of Famer Chuck "Daddy Rich" Daly.  Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, and "The Microwave", Vinnie Johnson were main cogs in that machine.

Sellout after sellout at the Pontiac Silverdome and then the Palace of Auburn Hills were the norm during those days.  But after they relinquished Eastern Conference supremacy to the Chicago Bulls in 1991, fans gradually went away.

They came back in the 2000's when Joe Dumars took over the personnel department.  He made a series of trades, free agent signings, and draft picks to build the team back to prominence.  That was capped off by the NBA Championship victory in 2004 over the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

But head coach Larry Brown left in 2005.  All-Star center Ben Wallace was gone the next year, and Dumars traded star Chauncey Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson early in the 2008-09 season.  The franchise has yet to recover from that trade to this day, IMO.  Fans went away again.

Now, the team plays before a half-empty Little Caesars Arena.  They are stuck in a netherworld of pro basketball.  Not good enough to contend for a title (or even a playoff berth), but not bad enough to get a top pick to rejuvenate the franchise (like Isiah Thomas).  And they have only one pick in the upcoming Draft (the 7th overall in the first round).

New GM Troy Weaver has his hands full trying to make this team relevant again.  They have a bloated contract ($37 million next season with a $39 million player option the following year) with injured former All-Star Blake Griffin (pictured above).  Point guard Derrick Rose had a very good season despite having more injuries, can he keep it going entering the final year of his deal?  Shooting guard Luke Kennard is good, but is a restricted free agent after next season, so what do you do with him?  And can they re-sign promising center Christian Wood longterm?

And do you even care either way?  And that's the biggest problem with the team.  Unless they are of Championship quality (or pretty damn close), the general public in Michigan doesn't care.  That's the number one thing that needs to be fixed within the franchise going forward.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed are of the author, and the author alone.  They do not necessarily reflect those of the management and staff of The Game 730 AM.

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