The Big Picture: Paul Silas takes the reins for the Bobcats tonight against the Detroit Pistons, one of the other most dysfunctional teams in the league. If you haven't been following the Pistons' ups and downs, the sharks are circling their coach, John Kuester, and it's looking more and more like Joe Dumars's championship-caliber teams of the mid-2000s are a thing of the past.
Consider: Detroit was in the Eastern Conference Finals six years in a row, with three different coaches, but since their core of Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince have all either declined or departed, Dumars has done a pretty poor job of replacing that lost talent. Yes, the Allen Iverson debacle stands out, but what could cripple this team for the next few years is the pair of signings Dumars made before last season, inking Charlie Villanueva for 5 years and $35 million, and Ben Gordon for 5 years and around $55 million. Now, I like both those players, in a "there's a place for them on any team in the league" kind of way, but paying those two guys $18 million this year (and escalating in subsequent years) is near lunacy.
And in a roundabout way, those two contracts illustrate why I'm happy Silas is in charge. It signals the possibility we're no longer going to be following the Dumars/Larry Brown path of overpaying for known-yet-uninspiring talent at the beginning of the success cycle -- we might never again confuse "final piece of the puzzle that puts us over the top" with "core building block".
We don't know if that's where we're headed, but now we can rightly hope for it.
Musical Interlude: Florence + the Machine -- "Dog Days Are Over"
Key to Victory: We ought to redefine "victory". Maybe we're not particularly concerned with a win from this game as much as we're concerned with seeking more knowledge and asking the right questions. Let's face it: we're not going to see as many wins as we might see if the current roster were fully leveraged in pursuit of that goal. However, in exchange, we might get a better idea of just how much Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown, Sherron Collins, and any other previously unexposed player might be able to help us.