May 03, 2011
The headline that rests atop the newspaper article I'm basing this on, "A solid year for Pistons, Palace Sports & Entertainment," is a wee bit misleading.
Overall, this may have been a workable year for the company that runs the Palace of Auburn Hills. I'm sure the Kid Rock show went over well, and former owner Karen Davidson did manage to sell the team to Los Angeles-based (and Michigan-born) financier Tom Gores (both are pictured above).
But the Pistons? Oh, they stunk.
They were capped-out, and still stunk. No rebuilding unit, this, the Pistons had three players making eight figures in salary during 2010-11, they were just five million dollars short of the luxury tax threshold, and they still managed to eke out just 30 wins. On top of that, this was easily the league's nastiest locker room, as coach John Kuester never gained the respect of a team that seemed ready to walk out on him at any moment. Also, assets moving forward? Save for rookie Greg Monroe(notes), Pistons boss Joe Dumars doesn't really have any. No cap space, no batch of draft picks, and no real players that anyone wants.
And the latest bad news, the cherry on this sundae of stink? The Pistons finished 18th in attendance last season.
That might not seem like such a big deal for a team that probably ranked in the low 20s amongst 30 teams, but this Pistons team used to fill that place regularly. Even when the Pistons were just on the outskirts of the playoffs, early last decade, the team still sold out the Palace of Auburn Hills regularly. And this was nine years ago, when things weren't exactly rosy on the economic front in Michigan or anywhere else.
Despite several franchises losing money last season, NBA attendance is still on the up and up. And for a Pistons team that used to rake attendees in even when things weren't going all that well to drop from near the top to 18th? This is telling. This community has tuned out this team in ways that can't be explained by the dwindling population in the city of Detroit, or the area's depressed economic state. That would result in a drop, no doubt, but not this far.
Tom Gores, presuming he wants to build a winner as opposed to building a sellable asset, has a lot of work ahead of him.