Josh Smith was considered by most to be the second-best free agent on the market after Dwight Howard. Smith, a versatile, but enigmatic forward, inked a four-year, $54 million deal to complete a long, athletic front court. And, man, did Smith sound like he loved Detroit from the start.
"I didn't have any other options. This is the team I wanted to play for, so everything else I wasn't worried about," said Smith.
Brandon Jennings was acquired in a trade for Brandon Knight, who played admirably in two seasons with the Pistons. Jennings got three years, $24 million from Detroit to try and get the Pistons to the postseason.
"Things that I can bring to the table - just a lot of energy, of course I want to win, I've helped the Bucks get to the playoffs twice already," Jennings noted. "So, I just want to bring that winning mentality back into Detroit again."
Rasheed Wallace, who helped the Pistons win a world title in 2004, retired after an injury-plagued season with the New York Knicks. Cheeks brought him on board to be an assistant coach.
And the principal catalyst to Detroit's championship run from almost 10 years ago, Chauncey Billups, signed a very team-friendly deal to try and teach these young guys how to win ball games.
"I just feel like if I can come back here and try to help lead some of these young guys, lead the team back to respectability, I think that's a big, big deal," said Billups.
This new group will play alongside Greg Monroe, a talented big man, and Andre Drummond, a talented even bigger man. The Pistons drafted Kentavious Caldwell- Pope, considered by some to be the best two guard in the draft.
There is plenty of talent in Detroit and improvement is expected. It might take time to fully integrate the new personnel and a good start will be needed.
Almost any start will be better than last season's 0-8 beginning.
2012-13 Results: 29-53, 4th in Central; Missed playoffs.
ADDITIONS: HC Mo Cheeks, F Josh Smith, G Brandon Jennings, G Chauncey Billups, G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G Peyton Siva, F Luigi Datome
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Brandon Jennings SG- Chauncey Billups SF- Josh Smith PF- Greg Monroe C- Andre Drummond
KEY RESERVES: G Rodney Stuckey, G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G Will Bynum, F Kyle Singler, F Charlie Villanueva, C Josh Harrellson, F Jonas Jerebko, F Luigi Datome
FRONTCOURT: This group is incredibly big and long.
Smith carries career averages of 15.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.1 bpg and 1.3 spg. He is incredibly talented, but can grate on a coach. His 28 percent three-point shooting average is pathetic, but it doesn't stop him from jacking up long-range bombs. Smith attempted a career-best 2.6 three-point attempts a game last season. If Cheeks and Wallace can contain Smith to some degree, he'll be a huge asset. Smith is a plus-defender when he wants to be and a great help defender.
Monroe has averaged 15.7 ppg and 9.6 rpg over the past two seasons. He's played in and started every game but one during that time frame. The Pistons have been tough to watch over the last two seasons, but Monroe hasn't. He's a potential All Star and is a free agent at the end of the season, so a monster year is very possible.
Drummond looked dynamic at points in his rookie campaign. He got derailed by injuries, but posted respectable numbers of 7.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg. Drummond made the All-Rookie second team and he exceeded expectations in season one. Can he duplicate those stats, or improve on them in season two? His development is crucial to Detroit's success.