Is the Honeymoon over in Detroit for Troy Weaver?

Last season it seemed like nearly everything Troy Weaver touched turned to gold. By midseason Weaver had nearly turned over 100% of the roster he inherited (Sekou Doumbouya was the only man left standing), two of his mid round #1 picks had cemented themselves as key rotation players, and his free agent signings that had been mostly panned by the media as overpays were looking like bargains. Yes the team was losing a lot of games, but they were playing highly competitive games nearly every night they took the court. For the first time in years Pistons fans were optimistic about the future of this team. That excitement reached its peak when the ping pong balls fell our way in the draft lottery and the Pistons landed the #1 overall pick and drafted Cade Cunningham.

The Pistons headed into the '21/22 offseason with nearly $12M in cap space and 8 players under contract (Plumlee, Stewart, Okafor, Grant, Doumbouya, Bey, Jackson, Hayes) plus Cunningham's upcoming rookie contract. On draft night Weaver sent Mason Plumlee and the 37th overall pick to the Hornets for the 57th pick in order to clear Plumlee's 8.3M salary from the books and give the Pistons around $20M in cap space.

Here is what Weaver did with that cap space

Signed Free agent Kelly Olynyk for 3yrs @ $13M average per year (3rd year team option)
Signed Free Agent Trey Lyles for 2 years @ $2.5M per year (2nd year team option)
Brought back Frank Jackson for 2yrs @ $3M per year (2nd year team option)
Brought back Saben Lee ofr 3yrs @ $5M total ($1.5M in '21-22) (2nd year team option)
Signed 2nd rounder Isiah Livers to an above slot deal for 3yrs @ $4.5M total ($1M in '21-22)

After spending the cap space Weaver made the following moves

Used the MLE to bring back Coey Joseph for 2 years @ $5M per year (2nd year player option)
Used early bird rights to bring back Hami Diallo for 2 years @ $5M per year (2nd year team option)
Used the veteran minumum exception to sign Rodney McGruder for 1 year @ $1.7M
Traded Sekou Doumbouya and Jahlil Okafor to Brooklyn for DeAndre Jordan, $6M in cash, and four #2 picks
Converted Luka Garzas contract to a standard NBA minimum contract for 2 years.

Needless to say this season has not went as planned. The Pistons are not only still losing, but far too often the games have been blowouts. Detroit was not expected to compete for a playoff spot this season, but they were hoping to see more positive progress/development in their young core players and to keep playing good competive basketball. After 10 games the Pistons had what would be the worst offensive rating in NBA history, they have major trouble defending the paint, and many of their younger players that shined last season are struggling to get on track this year. A recent injury to key free agent signee Kelly Olynyk has left a huge void up front and the Pistons do not have the depth to make up for his loss. Unfortunately they majorly lack trade options until 12/15 so it may be a while until they can add some reinforcements unless they choose to cut a player and sign a big off the free agent list.

Fans are begining to question the Pistons roster construction and some of the moves Troy has made. The Sekou Doumbouya trade was wildly unpopular with the fan base. Weaver taking on DeAndre Jordans 2 year contract then buying out & releasing him with minimal savings next year (when the team is expected to have near max contract cap space) was not very well received in Motown. His decision to bring back Rodney McGruder and give Cory Joseph a 2 year deal for the MLE were also panned by many.

Weaver's approval rating is still very high (and well deserved) with fans but his days of having the Pistons faithful being on board with all his decisions have likely come to an end. Its still "In Troy we trust" here in the Motor City, but its now on Weaver and his brain trust to make sure it stays that way.


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