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Archive for the tag “Marcus Thornton”

Return To Sender

(photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP)

(photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP)

It was the chance for a fresh start and a new city. Donatas Motiejunas, Macus Thornton and Joel Anthony were getting ready to play for their new teams (Joel Anthony was traded to the Sixers with a second round pick after he was traded to the Rockets). It was going to be interesting to see how each piece fit where they ended up. But unfortunately, all three of these players will be returning to their former teams. The trade that was going to further shape the Pistons fell through once Motiejunas was not able to pass a physical due to his continued recovery from back surgery. The 7’ power forward had back surgery this past offseason and has had multiple setbacks trying to recover. Needless to say, he has not been on the court much at all this season. And the likelihood is he will not see the court at all this year either.

Joel Anthony will be returning to a team that will have a chance to make the playoffs this year. The Pistons still made one solid trade in getting forward Tobias Harris and it will be interesting to see if they can integrate him into what they do. The result of that trade getting voided is that Anthony goes back to ninth in the Eastern Conference instead of the last place team in the NBA. But you have to wonder what he feels like going back to the Pistons. After all, he has to look in the face of the guy who tried to trade him for the rest of the season potentially. There has to be some uneasy tension there. Many will say that Anthony has to be professional about it, but privately he has to wonder why he has to stay somewhere that the coach/president of basketball operations does not want him. Whether he thinks that or not, Anthony really has survived in the NBA longer than many thought he would. And to be truthful, there were a ton of people that forgot he was in the NBA anymore. After he was no longer a member of the Miami Heat, it seemed like his career went into oblivion. But there he stands and there he is, still getting a game check from the Pistons each time he is there on the bench or in uniform. And for that, he has to be thankful.

As far as Motiejunas, he has to feel some sort of way. He is a productive player when he is healthy, but he was given up despite the potential he has. He is still very young and is a very skilled young big man. So he has to be keeping his focus on getting healthy for either the rest of the season or the offseason. After all, the cap is going up and someone will take a chance on him provided he can pass a physical the next time. But one thing he and Thornton have to go back to is something they probably dread. The feeling in that locker room has to be uncomfortable. With the firing of head coach Kevin McHale early in the season and the team’s stars reportedly both trying to get each other traded, that has to be something that feels more like a circus than a basketball team. In Detroit, at least the feeling there was that they were building something. Motiejunas and Thornton would have been very good pieces on a Pistons team that was going to look like the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic team. But alas, all that is now a dream that Thornton and Motiejunas will have to just imagine for now. They are stuck in Houston for right now. And they both probably realize that the toxic environment there could lead to an interesting offseason. An offseason that could end up with both of them gone anyway.

Anthony is probably the more relieved of the bunch. He gets to stay with a team that could be on the rise. While Motiejunas and Thornton go back to somewhere they would probably like to escape. And meanwhile, that protected 2016 1st round pick the Rockets received in this trade gets returned to its sender. The reshaping of the team in Houston fell flat on its face as the Rockets were not able to move anyone via trade at all. And the NBA’s greatest drama team will continue to go on like an episode of The Haves and Have Nots, with Howard and Harden as the leading actors.

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The Detroit Pistons Get A 2008-2009 Orlando Magic Makeover

(photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

The Detroit Pistons have been measurably better this season. They are in contention for the playoffs and had seemingly found an identity with players like point guard Reggie Jackson and big man Andre Drummond. But even with those two, there was no assurances that this team would make it far. And going into the trade deadline, the Pistons were a team that could have been a buyer or a seller. They had some pieces that people were interested in with backup point guard Brandon Jennings and even forward Marcus Morris. But they also had players that they desired that were on the trade market. The onus was on head of basketball operations/head coach Stan Van Gundy to make it happen. Would he help his team get better or would he continue to stay the course with what he had while potentially dumping Jennings for something that would not help this team. Well, the trade deadline has come and gone and the Pistons appeared to be more buyers than sellers. And with that, they now are looking just like a team that Van Gundy coached in his past. The Detroit Pistons are now resembling a team that Van Gundy took to the NBA Finals once before, the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic.

The first move in this makeover that Van Gundy started was to move Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to the Orlando Magic for the services of Tobias Harris. The Pistons gave up a good backup point guard and a stretch forward in Ilyasova, but the move also gave the Pistons something they did not have. Harris was not doing as well in the system that Scott Skiles had in Orlando. But in Van Gundy’s system, he will be likely matched up with forward Marcus Morris in the frontcourt. Both of these guys can handle the basketball, shoot the three and make plays at the rim. But what Harris does better than Morris is make plays. His playmaking skills fit great on this team. What made the Orlando Magic so tough that season was the play of forward Hedo Turkoglu, who was handling the ball and making plays while shooting at an excellent clip from the three-point line. Harris is essentially filling that role on this team and with he and Marcus Morris, they both are the new Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu for Van Gundy. And with Harris handling the ball more, the Pistons just freed up point guard Reggie Jackson even more. But that was not the only move the Pistons made that allowed them to remake themselves.

The next move the Pistons made just made them even more versatile. The Pistons traded away seldom-used big man Joel Anthony to the Houston Rockets along with a top-eight protected first round pick. In return, the Pistons received versatile forward Donatas Montiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton. For a piece that was rarely used, the Pistons received two players that can definitely help Detroit. With Montiejunas, the Pistons get a big man with size that can shoot the three as well. Combine him with forward Anthony Tolliver coming off the bench, you now have two forwards with size and shooting ability that can stretch the floor coming off the bench. But the bonus in this trade has to be guard Marcus Thornton. The veteran guard can get hot at any time. And when he does, he can carry your team for stretches at a time. And he, along with Montiejunas, can spread the floor. Imagine these guys paired with Harris and Jackson at the helm making plays. That could be dangerous.

All these new pieces going along with the old pieces makes this team a dangerous threat because of the style they will be able to play. They now have pieces that can spread the floor and let Drummond have the entire paint to himself, just like Dwight Howard did when they went to the NBA Finals. Drummond will essentially be the new Dwight Howard (in a good way) for Van Gundy. And if someone is to help off their man to help their big against Drummond, then the Pistons can make them pay with the collection of shooters they have now. And also, the pick-and-roll offense is now even more dangerous because not only can they use Jackson and Drummond together, but they now can use Drummond with Harris like that. The onus will now be on the team’s stars to make it happen. But with what they have now, the Pistons are now armed to make a run in the Eastern Conference. And Van Gundy now has a team he thinks can make it happen. Not bad for a guy that inherited a team that was in such disarray when he got there in 2014.

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