January 7, 2014 at 1:00 am

Terry Foster

Three big players are failing to keep Pistons pumping

Greg Monroe posts up well and plays a finesse power game, but it isn't translating into success. (Clarence Tabb Jr. / Detroit News)

Auburn Hills — Maurice Cheeks is in a tough spot.

He coaches a team whose parts don’t fit, and he said Monday he doesn’t know what to do.

Here’s the solution.

Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are fine players. The thing is, they don’t work well together. Why? They’re at their best inside the paint — Drummond attacks the rim and dunks; Monroe likes to post up and play a finesse/power game; and Smith is best facing the bucket.

So, Cheeks has two options.

■He can ask Pistons president Joe Dumars to trade one of the three.

■He can bring one of them off the bench.

Option 2 is a tougher sell than No. 1. Smith makes more money than anybody else on the team, Monroe wants to get paid more, and Drummond is considered to be the future of the franchise.

So, if you can’t make a trade, the best bet is to have Drummond come off the bench.

One half not enough

When Smith was asked the question as to whether the pieces can fit together, his answer was short.

“It’s proven to happen,” he said. “Thank you.”

He’s right. It works — but only short term.

It worked at Miami and at Indiana — both Detroit wins.

But usually, it only works for a half. They run the court fluidly for one half, then become selfish.

Smith has said the problem is the three players don’t communicate defensively enough. And that’s a problem considering assistant Rasheed Wallace is always screaming for the bigs to communicate.

“When those guys are on the floor, we use those guys in the paint in the first half,” Cheeks said. “I don’t know why it should be any different in the second half.”

Something must change

But here’s another problem.

The Pistons don’t have enough consistent outside shooting to made the inside trio effective.

Smith just went through a stretch where he was unstoppable inside. So teams adjusted by double-teaming him and daring teammates to hit open jumpers.

They didn’t.

And they don’t.

Simply, something has to change the next few weeks.

Sure, the Pistons are still in the playoff hunt, but you would assume some of the bottom-feeders in the East will figure things out and make a run and push Detroit to the brink.

Cheeks, however, said he is not willing to bench one of the big three.

“Nothing is written in stone,” he said. “I have not thought about that seriously.”

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