New York — The trade winds have begun to blow in the NBA, with the first blow tearing apart what’s left of a Chicago Bulls team still reeling without Derrick Rose.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers getting better with the acquisition of former Bulls forward Luol Deng and trading away Andrew Bynum, they’ve become yet another team that’s behind the struggling Pistons but seemingly ready to make positive strides.
And that means the Pistons should have been on high alert entering Tuesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against a New York Knicks team that’s beginning to find its way, ever so slowly.
The Knicks’ crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, are winners of three straight and just a game behind the 14-20 Pistons for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, although the season isn’t quite halfway over.
The Pistons are certainly paying attention to what’s happened thus far and what could happen going forward. The trade season has essentially just begun with the dawn of the calendar year.
Most of the Pistons pay attention to league moves and even the most unfathomable rumors, so they’re not oblivious to what’s occurring around them.
“Nowadays with social media and stuff like that, you randomly surf the internet and look at your timeline and see stuff like that,” Pistons forward Greg Monroe said before Tuesday’s game. “I don’t really process it until it’s time to play those teams.
“I see Luol’s in Cleveland and right now it’s about New York, then Toronto, then Philly. I see it but I’m not really focused on it right now.”
With Deng being an All-star for a young Cavaliers team in need of some veteran stability, the Cavaliers could improve and move into playoff contention.
“We’re in a tough stretch but still in good position right now,” Monroe said. “Especially with the way the East is, you win a few games and you’re back in a real good place. That’s what we have to focus on. ... We focus on ourselves and we’ll be good.”
The last time the Pistons won three in a row was one month ago today, when they conquered their demons in Chicago, blowing out the Bulls in the second half on the way to a 92-75 win. It seems so long ago that win brought the Pistons to the .500 mark at 10-10, but things have spiraled downhill from that point.
“We have to do it (turn things around) despite what’s going on,” Monroe said. “We can play a lot better than we have been. It doesn’t matter what’s going on around the league. We should be better.”
Having given up over 110 points per game in their last six losses, the Pistons have plenty of debris to clean up internally before beginning to fret about outside transactions.
“We have to try to find ourselves regardless of what’s going on,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “You obviously take a look (at the standings) but we have to find our way before looking at someone else.”
Having lost so many fourth-quarter leads, if the Pistons spend too much time regretting their defeats they could find themselves looking behind teams they should be ahead of.
“You can’t go back. Things happen, they happen, you can only look from this day forward,” reserve guard Will Bynum said. “The East is so up in the air, anything can happen. We definitely have a good opportunity.”