BOSTON – Do the Detroit Pistons hold each other accountable?
“No,” Brandon Jennings said directly.
The Pistons’ faint playoff hopes are disintegrating. With a 118-111 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Detroit has lost three straight, seven of eight and 10 of 12. The Atlanta Hawks lead the Pistons by three games with 19 remaining for Detroit.
Jennings indicated he still believes Maurice Cheeks wasn’t the Pistons problem, and the team’s record before and after the coach’s firing supports that notion. The Pistons, who were 24-38 (.387) under Cheeks, have gone just (.231) under interim coach John Loyer.
“Trust,” Jennings said. “Just trusting each other, guys willing to sacrifice for one another. I think that’s just the main thing, trust and sacrifice.
“With good teams, somebody sees somebody messing up, then you tell them. Straight up.”
As Jennings tells it, there’s no healthy player in the locker room who does that anymore.
Jennings said Chauncey Billups held players accountable when he was healthy, but Billups has missed the Pistons’ last 13 games and 24 of 25 due to injury.
“Preaching every night, like, ‘If you want to be great, we’ve got to hold each other accountable. If he ain’t doing this, if he ain’t doing that, take him out.’ That’s what he was mostly preaching,” Jennings said. “He’s kind of been away with the injuries and stuff like, so it’s been kind of quiet.”
Why hasn’t the team’s starting point guard taken the responsibility?
“It’s never really been in my character to call guys out,” Jennings said. “I’m more just show them by example.”
Fair enough, though the Pistons probably should have paid closer attention to Jennings’ personality when they acquired him this summer. Leadership often naturally falls to the point guard, and when he’s not willing or able to accept that responsibility, the fallout can be difficult for everyone to manage.
Other natural leaders are often teams’ highest-paid and/or most-used players.
Asked how the Pistons would respond to Smith – the Pistons’ highest-paid player and minutes leader – leading, Jennings implied he hadn’t seen that.
“I don’t know,” Jennings said. “I think he is like the franchise guy, so he has that right if you ask me.”
Smith seems to understand that. When he signed with the Pistons in July, he said: “I just see myself just trying to fill that leadership role, being able to be vocal.”