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Detroit Pistons

People are talking about the Pistons? Really?

Starting Five: PG Brandon Jennings, SG Rodney Stuckey, SF Josh Smith, PF Greg Monroe, C Andre Drummond


Key Bench Players: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, PG Chauncey Billups, PG Luigi Datome, G/F Kyle Singler


Notable offseason additions: Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Chauncy Billups, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Luigi Datome


Notable offseason subtractions: PG Jose Calderon, PG Brandon Knight, PF Jason Maxiell

FACT OR FICTION: With the additions of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, the Pistons will earn a playoff spot in the East.
FACT. This team looks much different from last year, and, before we get into why or what that means, lets just understand that different is better for Detroit. Last year was ugly. Heading into the 2012-13 season, the Pistons had 1.5 NBA caliber players on the roster in Greg Monroe and Tayshaun Prince (Prince doesn’t weigh enough to count as 1 player). The hope was that Andre Drummond would prove to be NBA caliber too. Well, Drummond struggled with some back problems, but he certainly showed plenty of potential. Then he dominated the Summer League, posting 15.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 2.0 blocks while shooting 51.2% (generally, summer league stats are worth little, but as a Pistons fan I’m allowed to say things like “Did you see Drummond this summer? Incredible. Definitely having a breakout season, 25/15 at least. The Pistons are so exciting, you gotta watch. Probably the 3 seed in the East”). So back in July, even with Prince gone and Jose Calderon in Dallas, the Pistons already had two NBA caliber players. Wild.… Read more...

(Not So) Instant Trade Analysis: Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons get: PG Brandon Jennings (three years, $24 million)
Milwaukee Bucks get: PG Brandon Knight, F Khris Middleton, C Viecheslav Kravtov
(Writing about basketball in damn near August is always hard. But writing about two teams from the Midwest that haven’t played since mid-April? Buzz’s girlfriend, woof. So to help, we contacted friend of the blog and proud Detroit Pistons fan, The Source, to help us decode a really interesting deal with no clear winner. At least in our eyes here at MAMBINO. Below is his thoughts, along with mine)
The Source: My basic thoughts? Brandon Pettigrew is committed to fitness now, and is working hard to cleanup his drops and fumbles from last year. A productive TE, plus Reggie Bush, and maybe a decent to below-average #2 WR is all we need to get Calvin some space.

Veras adds depth to a bullpen that really needed it. If Benoit keeps the closer role, which he seems to have embraced, then the Tigers will have two reliable, late-inning relievers in Smyly and Veras. Phil Coke just can’t cut it. And Iglesias gives us more range at SS (our starters will be happy), some above average speed (of which, we had almost none), and Peralta will be juicing at home soon rather than in the clubhouse so we needed a steady infielder for the next 50 games.
In the same week the city of Detroit announced its bankruptcy, a state board approved plans for a new hockey arena, which will cost tax payers almost $300 million. OK, Detroit.
Oh and the Pistons…..
Adding Jennings to Smith and Monroe, the Pistons now have 3 starting lefties so opposing lineups will have to….
We needed a PG. Calderon is gone, Stuckey is bad, and Knight is gone and bad. Billups isn’t there to play a ton of minutes. When you look up Brandon Jennings on ESPN, one of the first things you see is “#3 PG.” That’s a win right there. By the numbers, Jennings is a better scorer and passer, and he averages almost a steal per game more than Knight. The shooting percentages are similar but Jennings has the edge from the line and he’s got this cool tattoo that looks like a necklace.… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Josh Smith to the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons get: F Josh Smith on a four year, $56 million dollar contract
J-Smoove finally got his big money deal yesterday, though perhaps not the maximum salary that he so openly sought. After days of rumors that Detroit GM Joe Dumars wanted to add Smith to a fearsome frontcourt rotation of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, the forward joined the Pistons for an average annual paycheck of $14 million.
Detroit had cut payroll throughout the season to find the money for a substantial free agent this summer, including shipping out longtime SF Tayshaun Prince and paying the price of a first round draft pick to get rid of Ben Gordon’s $13 million dollars for next year. To Dumars’ credit, he was able to strip down the team to not only have money for a max contract player this summer, as well as next year when he’ll have roughly $27 million dollars in cap room. To Dumars’ discredit, the mess of a roster he had to clean up was composed of signings of his doing, including gigantic missteps in the way of Charlie Villanueva, Gordon, Prince and Rodney Stuckey. … Read more...

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Kwame Brown

(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
Contract: 2 years, $6 million
Signed by:
Philadelphia 76ers
Salary this season: $3 million
2013 Slash Line: 1.9/3.4/0.4 in 22 games
Expires: 2014
If you’ve ever seen Kwame Brown in person, you’ll know this same, overwhelming feeling I’m about to describe. As your eyes wander through the pregame lay-up lines trying to find the former number one overall pick, you’ll easily spot this gargantuan human being. All of 7 feet, 270 pounds, Kwame is built like a Greek statue. Though he’s become less of a specimen into his early thirties, Brown is still chiseled from head to toe. Most 7 footers are these gangly human train wrecks that look more like a random consortium of misappropriated body parts than anything a x and y chromosome could make. However, Brown resembles more of an over-sized professional wrestler than a willow tree—a fully filled out 7 feet tall. His arms are like the longest, most intricately detailed black marble you’ve seen in your life, which seem to be at odds with the design of his lower body. His legs are like two distinguished tree trunks, perfect for boxing out and destroying any opposing rebounder or defender that dare come at him in the paint. The only knock on Kwame’s anatomy are his curiously small hands that would look more suitable on a man one or two feet his subordinate. Overall, I always leave an in-person Kwame Brown experience thinking “if I had seen this guy when he was 18 years old, there’d be no doubt in my mind he’d be a star.” In this case, The 20/20 Experience is more than just an album full of jams.
There’s no doubt that Kwame Brown deserves a spot in this illustrious post series. In fact, he might be the charter member of the Bad NBA Contract of the Week Hall of Fame. But what I’m trying to say is that as much as I’m about to eviscerate Brown and any foolish manager that would sign him…I probably would have made the same mistake. But maybe not four times over.… Read more...

Live Report from London…YOUR New York Knicks!

(A live report from MAMBINO correspondent Sip Rogers, an expatriate New York Knicks fan who lives and works in London. He attended the Knicks-Pistons game on Thursday night at the O2 arena on the Eastside of town. Here’s his firsthand recap)
Just got back from the NBA’s first regular season game in London and to sum it up, it was amazing. 
First a little actual basketball talk. The Knicks played well in a 102-87 win, outclassing the Pistons most of the game, including a 15 point lead at halftime. As they game wore on, they were able to stifle any runs the Pistons had in them, mostly from Will Bynum (and man, can that guy can drive). 

Iman Shumpert finally is back for the Knicks, giant flat top in tow. He started the game, which was surprising for his return. He ended up scoring 8 points in 15 minutes.  Amar’e had 17 in 20 minutes, but the quietest 17 I’ve seen in awhile. There wasn’t too much to the actual game itself; it was a blowout against the Pistons, whose best player is Greg Monroe and the most explosive guard is Will Bynum.  
As for the event in London, the NBA, Knicks and Pistons did a great great job.  As hard as it is to believe, it actually felt like a real NBA game.  They fixed the courtside seats problem from the Olympics, as in, now there were floor seats (whereas during the summer, spectators were so far away from the court that the camera angle made it appear as if no one was watching live). The O2 arena was sold out and rocking. The crowd remained into the game the whole time and was, to my delight,  very pro-Knicks.  There were a decent chunk of expats (but less than I expected) and plenty of Euros in attendance. However, what surprised me most was a really good amount of Brits were wearing Knicks gear, cheering the Knicks and talking basketball.  Stunning, really. This is a city as big as New York, so I’m not surprised that there are NBA fans hiding but…I don’t know where they have been as long as I’ve lived here. After all, there are a ton of English Premiere League fans in the Mecca, but I’m not sure where they hide out. People aren’t talking about Robin Van Persie on the corner of 51st and Lexington, right? 
Certainly a great sign for the NBA that so many Brits were actual fans.  The NFL classically has the issue with their game in London, no matter who is playing. They have a hard time hocking 80,000 seats even with 80,000 expats living in Europe. The NBA seems to have dodged that already.
A couple of nice touches: the Knicks brought along their organ player from MSG, which made the O2 sound even more like a game at the Garden.  The Pistons brought along their announcer, because after all, it was a Detroit home game. Was nice to hear the sounds of “Deeeeetttrrooooooiiiitttt Baaaaassssskeeeetttbaaaallll” echoing through the arena.  Spike Lee made the trip across the pond, sitting courtside next to Baron Davis.  Plenty of Premier League soccer players in the crowd; Ashley Cole, Thierry Henry, Joe Cole and our favorite American Clint Dempsey…who of course sat next to the Knicks bench with a dime piece.

The whole event was really well done and a way more authentic experience than I originally thought it would be.  Kudos to the NBA. 

BTW, no sign of Dolan, I scoured the crowd for him. I guess JD and the Straight Shot doesn’t travel across international waters.Read more...

The Worst NBA Team You’ve Seen So Far

(Yesterday, I took a poll from the MAMBINO crew asking who the worst team they’ve seen this year was. The answers I got were the following two teams that have performed the most joyless form of basketball. I happened to agree whole-heartedly. And wept uncontrollably. Tears of blood.)

The Detroit Pistons

There’s no doubt in my mind that the 0-5 Pistons are the worst squad in the league, even this early in the season. Only one player has registered a double double, which would be burgeoning star Greg Monroe. More impressively, one of those was actually a triple-double, a career first. Against the lowly Sacramento Kings. In a Detroit loss. But other than that, he’s getting zero help; no one else on the team has registered more than 10 rebounds or scored more than 20 points. In fact, the team has shot just 43% over five games and ranks 28th in points per 100 possessions.

The rest of the starters are truly the unit that’s sinking the Pistons. Second year man Brandon Knight has a really nice looking stroke, but that’s it, quite frankly. He’s only got 2 assists to every turnover he commits, and not even that can truly capture how poorly he sets up his teammates for quality shots. He’s a wretched shooter in general, which is super duper convenient for the Pistons, considering he’s taking 10 shots a night and is Monroe’s main pick and roll partner. His backcourt mate Rodney Stuckey has been especially terrible in a nightmare first week for the Pistons. Detroit’s starting shooting guard is 8 for 46 to start the year, a staggering 17% from the field. But it’s not like Stuckey is shooting poorly because he hasn’t made a three pointer or is just taking long, contested two-point shots. He’s shooting less than 20% from every single area on the floor. Good to know he’s not discriminating against the hardwood. Luckily for Stuckey, he still has a 3:1 assist to turnover ration and is still making free throws (84% on 16 shots), so at least he’s doing the right things to…help his team lose.

Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell are fine players still, but both are past their prime and should be coming off some team’s bench at this point. What’s really shocking about the Pistons is about how little they seem to care about defending, especially considering how athletic the majority of their players are. There was a moment after a breakaway lay-up by the Lakers the other night that none of the Detroit starters got back on defense. Lawrence Frank immediately called for all five players to be replaced at once, a really stunning indication for a young team that should play with a lot of energy. In the games I’ve seen, the Pistons play like a lottery team in game #78…not a young team with up and coming prospects in game #5.

Looking at the bench, they’re the mismatched bag of parts we thought they’d be to start the season: young and inexperienced prospects with potential, tied with bust lottery picks and washed up veterans. Their 2012 first rounder Andre Drummond has shown flashes of why he was once considered a future #1 overall pick…and also why he slid all the way to the 9th selection last June. He’s all of 7 feet, 270 pounds, but throws his body around the court like he’s an indestructible Allen Iverson in his prime. On two different possessions against the Lakers last Sunday, I saw Drummond lounge towards the rim going for a lay-in or a rebound, only to miss and fall to the hardwood. He bounced right back up (partially becau… Read more...

What’s the Biggest Problem? – Detroit Pistons Preview

 (Here’s a lil’ Deeeeeeeee-troit Pistons preview from our man The Source. He’s one of the last remaining Detroit Pistons fans, wearing his colors proud and his tears heavy. Take a look at his MAMBINO debut!)

Starting Five: PG Rodney Stuckey, PG Brandon Knight, SF Tayshaun Prince, PF Jason Maxiell, C Greg Monroe

Key Bench Players: G Will Bynum, SF Corey Maggette, PF Jason Maxiell, C Andre Drummond

Notable offseason additions: SF Corey Maggette, C Andre Drummond (9th overall pick)

Offseason subtractions: G Ben Gordon, C Ben Wallace

Let’s be honest: there isn’t much to be excited about. The best thing the Pistons have going for them right now is an 18 year old kid with clearly no chance of being NBA-ready by Halloween and who shoots 28% from the FT line. Seriously – he shoots 28% from the FT line! But with an adolescent head coach and a newly over-the-hill Corey Maggette, Andre Drummond is really all we’ve got.

Since Christmas, the only thing Piston fans have genuinely been excited about was the day we finally got rid of our best shooter. Ben Gordon was so bad for us, and so overpaid, we had to throw in a first round pick just to get Charlotte to take him off our hands. We landed Maggette in return, who no one is excited about, but after this season the move saves Joe Dumars somewhere around $10 million. I can support that. 

Unfortunately, the other travesty of the 2009 summer, the horrific signing of Charlie Villanueva, continues to haunt us. I guess you could argue he earned his $7.5 million last year with that gaudy stat line he threw up: 7.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG in 13.8 minutes/game. All with no eyebrows, mind you.Villanueva really isn’t the problem though. He would be, but Lawrence Frank doesn’t play Charlie V enough for him to live up to the cancer-to-your-teamhype that KG labeled him with. So what’s the real issue? No go-to guy? Lack of talent? Missing pieces? Inexperience?

Well, those are all the real issue. The roster the Pistons roster is not very impressive. Look at the point guards: Stuckey, Knight, Bynum. Now look at our shooting guards: Stuckey, Knight, and Kim English. See the problem here? The backcourt is incomplete and it’s time everyone stops acting like “combo guards” are good things. Stuckey can score, so can Knight, and Bynum is a speedy driver who is good for 12-15 minutes each night. But none of them can shoot and Stuckey and Knight both averaged less than 4 assists per game last year. So now we’ve got a starting PG (Knight) who doesn’t distribute well and a starting SG (Stuckey) who can’t shoot. But hey! You can switch them back and forth and get the same production!

Kim English is a rookie from Missouri who might actually be helpful if he can be the NBA shooter we are hoping for. If he can put up 40% from the 3-point line, then the Pistons will have….one guy who can shoot 40% from the 3-point line. There just isn’t much hope for the backcourt this year. Stuckey and Knight are pretty good players but they aren’t the guys who lead a team. They don’t complement each other the way Rip and Chauncey once did back there.

As you move down the depth chart it doesn’t get any better. There is a log jam of mediocre players vying for the small forward spot. Of course, we’ll keep it reserved for Tayshaun Prince because he was a big part of the ’04 championship team so we have to act like we still like him. Truthfully, Prince isn’t really very good at anything: his defense is overrated these days, he still can’t shoot well, and, for some reason, the frailest guy in t


Instant Trade Analysis: Ben Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte Bobcats get: G Ben Gordon, 2013 Lottery protected first round pick

Detroit Pistons get: G/F Corey Maggette

On the surface, this looks like the classic “I’ll take your problem if you take my problem” bad contract swap. How could it not be? Corey Maggette has been a cap-killing, ball-stopping, shoot-first offensive threat and defensive succubus for years. Ben Gordon is newer to that label, but has fallen into disgrace after dropping 20 points a game off the bench for the Chicago Bulls before signing a massive five-year, $50 million dollar pact with the Detroit Pistons three years ago.

Both started off as significantly different types of players: Maggette as an athletic swingman whose combination of strength, size and shooting ability were supposed to turn him into the prototypical All-Star small forward of the future, while Gordon a offensive spark plug off the bench – think like a faster JJ Barea with a better stroke and athleticism. However, as I just mentioned, both men have morphed into the same type of garbagey cap ballast every GM has come to resent.

With a swap of the two, Maggette will fight for minutes on a Detroit team largely going nowhere. Aside from Greg Monroe and supposedly Brandon Knight, the rather unimpressive Pistons’ core will keep them languishing in basketball purgatory – not good enough to contend for a playoff spot, but not bad enough to effectively rebuild. Detroit seemingly can no longer do anything right, including the legendary defense that brought them a title, but haven’t gone back to since Chauncey Billups left town. Even going to Ben Wallace’s tomb, exhuming his body and letting the Lawrence Frank operate inside of it like some sort of creepy organic exo-skeleton hasn’t helped any. Maggette’s complete allergy to defense, passing and any other semblance of basketball fundamentals will fit in well with a Pistons team that has shown no effort to do the same. The upside to the trade for Detroit is that Maggette’s $11 million deal will expire after this season, while they would have owed Gordon over $25 for two seasons.

Ben Gordon, even in going to the team that just settled on the worst winning percentage of all-time, might be in a slightly better situation. Quite simply, the Bobcats need someone to put the ball in the hoop. Young players like Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo are still learning how to acclimate to the NBA game, and as underrated as SG Gerald Henderson is, he’s not the type of player to carry a team. Charlotte now has a scorer who may not be dependable in Gordon, but surely has a lot more rounds in the chamber than Corey Maggette; last season, Gordon went for 20 points seven times, including a 45-point outburst in March.  In that sense, the trade is a bit of a win for the Bobcats, in that they acquired a player that, while overpaid, can still produce at times.

For the Pistons, who will start their fifth season of rebuilding in November, giving up a first-rounder, no matter how lottery protected, might be a mistake. Next year the selection won’t go to the Bobcats if it’s in the top 14, top 8 after that, top 1 after that and then in 2015, unprotected. At this point with Joe Dumars still at the helm of the Pistons, I’d expect nothing better than a bottom 14 finish in 2014. Optimistically, the Pistons will make the playoffs on the development of their young players, and losing an upcoming pick won’t matter as much. Pessimistically, and perhaps more realistically, they essentially will h… Read more...

WWE for an NBA Fan – Central Divison (Part 3)

The Central Division is the worst in the NBA. Even if all the marquee free agents were evenly distributed amongst Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee and Detroit, at best this would be the second worst in the league, ahead of the hapless Atlantic Division. We’re potentially looking at 5 teams in which only 1 might make the playoffs. For all of our hoophead brothers in the Midwest, I can see how a once-nuclear winter has now only morphed into a just a really, really long one.

So why would you follow exclusively the predictable and inevitably disappointing journey to a 8th seed playoff team and a 4 game sweep by the vengeful Heat, when you could instead follow the scripted greatness of the WWE?

In the next of my 6-part series, here are the best possible comparisons I could come up with for these 5 NBA fan bases. I matched up the characteristics that defined, say, Deeeee-troit basketball with the professional wrestler that best personified the culture and history of these storied teams.

Cleveland Cavaliers
WWE Comparable: Santino Marella

The Cavaliers are coming off an unbelievable run that included the best record in the NBA and a Finals appearance. This was, without argument, the greatest stretch in Cleveland sports history in the last 10 years, and with the 2-time American champion Indians of the 90s, one of the greatest squads since Jim Brown’s Cleveland Browns teams in the 1960’s.

But then came The Decision. Without the need to rehash old history here, the hapless Cavaliers limped through the 2010-2011 season to 19 wins and 63 losses, while setting the record for longest losing streak in NBA history. I can’t even define this as adding insult to injury; this is like a roast at a Holocaust memorial. Just terrible. Like that line.

So Cleveland, for you I’d prescribe a WWE Superstar that will be entertaining, but not nearly important enough for any potential investment and emotional distress. The 2011-2012 season isn’t going to be much better than last year – even with the addition of Omri Casspi, rookies Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, this will be a largely undersized squad with two vets (Antawn Jamison and Baron Davis) that likely won’t be there before the trade deadline is up. Cleveland, what you need is someone to give you a few lighter moments in yet another season of despair. You need someone to keep you laughing while your basketball team is going to murder your heart…again. You need Santino Marella.

Santino Marella is an undersized professional wrestler from Canada masquerading as a Italian import. He was dubbed the “Milan Miracle” in his entrance to the WWE for his early upset victories over established Superstar Chris Masters during an European tour. He went on to hold the Intercontinental title but despite all his success, everything that Marella has accomplished during his time in the WWE has been done with a humorous slant. Though I cannot deny my own love and admiration for Santino as a performer, the truth is that his holding of any title while playing his clownish, arrogant and smart-alec character only devalues that championship. He is a man who plays for laughs and when he’s not performing a match for comedy, is proficient enough in the ring to look like something of an actual fighter. After all, this is his finishing move.

You need someone to invest in with measured expectations Cleveland. At least for a few years. Here’s your man. Have fun. And only fun.

Indiana Pacers
WWE Comparable: Rey Mysterio

A couple years ago, ESPN’s 30 for 30 … Read more...

Burning Question #17: When will Joe Dumars be fired?

Why is this even a question?

I’m still not sure how the 2004 Pistons beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. It’s been over 7 1/2 years and even after two titles, I’m still a bit bitter and perplexed as to how it happened. The denial runs deep. But what I do know for certain is that Joe Dumars, former star guard and two-time champion with the Pistons, was the General Manager and primary architect of that 2004 title team. What’s amazing is that he built his team quite unlike any other champion in the last 30 years. The sport is built for to duos leading the way towards titles (Magic and Kareem, Shaq and Kobe, Robinson and Duncan, Michael and Scottie, Bird and McHale and so forth). Though not as common, even a single player can be turned into a June parade, as we’ve seen with Hakeem and Dirk, while surrounded by quality role players performing at the peak of their abilities.

What Dumars did was one of the biggest aberrations in a sport where there are few exceptions to the rule. He assembled a team representative of what is the most lauded quality of basketball – the fact that it is the truest example of team sports. Dumars took a bunch of spare pieces and managed to make no singular player more important than the sum of the parts. When you look back on every champion team since the early 80’s, you can point a player on a title team and say “that was HIS team”. The 2004 Detroit Pistons are the ONLY exception.

How did Dumars do this? He signed future NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups as a free agents and made a very shrewd trade for Rip Hamilton for a near-the-end of his prime Jerry Stackhouse. He manufactured a sign-and-trade agreement for a departing Grant Hill and managed to turn him into an undrafted young center named Ben Wallace. He took Tayshaun Prince with a late pick in the 2002 draft. He turned Bob Sura and some draft picks into Rasheed Wallace. All these moves were met with little fanfare and the best possible result. After 2004, Dumars kept the momentum going, sending the Pistons to another 4 Eastern Conference Finals by drafting guys like Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey and signing Antonio McDyess.

I bring this history lesson to the forefront to illustrate why Joe Dumars still has his job. He has arguably been one of the worst GMs in the league the previous 4 NBA seasons.

After the aforementioned 2004 core aged and slowly disbanded, Dumars has made a series of confusing moves and universally criticized signings. Chief amongst them was using valuable cap room to pay over $20 million annually for Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, hiring two terrible coaches in two seasons (Michael Curry and John Kuester) and trading a still game Chauncey Billups for a washed-up Allen Iverson. Please note that I didn’t even name the infamous drafting of Darko Milicic over All-NBA performers Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, as well as All-Stars Chris Kaman, David West, Josh Howard and Mo Williams.

While the Pistons should have been reloading or even rebuilding years ago, the effort has only begun in earnest the previous two seasons. Dumars has largely held onto his job because of the unbelievable amount of success he achieved his first half-decade on the job, but nearly everything he’s done the past three seasons has failed miserably. It’s stunning to see a perennial playoff team like the Pistons in the cellars of the NBA standings. Another 30 win season and a similar amount of locker room turmoil as 2010-2011 could spell the end for Joe D.

How will this play out?

Months ago new owner Tom …