Tanking isn't a conscious choice for the Detroit Pistons in their latest semblance of disarray. It's a byproduct of simply stepping out onto the floor.

It's not surprising they're again a dysfunctional mess with disjointed pieces that can't properly mesh until other roster moves are made. There's no shortage of blame for yet another season falling into irrelevance.

Coach Maurice Cheeks might have already lost control of his team — and he has had the job for only 45 games (with an 18-27 record, tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference). Team President Joe Dumars has lost the public's confidence because he hired Cheeks and assembled this roster.

But owner Tom Gores shouldn't escape criticism.

Gores set this nonsense in motion, creating a playoffs-or-else ultimatum this season instead of realizing that an improved but still-flawed roster would require at least another year of tweaking. Gores told everybody what they wanted to hear last spring with his playoff ultimatum. Accountability's necessary, but appeasing the torch-and-pitchfork crowd only offers short-term relief unless it's followed up with a thoughtfully articulated strategy.

I'm not sure that you can trust Gores to have that plan. He's obviously a smart businessman. Dummies don't build themselves into billionaires. But I'm afraid that Gores falls into that ego trap that claims many other professional sports owners who suddenly gain a fair measure of public attention they didn't get while amassing their fortunes.

Instead of blaming Dumars for not drafting either Michigan's Trey Burke or Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams, perhaps that wrath should be reserved for Gores. If ownership's demanding a playoff season, then you can't really trust putting such responsibility in the occasionally shaky hands of a rookie point guard, can you?

Gores' ultimatum resulted in the Pistons finding pieces first and worrying if they'll eventually fit second. That might get you a playoff berth and a quick first-round elimination, but it's not the approach for building a good team capable of making extended playoff runs in the future.

The Pistons have underachieved this season. They play disinterested. They lack an identity. They lack players with clearly defined roles. But the roster isn't disjointed because newcomers Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings shoot too much. It's disjointed because they have to shoot the ball more than necessary.

What are their options?

They have a center in second-year project Andre Drummond who remains offensively clueless around the basket. Didn't he supposedly spend every waking moment last summer working on his low-post footwork?

They have a sulking power forward in Greg Monroe who lacks the mid-range offensive game essential for a four in today's more athletic NBA. Either he's incapable or unwilling to broaden that shooting repertoire. Either way, it's been obvious for the past year that you can't play him and Drummond together.

Monroe must go, making room for Smith as the full-time power forward — the position that best accentuates his vast skill set.

And they still don't have a defense-stretching athletic small forward.

Think about it. They haven't had a conventional scoring three since Grant Hill. And the Pistons drafted him 20 years ago!