AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy the team president has been on the spot this offseason, trying to acquire players who can help Detroit’s lineup become a bit more cohesive on the court.
Then it will be up to Stan Van Gundy the coach to decide who plays and how often.
“When you’ve been where we’ve been the last few years, everything’s open. Everything,” Van Gundy said. “You can’t go to anybody on our team and tell them that I’ve promised them anything.”
The Pistons haven’t done anything drastic since Van Gundy took over as coach and team president in May, but they have added a few under-the-radar free agents who give the roster a bit more depth. Now the stage is set for some spirited competition once the season starts, especially on the perimeter.
Detroit signed Jodie Meeks, D.J. Augustin and Caron Butler, all of whom can shoot from 3-point range and potentially free up space for Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith to operate inside. While the free agent buzz around the league has centered on stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, Van Gundy has quietly added some more options for his new team.
“I like the makeup of our team right now,” Van Gundy said. “But it’s going to come down to things you don’t know. How well are we going to play together? How committed are we going to be at the defensive end of the floor? How well are guys going to accept roles?”
The Pistons waived guard Peyton Siva and forward Josh Harrellson, but that still leaves a logjam on the perimeter with Brandon Jennings, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Singler in the mix along with Meeks, Augustin and Butler. It’s hard to say what the future holds for Will Bynum, who played a decent amount last season as a backup point guard.
Van Gundy has talked a lot about character and the need to take work ethic into account when acquiring players. The Pistons have missed the playoffs the last five seasons and gone through several coaches in the process, so it’s a franchise in desperate need of some stability.
“I think you want to get your culture right, above anything else, and I think it’s naive to think that you’re going to do that through the power of your personality, or your, you know, incredible leadership skills,” Van Gundy said, with a touch of sarcasm.
“To me, the way you do it is by the people you put on your team and in your locker room. That’s how the culture gets changed.”
Although Van Gundy has made several changes at the margins, the Pistons are still relying on their impressive front line. Drummond, Monroe and Smith all had the ability to dominate a game last season, but they seldom seemed to play well at the same time.
The 6-foot-11 Monroe is a restricted free agent, so his future with the Pistons remains somewhat up in the air. Van Gundy is hoping for the best.
“We need a lot of people to take a step up and play better,” Van Gundy said. “I think the biggest way for improvement — all of our guys, the returning guys, all have got to play at a higher level. There’s no question about that.
“We can add whoever we add, but to really take a step, Andre, Greg, Josh, Brandon — in particular, those four guys — have to take a step forward and have better years,” he said.
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