The entire Detroit Pistons organization has brought in to the philosophy of restoration, but are they on the right path? I wanted to jump right in to dissecting the current regime, which we will in time, but that would cheat you of eye opening perspective.
The Pistons are hoping to restore the organization back to world class championship status. Looking at past mistakes during their down years afforded better appreciation for their current attempt.
It’s been nearly two-decades since the Pistons have demanded the respect of opponents, and their fans.
The passing of William Davidson in 2009 (beloved championship winning team owner), sent the Pistons on a downward spiral.
Problems and issues were magnified when they traded 2004 finals MVP Chauncey BIllups, for Allen Iverson. Using the subsequent cap space to sign Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon only further derailed the Pistons plans. This began to jade influential veterans on the team, like Richard “Rip” Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.
Tensions reached a peak when former coach John Kuester benched “Rip” Hamilton due to speculated locker room issues. Though it was only for a game, Prince commented that it was “Buffoonery”, behavior that is ridiculous but amusing. With a predictable lack of success and a one time player mutiny, this post Davidson time became known as the “Buffonery era”.
Current owner Tom Gores purchased the Pistons after the passing of Davidson, as a team with a questionable future. Many fans blamed Gores lack of experience in professional sports, for the further decline in the years since.
It was obvious, painfully at times, that Gores was learning on the fly. But I do believe he desires the Pistons “Restoration” to its former glory, as much as fans do. But that doesn’t excuse a forgettable string of coaches, and front office decisions in the first half of his ownership.
To the fans who refused to jump ship during the down years, please accept my apology for the gruesome reminders.
But, it’s for a reason! I want to analyze the Pistons “restoration”, and better understand the plan ahead.
The Detroit Pistons enjoyed a golden age of coaching starting with Rick Carlisle in 2001 (’01 Coach of the Year), Larry Brown (’04 championship wining coach), and the late Flip Saunders who had a measly .715 winning average with the Pistons.
The coaching along with a prime, front office Joe Dumars propelled the Pistons to championship winning success. This time became known as the “Going to Work” era and further cemented the Pistons in basketball history.
But several mistakes by Dumars, the Pistons legend and general manager at the time, doomed his vision. Starting with moving on from Saunders as he stated the team needed a “new voice”, and the earlier mentioned Billups. Furthermore, who knows just how far back the Darko Milicic draft pick set the Pistons organization.
With the organization heading in the wrong direction, fan support turned from apathy to actionable displeasure. Gores rightly parted ways with Dumars, while not handled with the best of dignity for the former BadBoy.
Though it was probably time to move on from Dumars, the team suffered even greater after his departure.
This drove Tom Gores to leave the basketball parts of his business, to basketball minds from that point forward.
Stop the Bleeding!
Stan Van Gundy replaced interim coach John Loyer after a string of meh hires. He assumed the titles President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach.
During his time in Detroit fans have come to know, love, hate and appreciate Van Gundy, affectionately known as SVG.
The hiring sparked renewed interest in the Pistons. So much so, that it has become known as the “Form a F*cking Wall” or #FAFW era in fan cannon.
This, after a broadcast hot mic picked up SVG’s course language during a timeout vs San Antonio. A game the Pistons won, which spurred a hot streak.
That garnered renewed levels of fan support not seen in a while, especially with the well known #PistonsTwitter.
SVG quickly revamped the entire roster from non-desirable to playoff worthy in just a few short years. But it was starting to become clear the Pistons had reached their peak with the mandate to Win Now, fading with bloated contracts and questionable front office decisions.
“I should have been better about the idea that you can’t always win, and you don’t win fast… I think I’ve grown from that perspective.”– Tom Gores | CNBC | Click to Read More
Stan Van Gundy deserves credit for being the start of the culture rebuild or restoration, as the team dubs their campaign back to championship quality.
His vision wasn’t exactly in alignment with Tom Gores’ as time progressed. So once again the Pistons were looking for a new coach, team president and GM.
Enter Arn Tellem and Ed Stefanski.
Arn Tellem was arguably the best NBA agent during his time at the premier sports agency Wasserman Media Group. Tellem represented many top players including the late Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and Ben Wallace.
Tom Gores brought in Tellem to help reshape the basketball, and community perspective of the entire organization and ownership group.
A culture change.
“I am joining another great organization with an outstanding leader in Tom Gores, who is committed to ensuring Palace Sports and Entertainment is a championship organization both on the court and in the community.“– Arn Tellem on joining the Detroit Pistons | H/T Bleacher Report
Next, Ed Stefanski was added to the Pistons front office with years of NBA executive experience. Despite never receiving the official title, Stefanski acted as the Pistons general manager.
The pairing of Tellem and Stefanski improved where SVG excelled, while correcting cap sheet mishaps left in his trail.
Stefanski levied bold strategies to make the Pistons more desirable to prospective coaches, GM’s and players. The Andre Drummond trade comes to mind as an example.
They put the team in a position to properly rebuild for the first time in the Gores ownership. Which brings us to the current general manager Troy Weaver and head coach Dwane Casey.
They were off to an interesting start, but have some questioning their long term chances of success. Do you believe they are the right GM and coach to lead the restoration?