Tom Gores

Central Notes: Gores, Bucks, K. Martin, T. Brown

Speaking to Jabari Young of CNBC, Tom Gores admitted that he made a mistake early in his tenure as the owner of the Pistons by trying to take shortcuts to contention instead of being willing to be patient and endure some losing seasons while building the right way.

“I should’ve been better about the idea that you can’t always win, and you don’t win fast,” Gores said. “I think I’ve grown from that perspective. I’m not sure I understood the magnitude of the responsibility when you own a sports team in a town that is looking to you for inspiration.”

After spending several years in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, Gores has embraced what general manager Troy Weaver calls a “restoration” of the franchise in the last couple years. The Pistons’ 20-52 record last season was their worst mark since 1993/94, but the team was able to add potential cornerstone Cade Cunningham to a promising young core this offseason, creating optimism for the future.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Bucks are on track to be a taxpayer for the second consecutive season in 2021/22 and could face some tough roster decisions a year from now, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that Bobby Portis, Donte DiVincenzo, and Grayson Allen are all on expiring contracts and will be in line for raises on their next deals.
  • Following the trade of Edmond Sumner, there’s a clearer path to a regular season roster spot for Pacers wing Kelan Martin, but he’s not taking anything for granted, as David Woods of The Indianapolis Star writes. Martin has twice agreed to push his salary guarantee date back in the hopes of making Indiana’s 15-man squad.
  • Former 15th overall pick Troy Brown, who was traded from Washington to Chicago at last season’s deadline, is hoping to claim a bigger role with the Bulls in his first full season with the team, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “I feel like me and Coach (Billy Donovan) have a good dynamic in the sense of me being like a Swiss Army Knife,” Brown said. “Whatever he needs on the court, that’s what I go do — whether it’s playmaking, rebounding, playing defense, hitting 3s. I feel like that’s my job on the team, and I just try to accept that role and do it as best as I can.”

Eastern Notes: Mobley, Gores, Wizards, Bonner

The Cavaliers fielded calls for over a month regarding the No. 3 pick in the draft. However the team’s brass was more excited about adding a rookie with a very high ceiling than reconstructing the roster, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. The Cavs selected USC big man Evan Mobley with the pick. “We were able to draft a transformative talent, whose versatility, athleticism and physical gifts are qualities we covet in a player. Evan Mobley checks each of those boxes,” GM Koby Altman said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference

  • Pistons owner Tom Gores calls top pick Cade Cunningham a natural leader and feels giddy about the team’s future, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com“I’ve never felt better,” Gores said. “I woke up this morning and felt like we won already. We haven’t won a game yet. We felt like we won. I feel excited about where we’re at, but I also know through my life experiences we’ve got to go to work. We’ve got a great foundation.”
  • Zach Guthrie and Mike Miller will be part of Wes Unseld Jr.‘s staff with the Wizards, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets. Guthrie worked under Rick Carlisle in Dallas last season, while Miller is the former coach of the G League’s Westchester Knicks. Former Magic assistant Pat Delany had already agreed to join the Wizards.
  • Becky Bonner is expected to be a bench coach on Jamahl Mosley‘s Magic staff, Fischer adds in another tweet. She’s already the team’s Director of Player Development and Quality Control. Nate Tibbetts, Dale Osbourne and Kaleb Canales are expected to be on the front of Orlando’s bench assisting Mosley, according to Fischer (Twitter link).

Central Notes: Drummond, Holiday, Augustin, Gores

A nearly empty arena took away some of the excitement of Andre Drummond‘s return to Detroit on Saturday night, but the experience was still memorable for the Cavaliers‘ center, who spent the first seven and a half years of his career with the Pistons, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“Overwhelming amount of feelings rushed through my body,” Drummond said. “Just being back in this building again, but on the other side, it was a lot of memories that just rushed through my head, hearing my name again in this arena. After that, the moment was over. Came out in the starting lineup, got ready to play and we came out with a great win.”

Drummond was a franchise cornerstone from the time he was taken in the 2012 draft, but he became expendable at the February trade deadline when Detroit decided to shed salary and embrace rebuilding. Pistons coach Dwane Casey has watched Drummond a few times since the trade and has noticed his growth on offense since arriving in Cleveland.

“Different seeing him on the other side,” Casey said. “I loved him. I got close to Andre and I took it as a project to try to work with him and develop him and put him in position to be successful. It was a business decision for us — the direction we were going in and the direction he needed to go in from an individual standpoint. Hated to see him go. (Owner) Tom (Gores) loved Andre. The whole organization loved Andre. He’s the Dennis Rodman of our game as far as rebounding. He has a knack and timing. Tried to develop some other skills and just didn’t have enough time to get there with him. He has a bright future.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Jrue Holiday is having the impact the Bucks hoped for when they made him the focal point of their offseason, notes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Holiday was a difference maker in the Christmas Day win over the Warriors, contributing to 30% of the offense through the first three quarters and holding Stephen Curry to 6-of-17 from the field. “I just think our spacing we have, the athleticism that we have opens up everything,” Holiday said.Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Khris (Middleton) demand so much attention, so just to be able to run in space, to correct spacing and really just go from there.”
  • Veteran guard D.J. Augustin made his Bucks debut Friday after suffering a calf strain during the preseason, Owczarski adds in the same story. Augustin credits the medical staff for making him take his time to recover.
  • Gores is rejecting a call to sell the Pistons because of his ownership of a prison telecom company that is accused of charging inmates up to $15 for a 15-minute phone call, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN.

Central Notes: Donovan, Temple, Turner, Warren, Gores

Bulls coach Billy Donovan is already building a strong foundation in Chicago, working to establish relationships with his players and instill a respected culture within the team, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

Donovan, who’s set to start his first season as head coach of the Bulls this week, spent the past five years coaching the Thunder. He led Oklahoma City to a surprising 44-28 record last season, good for the fifth-best in the Western Conference.

“He has a great track record with his players and he has done a great job so far of telling us what he needs out of us,” veteran forward Thaddeus Young said. “We had a meeting (early in camp) and he took time to really sit down as a team and tell us, ‘These are the things we need to do to win basketball game(s) and these are the things we need to do in order to fight through this thing.’ I think he’s done a great job so far.’’

Donovan hopes to guide the Bulls to their first playoff appearance since the 2016/17 season, leading a group that consists of Zach LaVine, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr., Patrick Williams and others.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago examines how Garrett Temple could immediately help the Bulls in a separate story for NBC Sports Chicago. Temple, the team’s only acquisition in free agency, finished his first practice on Sunday after quarantining due to COVID-19. “Just talking guys through certain things that I see, whether it be defensive things, offensively or just making sure we stay together,” Temple said. “If a team goes on a 5-0 run, 10-0 run that we stay together and not put our heads down. Things of that nature are some things I think I can help out with right away.”
  • The Pacers expect to have Myles Turner and T.J. Warren available for their season opener against the Knicks on Wednesday, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. Turner had been coping with a concussion, while Warren had been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. “They were in a full physical, contact practice today and they looked good,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “There was a lot on 5-on-5. That’s what I would expect. They’re getting the green light to get closer and closer to that.”
  • A criminal justice group has submitted a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver with hopes of forcing Pistons owner Tom Gores to sell the franchise, according to Davide Scigliuzzo of Bloomberg (via The Detroit News). The group’s concerns lie with Gores’ financial interest in Securus Technologies Inc., which came under fire this year for charging prisoners as much as $25 for a 15-minute call, Scigliuzzo writes.

Pistons Notes: Gores, Weaver, Patton, Mykhailiuk

Pistons owner Tom Gores is confident that new general manager Troy Weaver is the right choice to work with coach Dwane Casey, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Ed Stefanski has been running the front office while Detroit has been without a GM for the past two years, and Gores envisions them all operating together.

“There’ll be a nice divide-and-conquer coming in and again that’s why I trust Troy to come in as someone smart enough to leverage resources,” Gores said. “At a high level, we’ll work all this out in the detail. Really, Troy and Ed and Dwane will work on a day-to-day basis with each other, and Troy will have normal — and even higher than normal — GM responsibilities and he’s got a lot to learn. He’s going to get on the ground and know each player well and connect with (Casey) and so on and then as it bubbles up to ownership, (vice chairman) Arn (Tellem) and I — if there’s big decisions that need to be made — we’ll all gather.”

The management team will face two chances to set the direction for the future this fall with the draft, where the Pistons have a shot at a high lottery pick, and free agency, where the team could have as much as $30MM in cap space.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Weaver made his first move with the Pistons this week, signing former first-round pick Justin Patton to a deal that’s non-guaranteed for next season. Weaver also took a chance on Patton last summer when he was in the Thunder’s front office, points out Omar Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Injuries have limited Patton to just nine NBA games, but he remains an intriguing center prospect at age 23.
  • The Pistons used about half of their remaining non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Patton, tweets John Hollinger of The Athletic. That means they can offer a similar contract to another player before the NBA’s transaction window closes Tuesday night, if they so choose.
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk developed into an important offensive weapon after moving into the starting lineup and appears to be part of the rebuilding process, writes Lauren Williams of MLive“Physically, right away you can see the things that he brings to the table, but I think he grew this year and sort of his mental approach, and also just his confidence that he can impact the game in more ways than just shooting,” Blake Griffin said. “I think next year will be a big year for him. He’s put in a lot of work and I feel like he’s taking that step.”

Weaver Will “Run Basketball Side Of Things” For Pistons

Pistons owner Tom Gores defined new general manager Troy Weaver’s role, saying that the former Oklahoma City executive “will run the basketball side of things” for the rebuilding franchise, Keith Langlois of the team’s website reports.

Senior adviser Ed Stefanski had been running the front office but will take a step back with Weaver in place. Gores also encouraged Weaver to receive input from vice chairman Arn Tellem, and coach Dwane Casey. The club is expected to hire at least one assistant GM.

“We want Troy to lead. He’s going to run the basketball side of things,” Gores said. “We have over 100 years of experience between Arn and Ed and Dwane to leverage. The smartest people in the world leverage whatever resources they have. I wanted to make sure he would leverage it.”

Weaver said he was “blown away” by Gores’ energy and enthusiasm in a video conference and was sold on taking the job “in two minutes.”

Weaver, who had been with the Thunder for more than a decade following a stint with the Jazz, most recently held the title of vice president of basketball operations after previously serving as the team’s VP/assistant GM. He was Sam Presti‘s top lieutenant in Oklahoma City and had been a candidate for other top basketball operations jobs around the NBA in recent years.

The Pistons pursued him for a front office role two years ago after Stefanski was hired. He wasn’t ready to leave OKC at that point. When the Pistons came calling this time, Weaver was more willing to make a career move.

“It’s all about timing. When this opportunity presented itself, I thought the timing was right,” he said. “I thought the fit was right and the loyalty that Mr. Gores and Arn and coach Casey and Ed have building made it attractive. My talents fit with those guys there to be collaborative.”

Though the team is focused on a youth movement, Weaver sees Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose as a big part of Detroit’s plans for next season, according to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard.

“We’re excited to get them healthy and help them move forward,” Weaver said. “We feel like we have a good mixture of young guys with those two staples to be able to start there, but obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do with the draft and free agency.”

Coronavirus Updates: Training, Gores, Taiwan, Testing

A 25-day program designed to get players back in action is one of the ideas being floated around as the NBA explores ways to resume its season, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Players would undergo 11 days of individual workouts while maintain some measure of social distancing. A two-week training camp would follow with entire teams participating. NBA executives and training staff have expressed players would require approximately a month to get back into shape after such a long layoff.

We have more from around the league on coronavirus-related topics:

  • Pistons owner Tom Gores will purchase and donate 100,000 surgical masks for distribution among Detroit-area health care workers, according to a team press release. Gores is making arrangements to buy the surgical grade masks from a supplier in New Jersey. The masks are expected to be delivered by mid-week. Michigan has been hit hard by COVID-19 with the third-most deaths in the country due to the virus.
  • The NBA could learn some lessons on how to restart its season from Taiwan, believed to be the world’s only widely-recognized pro basketball league currently in operation, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports. Taiwan’s Super Basketball League is playing games in a gym with no fans in a smaller version of the “bubble” environment that the NBA will likely try to replicate, Stein continues. The only people allowed inside, beyond the teams and the referees, are camera operators for the television broadcasts, the scoring crew, and journalists.
  • Playing in a neutral quarantined environment, with players and personnel isolated from the rest of society and undergoing frequent rapid-response tests, are the most logical ways for the NBA to resume its season, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.

Gores: Struggling Pistons “Have To Assess Everything”

Speaking on Thursday night to reporters, Pistons owner Tom Gores said that winning is still his top priority, but admitted he wants more than a No. 8 seed and acknowledged that taking a step back in the short term could ultimately help Detroit achieve that goal, tweets James Edwards of The Athletic.

“We have to look at everything because we’re not winning, so you’re not winning, to me, you have to assess everything,” Gores said of his 12-23 squad, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “I think anybody would want to do that. And probably in the next month or so, we’re going to get together as an organization and just discuss things.”

Although Gores didn’t go so far as to say that the Pistons are seriously considering becoming deadline sellers or blowing up their roster, his comments reflect a change in tone. After the club was eliminated from the playoffs by Milwaukee last April, the Pistons’ owner stressed that he doesn’t believe in tanking and wants to establish a winning culture in Detroit. However, the organization’s win-now efforts have been largely unsuccessful.

The Pistons have made the postseason just twice in the last 10 years, both times as the East’s No. 8 seed. The team didn’t win a single game in either playoff appearance and appears on track to miss the postseason again in 2020, despite the fact that the eighth-seeded Magic are just 15-19 — the 11th-seeded Pistons are already 3.5 games back. Injuries have played a part in Detroit’s struggles this season, but Gores doesn’t want to use them as an excuse, as Beard notes.

“We expected to manage minutes and all of that stuff for our players but we’ve had some bad luck, but other teams had bad luck, too, and you’ve got to work through it,” Gores said. “I just think injuries happen. We’ve had more than our share this year, but we have to build a team that can handle it.”

While it’s probably too early in the season for the Pistons to shift into player-development mode, it was interesting that Gores’ comments came on a night when rookie Sekou Doumbouya – the NBA’s youngest player – received his first career start, as Edwards points out at The Athletic.

If the Pistons do become sellers at the deadline, Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, and Langston Galloway would be among the team’s trade candidates. Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson could be discussed as well, though they’d be trickier to move and the franchise would have to be willing to fully commit to a change in direction.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Galloway, Johnson, Practice Facility

Pistons owner Tom Gores said on Monday that retaining center Andre Drummond is his “top priority,” Jeff Riger of 97.1 The Ticket tweets. Drummond could become an unrestricted free agent if he opts out of the final year of his contract after the season.

“You guys know, many years in a row, how committed I am to Andre,” Gores said. “So it is [the] top priority.”

Drummond and his reps have reportedly requested extension talks. Prior to opening night, Drummond can opt in for the 2020/21 season at $28.75MM and add up to three additional years to the contract. The first year of the extension can be any amount up to 120% of his 2020/21 salary (a max of $34.5MM). After that, he can opt out and sign an extension until June 30, but the starting salary can’t be below $28.75MM or exceed $34.5MM.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Langston Galloway is one of many options at the wing and coach Dwane Casey says Galloway will have a role, Keith Langlois of the team’s website relays. “He’s like that old blanket,” Casey said. “It’s not fair, but he’s just a steady, steady pro. He’s a lot of our glue. So, no, I haven’t forgotten Langston. He’s going to be a huge part of what we do.” Galloway is in the final year of a three-year, $21MM contract that he signed with the previous front office regime. His $7.33MM salary is the second highest expiring deal on the team behind Reggie Jackson‘s $18.1MM salary.
  • Joe Johnson‘s year off from basketball allowed him to spent time with his dying mother, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Johnson’s mother Diane died of cancer in February. “I don’t know if you guys understand what multiple myeloma is and what it does to the body,” Johnson said “It basically breaks muscles and bones down to a point where you just become limp and you can’t do nothing on your own. Then it comes to a point where you can’t even talk.” Johnson has a partial guarantee in his contract and is looking to secure the final spot on the opening-night roster.
  • The franchise officially opened its new $90MM training facility and corporate headquarters on Monday, according to a team press release. The facility is touted as being the largest in the league. It’s located in downtown Detroit, a short distance from Little Caesars Arena. Their previous practice facility was located in Auburn Hills behind their previous arena, The Palace.

Owner Tom Gores Talks Pistons’ Future

The Pistons‘ first postseason appearance since the 2015/16 campaign ended with four straight losses, but the organization will continue to look for ways to win more games. Owner Tom Gores spoke with the media following the sweep at the hands of the Bucks, squashing any notion that Detroit will take one step back in order to two steps forward.

“I just don’t believe in the idea of whatever you want to call it — tanking or losing,” Gores said (via Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “We need a winning culture and let’s just see what happens from there. I don’t think sports is about that. You can’t get on the court and think about losing. I just don’t believe in it … I’m not going to get into that business.”

Gores said that the Pistons need to “make more progress.” Detroit won 41 games this year, up from 39 and 37 respectively over the previous two seasons.

The improvement didn’t come without a price, as team salary was close to the luxury tax this past season. The Pistons already have approximately $112MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2019/20 season and they will continue to search for ways to make improvements within the confines of the salary cap parameters.

“I want to win as much as all of us want to win. If I didn’t want to, it would have been easy not to win and not try to get into the playoffs. Of course, we are,” Gores said. “This has never been about our financial situation; it’s about delivering to Detroit. It’s not the way we function and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win. 

“We established good culture this year and if you look at the positives, we do have great players and Dwane did a good job navigating some of our young players with Bruce Brown, and [Luke Kennard] did great every step at a time. It’s a process.”