If there is one thing that stood out while Pistons owner Tom Gores and new head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy sat for their first press conference together, it's that they want to speak with one voice and leave the disarray of the last several years behind them.
If there was one key difference between the rebuilding era of Joe Dumars and the new Van Gundy era, it was the mission statement as an executive. After the Going to Work era, Dumars constantly talked about the need to add talent all over the floor. He re-signed players and grabbed free agents because more talent = better team.
Van Gundy, though, emphasized chemistry -- something that the Pistons have sorely lacked since 2008.
"You're looking for abilities that fit together well. You're looking for chemistry. We're building a team here; we're not just accumulating talent," Van Gundy said.
Both SVG and Gores talked about the need for a connection between the front office and the coaching staff so that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal.
And that person is now Van Gundy. As Van Gundy said: "There's no excuses now."
Van Gundy sounded excited and ready for the challenge, and tried to put the idea that he couldn't handle the responsibilities as both a head coach and personnel man to rest. He noted the success the same model has had in Miami with Pat Riley, and currently in San Antonio with Gregg Poppovich and in Los Angeles with Doc Rivers. The latter two are still fighting in the NBA playoffs.
"I lived it for eight years (in Miami)," Van Gundy said. "I will try to talk to Pop. I will try to talk to Doc, but, uh, they're busy now."
Van Gundy was effusive in his praise for the 20-year-old Drummond. "There is nothing about Andre Drummond that doesn't appeal to me," he said of the player about to enter his third year in the NBA. Van Gundy said he's impressed not only with his abilities but his desire to get better, and outlined two goals for building the team around Drummond:
1. The team must do everything possible to develop him as a player, how he prepares and his knowledge of the game.
2. The team has a responsibility to put a system and people around him that allow him to thrive.
The assumption is that building around Drummond means surrounding him with shooters the way Van Gundy did in Orlando with Dwight Howard. But Van Gundy was quick also to praise Monroe, who is entering restricted free agency.
Van Gundy said he has already talked to Monroe and his agent David Falk. He said he wants to sit down with Greg face-to-face and talk more about how they can create a system to fully maximize his abilities as a basketball player.
He certainly didn't sound like somebody that was eager to trade a young, talented big man away anytime soon, though he wouldn't commit to matching any offer sheet put on the table.
He also was sure to praise the skills of current (for now) Pistons Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. He even went so far as to say that a big-man rotation of Drummond, Monroe and Smith might be the most talented in the Eastern Conference. That said, he all but admitted that there is no way the three should be on the floor at the same time together for long stretches.
The Josh Smith small forward era, it seems, is officially dead.
Van Gundy didn't delve into what he will look for when considering adding members to his executive or coaching ranks, but he talked about the need to hire people smarter than himself in both capacities.
And owner Gores said he was extremely confident that Van Gundy is the kind of person that could wear both hats, delegate appropriately and thrive. He talked about Van Gundy's abilities as a leader and someone who is passionate and committed to the details.
He mentioned the 45-page binder Van Gundy prepared for their meeting together to talk about the organization. Gores said he was blown away and that he knows how important this decision is for the team, the city and his ownership legacy.
"This is the defining moment. This is the most important decision we have made as an organization. Not only did we hire a coach and a president of basketball, we are resetting the culture of the franchise. I am so confident this is going to work."