When Stan Van Gundy took over the Detroit Pistons, he expressed the desire to connect the floor to the front office, instilling a real culture and stability within the organization. Josh Smith’s dismissal was weeks in the making according to Stan, and when the first-year coach came to Gores to discuss the move, the Pistons owner wasn’t surprised, as he discussed in an excellent interview with TNT's David Aldridge. Stan and Tom communicate often, with Gores pointing towards Van Gundy’s professionalism and their good chemistry helping the two to forge a solid relationship.
"Stan and I, fortunately for both of us, we've had such a great chemistry and communication with each other since he's come on board, really from our first meeting. Stan is a very thorough guy ... for me, what was comfortable was knowing Stan is such a good coach, and with him, if we're 5-23, which we were, something's not right."
General manager Jeff Bower, Van Gundy and Gores talked at lengths about potential options regarding Josh Smith before settling on a solution that took the League – and the fanbase – by surprise. Gores accepted the financial hit, recognizing the opportunity he had to give his team a fresh start.
"I had a good gut feeling that change would be good for us, but to win eight of the last nine, and the seven-game streak, this team does look like it could challenge anybody. I didn't know it would be this kind of progress. I wouldn't say I'm shocked, because of my confidence in Stan."
Gores trusted SVG with his decision on Smith, and since then, the Pistons haven’t looked back. Whilst many have attributed Detroit’s resurgence with Josh’s departure, Tom points to Meeks’ return, Monroe’s reappearance in the lineup and the team’s young core ability to shoulder the load for their recent success. Speaking of the former-Georgetown big man, Tom Gores opened up on the Pistons’ willingness to bring back the talented center:
"We've always wanted Greg. We weren't able to make the deal in the summer, but we always have. He, by the way, has great character. He's a true professional. Even though we weren't able to make the deal, he's been there every day. Given the new culture with Stan, I think we have a great shot with Greg. Of course, it'll be his choice."
Everything is coming up aces for the Pistons as they embrace their newfound success and brace themselves for a potential extended playoff appearance. Fans are coming back to watch the team, the Palace is abuzz with activity and cheer, national media is starting to pay attention to the blossoming team and the players are actually having fun together on the court, something that had been lacking in previous years.
"You forget how winning feels […] I'm trying to control my excitement, we know what one win is, or even seven wins. We know it's a long process to build a champion. But I'm really encouraged where we're at, and I think we've taken a few steps ahead in the process."
Let the new Era begin.