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Stan Van Gundy sees growth, excited for future of Pistons

Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower addressed the media Thursday.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed the biggest obstacle of Stan Van Gundy the coach was Stan Van Gundy the president of basketball operations.

That's what happens when you reportedly reject a deal for your ill-fitting highest-paid player and then release the same player 28 games into the season. Then once coach Van Gundy righted that ship and things began to hum, executive Van Gundy came in and blew up the roster again, trading key pieces for Reggie Jackson.

That roster churn combined with a series of injuries to Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks and Greg Monroe meant the dust never truly settled in Van Gundy's first year in Detroit.

"Quite honestly, I was scrambling all year," Van Gundy said to the gathered media Thursday in Auburn Hills, sitting with his general manager, Jeff Bower, to assess his first year in Detroit.

"I have a hard time getting giddy at 32-50 ... but we are excited," he said.

What has him and Bower excited is the fact that they were able to accomplish some key goals -- turn over the roster, re-establish a positive culture and set the foundation.

And in Andre Drummond, Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Van Gundy said he believes the foundation has been set.

Another player that might be a part of that foundation is Greg Monroe, who both Bower and Van Gundy praised for his talent, maturity and work ethic. But Van Gundy also admitted the ball is in Monroe's court to make whatever decision he feels is best for him.

"I think we have a good idea of what it would cost to retain him," Van Gundy said. "It's his chance in free agency to get exactly what he wants. I don't think it's going to come down to a recruitment battle."

Bowers added that now, as opposed to when the two sides explored contract options a year ago, Monroe knows a lot more about Van Gundy, his style as a coach "in good times and bad," how he wants to use Monroe to his strengths and the culture that he worked to create, and that Monroe was a part of establishing.

Still, Van Gundy said he will be ready for a situation in which Monroe returns and one in which he departs.

And a big part of the upcoming roster overhaul will involve the NBA draft and free agency. In both avenues, Van Gundy said the team is much better prepared than they were a year ago. Now, with a large network of scouts in place, the team feels it will be ready to make the best possible additions.

As Bowers put it, the team is positioned to "selectively add the right pieces to the right places" and later added they would add to the talent base "regardless of the names attached to them."

This could be an indication that the team is ready to hit a bunch of "singles" with under-the-radar types in free agency like they did last season. Or, more likely, the team is confident in its assessments that they are prepared to take, say a Kristaps Porzingis over a Frank Kaminsky or maybe a Khris Middleton when the fan base is clamoring for a Draymond Green.

But that's all just fun offseason speculation.

Van Gundy also touched on a number of other topics:

On Drummond: "We saw more of a gain offensively than we thought we'd see in the first year; a great potential for growth."

On Caldwell-Pope: "KCP made a good jump from last year to this year. He's still got a ways to go, but he understands that."

On Spencer Dinwiddie: "Spencer, I think, showed flashes. ... He just sort of scratched the surface."

On Jodie Meeks: "[He] finally got his legs under him late in the year and played well down the stretch."

On Brandon Jennings: "It's a tough injury ... but we know he's not got a lot of weight, which is good, that he's a fast healer, but it's an unknown. We're not going to know by the time we get into free agency; we won't know anything definitive. He's going to be an unknown as we go into the process, we just have to accept that.