Joel Anthony happy to return to a good situation
When Joel Anthony was acquired in exchange for Will Bynum prior to the start of last season, it was seen as a move that wasn't going to rock the boat either way, with most dismissing the soft-spoken Canadian big man as a one-year insurance policy after Aaron Gray was forced into early retirement due to a cardiac episode. Slowly but surely, however, the UNLV product carved himself a spot on the roster and in the fanbase's hearts with his stellar work ethic, professionalism and strong play. Appearing in 49 games for an average of 8.3 minutes, the center put up 1.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and a block during that time, solidifying his role as the team's defensive specialist. There was always a mutual interest in seeing the 9-year NBA veteran return to Motown, and after a few more offseason formalities, the 33 year old signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Pistons. Anthony was pleased that he had found a team where he felt comfortable, per Pistons.com's Keith Langlois:
"It just seemed a really good situation," he said. "I felt really comfortable with the team, with the guys here, comfortable with the organization, with Stan and everything he was trying to do and with the coaching staff. I felt comfortable in Detroit. It's been welcoming to me. So just having that level of comfort, it felt good and it gave me a chance to work with the young guys. It's an experience I've really welcomed."
"He expressed to me how much he wanted me back on this team and that was enough," Anthony said. "He's not someone that makes promises, but the one thing I've always respected about Stan is that he's always been a man of his word. Whether it was good or bad, he told me how he felt and just that open honesty is enough for me."
Of course, the offseason has yielded a few more additions, with Aron Baynes, Ersan Ilyasova, Marcus Morris and multiple others joining the squad. Stan Van Gundy stressed over the course of last season that the team needed good veterans, and it certainly seems he has found himself a sound core of mentors to lead the Pistons' young and promising core.
Stanley Johnson: "I want to win now"
With pre-season about to get underway, there is only one thing on rookie Stanley Johnson's mind: Championships. Of course, hanging out with Draymond Green over the offseason will certainly make you want to compete for the Larry O'Brien trophy, and the former Arizona Wildcat's competitive spirit seems to have been mulling over the idea, as The Detroit News' Terry Foster points out:
"The trophy represents all the hard work they put into it, the sacrifices the team made and all the great things they did. Every time they see that trophy with their names on it, this is what it means. Why are we here? Why are we practicing?" Johnson said. "Why are we in training camp if we are not trying to win a championship? Are we practicing for second place? I will never practice for second place. Every team's goal is to win a championship, and if that is not in place, then we are not doing anything right."
Johnson's words will certainly yield a mix of tempered optimism and all-out joy, as Terry points out the last rookie to declare he was chasing a title was Isiah Thomas in 1981. Can the Pistons be a competitive team in the East? Sure, but it is all about small improvements from year to year. Realistically, a team that finished last season 32-50 won't be battling it out in the 2016 NBA Finals, but could be a playoff team with second-round aspirations. The team's young core has yet to hit their prime, and once they do, there is no reason to think the Pistons can't repeat history and go on to compete for multiple championships over the course of the next decade. Despite his win-now attitude however, Johnson is in it for long haul:
"I have to have multiple rings," he said, laughing. "As many as I can possibly get. And I want to do it in one place."
Pistons happy with workout attendance
With 20 players on the roster you think it'd be hard to have everyone at pre-camp workouts back in Detroit, but the Pistons have been very happy with the turnout, with only three players missing in action during the team's pickup games and team bonding. Newly acquired stretch-4 Ersan Ilyasova spent most of his offseason representing Turkey for EuroBasket, Brandon Jennings, who was recently medically cleared has made several appearances with the Pistons over the course of the summer but remains out of basketball-related activities, while veteran Danny Granger has been sidelined by a knee injury that will see the forward join the team next month at the earliest, reports Vince Ellis at The Detroit Free Press.
Detroit has been very active during the offseason, with a lot of new bodies entering the mix the coaching staff and players thought it'd be best for everyone to spend as much time as possible together prior to the start of the season to build chemistry. So far, the tactic seems to have paid off, as Reggie Jackson explains to Ellis:
"It's astounding to have everybody here, for the most part," he told the Free Press after a hard workout. "These past two weeks, we've been going hard and really getting after it with pickup (games), a couple of drills here and there, lifting. Everybody's been participating. Just having the guys here, getting to know each other, trying to hurry up and figure out a few of our concepts and the system. I think it's going to help us get through training camp a little bit quicker."
The Pistons' media day starts on Monday, with Detroit Bad Boys' own Sean Corp there to relay all the information you'll need to know to get ready for the season! Be sure to stay tuned to DBB for more!
Tweet of the Week
Shout out to all the people using the Detroit Pistons on 2k— Stanley Johnson (@iAmSJ) September 25, 2015