One of the many things that were discussed during today's Pistons Media Availability with Pistons General Manager Jeff Bower and Pistons Head coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy was of course Andre Drummond's free throws. With Tom Gores ready to give Drummond a max contract, may people are concerned that due to his historically inefficient free throw shooting, Drummond may not be worth the money. Bower and Van Gundy have stated that "literally, everything's on the table."
Note: It was quite difficult to hear the reporters questions at times, so what I have transcribed may not be exactly what was asked. And all the "ums", "ya know", "I think" were removed from the questions and answers.
Reporter: Stan, how confident are you that you can get Andre to sign this summer to a max extension and how do you go about addressing the free throw shooting?
Van Gundy: Well, I mean obviously we have good confidence that we can get him re-signed. Nothing's a sure thing. And I think we can state with great confidence that we'll have him back here next year as a restricted free agent. And as far as the free throw shooting, again, we're researching some ideas that we think can help. Sometime very shortly here, there's a group of us, Jeff and I included, that will meet to talk about the possibilities. And then you have to bring Andre on board, and as I said to him yesterday, a lot of it will be how open he'll be to taking some different approaches and how hard he's willing to work at those things. I think the one good thing about this season where it was really the first time that people used that strategy against him extensively and everything else. I think he's very motivated and very open-minded in terms of approaches. It's something that he wants to get solved. He doesn't like being on the bench for that reason and everything else. I think he'll work at it. I think there's a couple of different ways to go if things are a little bit of a different approach. We'll try to figure out which one of those is best.
Reporter: Do you think...you hired Dave Hopla here largely to work with him and three months into the regular season they discontinued working together...do you think he got a full opportunity to do his job...
Van Gundy: Well it's not a matter of that. There's a lot more to Andre's free throw shooting than mechanics. Dave's a guy who focuses on free throw mechanics. But we have an issue, Andre's real clear about when I talked to him, about translating from the practice gym to the playing court. That's not a mechanical issue. So we have to learn to deal with this a little bit differently. The mechanics will always be part of it, but we have to find some different approaches. We are aware of some possibilities out there and we just have to decide which is the best approach to take and get Andre on board.
Reporter: Are you talking about like hypnosis or something?
Van Gundy: There's a lot of things on board that we're looking at. We haven't sat down and had that meeting yet. There's, I would say, four or five different ways you can go and try to figure out which is best and go from there. But we haven't had discussion yet as far as things sorta outside the box.
Reporter: Do you have a gut feeling on the rule that will be changing. Silver seems to be...
Van Gundy: They're going to do something with the rule, but I have no idea what. There's a lot of things they could do with the rule that would have no real, practical impact. If the rule is simply going to be that I simply can't run down and grab the guy, well then coaches will just get more creative. They'll foul the guy as he's rebounding the ball on a free throw. They'll foul the guy as he's coming up to set a screen. They'll foul the guy as he's running down the court on a fastbreak. There's a lot of things they could do with that rule that really wouldn't impact it at all. Other than maybe...ya know...the way people look at it. I don't know what their thought is even. If they truly want to get rid of the intentional fouling away from the ball or if they just want to make that aesthetically more pleasing in the way you do it. I don't know. And until we know, again, I'm not lobbying anybody, I'm not...we'll just wait until whatever changes they make, if any, and we'll go forward with that.
Reporter: Do you feel cursed? It's followed you from Shaq to Howard to...
Van Gundy: The only thing I would say is it's different - it's a lot different now. In two ways. Number one, it just wasn't used that extensively. It's really changed in the last couple of years. With Shaq, Don Nelson did it pretty extensively. People would grab him if you tried to throw him the ball late in the game. But there wasn't a lot of, other than Don Nelson, a lot of people grab...and even with Dwight, the years I had him, it was desperation late in the game [if] nothing else worked. We never, other than Mark Jackson one game in Golden State, we never saw it in the first half. We almost never saw it in the third quarter. It just wasn't out there as much. And then the other thing is, quite honestly, those guys were both...I mean Dwight's a 57-percent career free throw shooter, something like that. Shaq's 52 or 53-percent career free throw shooter. It's different. It's apples and oranges of my previous experiences compared to what it is now. And I think that's one of the reason the league office and Adam Silver are looking at it, because it's changed. It's not a once in a while thing now. It's certainly every meaningful game it's gonna be used. Maybe more extensively by some, less extensively by others, but virtually everyone uses it.
Reporter: Stan, I was wondering, how much is the Andre Drummond thing at the free throw line mental. Because sometimes he looks like he doesn't want to be on the free throw line. Another suggestion has been thrown out: would you guys consider having him go underhand as a free throw shooter?
Van Gundy: First of all, yeah, a lot of it's mental. I think that any of us - we've all got experience with that, right? Anything, I'm not just talking sports, anything it is that we don't do well and we're trying to get better at, there's two things: there's the physical part of it but then there's the mental approach and your confidence and everything else. I don't care if it's a golf swing or anything else. There's always a mental approach. When you've struggled at something for a long time, it becomes a great approach. As far as shooting underhand or anything else I think it's fair to say, my discussion with Andre yesterday, and the discussions Jeff and I have had, and our staff, is I think right now everything's on the table. It won't be a unilateral decision. We'll do some research on some things and come up with what we think is a good approach, talk to Andre and see what he thinks - because you've got to have his buy in on it - and develop an approach going forward. We all know it's an important thing, Andre more than any of us, I think he's pretty open to anything. But there's a lot of ways to attack this problem. We'll all have a hand in it.
Reporter: The whole underhand free throw thing, it would take a while to develop the skill, you'd have to shoot the ball in the traditional form for a while while you were developing this skill, wouldn't those be two competing things...
Van Gundy: Well, I don't know, probably over the summer you could change. Shoot them with your other hand like Tristan Thompson did. Or shoot them underhand. Again...literally, everything's on the table. We've just got to find what we think is the best approach, get a buy in from Andre so that he's sold on this is the best approach, and we've all got to move forward with it and do it the best that we can. I think the one thing we do know is the traditional approach and nothing else of simply trying to correct mechanics and going in the gym and shoot a lot of free throws has not worked. So we've got to go somewhere else with that. We've got to be a little more creative in how we're going to approach it. That's really all I can say right now. I think everybody's got some ideas and we just need to sit down, there will be a group of about four or five of us, and sit down and talk about it and come up with the best approach and move forward on it. And it might be more than one thing. But certainly, there's a mental aspect of it that has to be addressed. I don't care what we do physically, there's a mental aspect of it that in some way has to be addressed.
Would Drummond buy in to trying underhand free throws?
Let me make this clear.... I'm not shooting free throws underhand.. #Relax— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummondd) August 17, 2013
Granted, that was nearly three years ago. On the brink of getting a lot of money, maybe he's willing to make that change. There are arguments that even though Rick Barry did so well underhand, that it isn't for everyone. It may not work for Drummond. But maybe he should be willing to try it.