Stan Van Gundy is not someone interested in the bargain bin, for better or for worse. As an executive, he defers to his staff to identify the best talent, but he knows what he needs he's not afraid to grab it.
He knew he wanted a quick, penetrating point guard. He knew he wanted a stretch power forward that could also slide to center. He then spent a combined $60 million on NBA vagabonds Ish Smith and Jon Leuer, who were both formally introduced as members of the Detroit Pistons on Friday.
Maybe he could have gotten them slightly cheaper or largely similar players on greatly reduced deals, but that is not how Van Gundy operates. He sees players that are talented, that fit and that are only missing an opportunity and he gives them that opportunity.
"So much of it in the NBA is just getting to the right situation and getting an opportunity," Van Gundy said.
An opportunity is really what Leuer and Smith have been chasing their whole careers.
"For both me and Ish," Leuer said, "we've been through a different road in this league. There were times when teams weren't calling us."
In his sixth year, Leuer is about to play for his fifth team. Smith is about to join his 10th team in six years. They haven't been chasing success or chasing money, they've just been trying to scratch out a living and a role in the NBA.
In Detroit, they've finally found it.
"It's been a journey but everybody's journey isn't the same," Smith said about finally finding some stability after years of a nomadic basketball existence.
Van Gundy didn't concern himself with the fact that he was committing major dollars to two players who combined made less than $2 million last season.
"The fact that they're not the biggest names means absolutely nothing to us," Van Gundy said. "In fact, I kinda like those kind of guys."
While both Leuer and Smith are light on track records and sustained success, Van Gundy believes that he has found two quality players who will flourish in Detroit.
Leuer emphasized his versatility on offense both as a shooter, driver and scorer down low. He said just as important was his ability to guard the perimeter and the paint and play both the four and the five.
Van Gundy admitted that positional versatility was important, especially because of what his team experienced in the playoffs against Kevin Love and the Cavs.
"We simply weren't big enough up front. We had our centers and then we were going to play at 6-8."
Van Gundy said it wasn't as simple as adding size, though, as they also wanted someone who could credibly defend the perimeter and the paint and not sacrifice a lot of the shooting out of the power forward spot that they enjoyed last season.
Leuer, Van Gundy said, was really the only option that checked off all the boxes. He also admitted he'd been trying to lure Leuer to Detroit for the past two years.
He's finally got it.
Smith said his role in Detroit will be to push the pace and find shooters. He believes he can excel in Van Gundy's pick-and-roll scheme, and knows and respects Van Gundy well from his experience in Orlando in 2011-12.
Van Gundy praised his scouts for identifying Smith and Leuer as possible targets early in the process. He said his staff watched 90 percent of their games and knows that their evaluations are thorough and not influenced by an occasional good performance.
With the signing, Van Gundy said he has the deepest roster since joining the Pistons two years ago.
"I really feel like we've got four guys that can play at each position," Van Gundy said.