Every year, when the Detroit Pistons make their trip out to Los Angeles, home of Pistons Governor Tom Gores, he makes an effort to speak to the media directly. (Quick aside - not every owner does speaks to the media that regularly or freely. Gores doesn’t have to do that. Just sayin’.) Usually, he talks about how the season is going, and what that means for the team in that particular year. Last night was no exception.
Q: It’s a month before the trade deadline, where are you at philosophically? Are to the point where considering in another direction with another group of players?
Gores: “We have to look at everything because we’re not winning so if you’re not winning, you have to assess everything. I think anybody would want to do that and probably in the next month or so, we’re going to get together as an organization and just discuss things.”
Q: With the way things have played out, are you more willing to go in another direction than in years past?
Gores: “We have to win. Last year we were showing a lot of momentum. We were hoping to this year. A lot of things have gone well. We’re a good shooting team, but the end result is we’re not winning. Midway through this thing we have to discuss it. That’s the bottom line.”
This language - the desire to win - is usually a staple of Gores’ comments. Recall what he said after Game 4 against Milwaukee:
“A lot of people talk about this idea of, ‘do you want to win? Do you want to lose?’ ” Gores said. “We want to win. The idea … that losing is going to be good for you? That’s just not good for any of us. We just want to go and win.”
However, that talk about assessing and discussing things? That’s new. Last year around this time, Gores talked about staying the course:
“We’re very, very close,” Gores said. “We’ve just got to stay the course. I told them the other night, in my own business, around 2000, we could’ve busted as a business. We stayed the course. They have something very good going on.”
“I like this team,” Gores said. “I think they can work through the adversity. Whether we want to say it or not, this team expects to be in the playoffs. This team does expect excellence. You’ve got Andre (Drummond) and Blake (Griffin) out there -- these are major, major players and it does expect excellence.”
You would presume that one of the biggest things the Pistons have to assess and discuss is Andre Drummond’s upcoming player option decision. Gores spoke a little on that, as well:
“Andre’s going to have to make his choice. Andre’s a great player so we’ll just see. All these things are unknown.”
That’s... a little bit different than “We know how dedicated we are to each other.”
Reading the tea leaves on #Pistons team owner Tom Gores' comments, it seems that he sees the reality of the situation and is willing to shift gears to rebuild, if that's what it calls for.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) January 3, 2020
The consistent through-line of Gores’ public comments is that he wants the Detroit Pistons to win. He said as much when he hired Stan Van Gundy. He said as much when he fired Stan Van Gundy and hired Dwane Casey. He said as much last night. But when the assessment and discussion that he and Ed Stefanski have to have occurs, the possibility the Pistons steer into their young players and acquiring more young players is higher than it was in October.
Stefanski, for his part, has laid the groundwork for this - flipping Reggie Bullock for Svi Mykhailiuk and a future pick, taking the youngest player in the 2019 draft in Sekou Doumbouya, adding more young talent to the Grand Rapids Drive. If the Pistons do rebuild, they have the opportunity to do it relatively quickly - in two or three years instead of five or six. I’m sure that will be part of any rebuilding pitch Stefanksi makes to Gores, who, again, wants to win.
The season hasn’t gone the way the Detroit Pistons planned it would. Fans have no choice but to settle in and see what the new plan is going to be.