Asked specifically if he was panicked over the job performances of president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, who is in the final year of his contract, and/or first-year head coach Maurice Cheeks, Gores replied, "Right now I’m patient, but I want to make sure we make adjustments if we have to make adjustments."
"We’ve been focused really on the individual players," he said. "The fact is, we’re better than our record and I think we just have to make our players the best they can be. We have to focus on them. So we’re not focused on deadline or anything like that. We’re just focused on getting the guys better and preparing them."
"I’m not satisfied … our job is to make sure that the players are working at their maximum," he said. "So I’m not satisfied with the job I’m doing, I’m not satisfied with the job anybody’s doing right now, including myself.
"We have to get better and these young men work really, really hard. I feel like our job is to make sure that they are at their maximum and I don’t think they’re at their maximum."
"We’re not that far out," Gores said. "I think it’s frustrating because we’re better than our record. At the same time, there’s a lot of hope right now. I see a lot of possibilities. We have to come together. We have to jell.
"I don’t think you could say our team and our players don’t work hard. I think they work hard. So we just have to figure out how to work together."
"I actually don’t think we have done our best job to make sure they’re working at 100 percent," he said. "We have great young players. These are guys that need a lot of preparation. These are young men."
Approximately 90 percent of all NBA teams and 100 percent of losing NBA teams believe they’re better than their record. That type optimism gets few of them anywhere.
We’re 46 games through the season with just 36 games remaining. How much more is there to learn about this current group of players? As I’ve said all along, I expect the Pistons to make more internal in-season improvements than the average team – and I believe that will be true for the rest of the season, too. They have a lot of talent that hasn’t fit well immediately and could fit together a little better with more time.
But how much better?
The Pistons’ problems, both predicted and not, are very real. They’re 19-27 and even if their pieces mesh better the rest of the year, it’s difficult to see it getting better to the point the Pistons even near preseason predictions.
Gores should be frustrated, and he should be considering franchise-altering moves before the deadline. It’s not feasible to fire Joe Dumars now, and firing Maurice Cheeks is also probably a non-starter. But trades should be explored that put the team on a different course.
I don’t know what deals are available, so I wouldn’t say for certain the Pistons should make a trade. They definitely shouldn’t make a trade just for the sake of doing so. But it seems Gores is much more convinced than I am that this might be the roster to proceed with.
If nothing helpful emerges before the trade deadline, I can accept that. But if I were in Gores’ shoes, I’d be doing as much as possible to take advantage of these two-and-a-half weeks before Feb. 20. There’s a small window to improve via trade. Don’t squander it. After it closes, internal improvements can become the focus once again.
These Pistons – general manager, coach and players – aren’t working. I think they need more than just time for that to change significantly.