Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores: ‘We have to look at everything’

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /

It’s a year of transition for the Detroit Pistons and it seems owner Tom Gores is coming to grips that contending looks bleak without swift change.

The Detroit Pistons lost their ninth game over the last 11 and owner Tom Gores acknowledged that the team is taking a different trajectory in a season marked by injuries.

While the Pistons are off to a 12-23 start, they still sit 3 1/2 games behind the Orlando Magic for the Eastern Conference’s eighth playoff spot. Contrarily, they have the sixth-worst record in the NBA and play the Golden State Warriors (9-27), who have the second-worst record in the league, on Saturday.

Detroit has the toughest path to the playoffs with the hardest schedule in the NBA in March. It isn’t getting any better and Gores knows it.

“We have to look at everything because we’re not winning so when you’re not winning to me, you have to assess everything. I think anybody would want to do that.,” Gores told reporters on Thursday.

The evaluation will come over the next month. The Pistons close the road trip with a meeting with the West-leading Lakers (27-7) on Saturday before meeting Central Division-foe Cleveland on Jan. 7.

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That game against Cleveland begins a 20-day stretch where the Pistons will play 11 games with nine coming against teams with a losing record. But the Pistons problems go beyond poor play.

Reggie Jackson has missed all but two games with a back injury and, despite positive news in December, hasn’t had an update in nearly one month. Blake Griffin missed the first 10 games of the season with a knee injury and his 15th total against his former Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. Luke Kennard is out with bilateral knee tendinitis and will be reevaluated next week.

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Only Langston Galloway has played all 35 games this season. Eleven Pistons have played in 20-plus games. Even Pistons ironman Andre Drummond, who is tied for sixth in the NBA in games played (575) since entering the league in 2012-13, missed a pair of games due to an allergic reaction to avocados in Mexico City.

Gores sounds as if the Pistons will not only evaluate internally but externally to see how other teams have rebuilt and what success that led to, such as the Philadelphia 76ers tanking under then-GM Sam Hinkie.

“I think we’re going to reevaluate and we have to as an organization and just take a look and see what makes sense and then what doesn’t,” Gores said.

Pistons brass drafted well in their first draft, finding Bruce Brown in the second round. He has started 83 of 108 career games since being selected by senior advisor Ed Stefanski and Dwane Casey. He’s developed into a lock-down defender and has shown potential at point guard.

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Sekou Doumbouya made his first career start on Thursday, selected 15th overall last June, and became the fourth Pistons rookie in the last 30 years to record a double-double, joining Grant Hill, Theo Ratliff and Henry Ellenson. He scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Fellow teammate Jordan Bone is having success with the Grand Rapids Drive, showing a NBA future along with undrafted rookie Louis King. Evaluating talent doesn’t seem to be an issue with this Pistons regime.

But that’s about to be tested. The Pistons hold all their first-round picks through 2026, according to RealGM, but are without a second round pick this season. Buying second round picks are possible but the Pistons already have one of the league’s youngest rosters with an average age of 25.8, not including two-way guys in Bone (22) and King (20).

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Detroit will only have $51 million of guaranteed money on the books heading into the offseason. One question that looms large is what will happen with Drummond and his $28.8 million player option for the 2020-21 season, or if he opts for free agency or signs an extension at a different value with the Pistons.

“Andre is gonna have to make his choice,” Gores said. “Andre is a great player. So, we’ll just see. All these things are unknowns and like you said, it’s kind of difficult to filter through all this injury bad luck.”

It’s going to be a year of transition for the Pistons, which was known coming in. The roster has veterans on favorable contracts (i.e. Derrick Rose, Langston Galloway and Markieff Morris) that could attract some attention on the trade market. It also has young players primed to lead a rebuild in Kennard, Doumbouya – the youngest player in the league – and Brown.

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