Auburn Hills — Pistons owner Tom Gores threw football-like passes of T-shirts into the stands during the fourth quarter of a rare rout by his team in the building he owns.
It belied his frustration as he assessed the first half of the season to date.
Safe to say, like Pistons fans and everyone associated with the team, the first 40 or so games have been a disappointment. Although Gores’ displeasure was evident, he’s hopeful for what’s to come in the next three months as the Pistons try to secure a playoff bid.
“I’m not satisfied with the job I’m doing. I’m not satisfied with the job anybody’s doing, including myself,” Gores said in the tunnel of The Palace on Saturday, moments after the Pistons’ 113-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. “These young men work really hard. It’s our job to make sure these guys are at their maximum, and I don’t think they’re at their maximum.”
At 19-27 — and considering the Pistons have given away a number of games this season with uneven fourth-quarter play — Gores said what most owners or general managers or coaches of an underperforming team would say: The record isn’t indicative of the talent assembled on the roster.
“We’re better than our record, and my focus is how to get this team to the next level,” Gores said. “I believe in the guys on this team. We’re better than we’ve shown. As much as I’m a little worried, I’m excited.”
“What are we, a game out? We’re not that far out. It’s frustrating because we’re better than our record. I see a lot of possibilities; we have to come together, we have to jell. I don’t think you can say our team and players don’t work hard. We just have to figure out how to work together.”
When asked his assessment of the job Pistons president Joe Dumars and first-year head coach Maurice Cheeks have done, Gores didn’t throw either under the bus — citing the youth on this team and the newness of the roster.
He also said he expects better results between now and April.
After all, he all but demanded the Pistons make the playoffs this season and wanted the Pistons to make a big splash in free agency, during which they signed Josh Smith, a player who didn’t necessarily fit the mold of what many expected the team should’ve been shopping for.
“Right now I’m patient, but I want to make sure we make adjustments if we have to make adjustments,” Gores said.
Subtly, though, one could say Gores wants the players to be better prepared for games, considering the Pistons are the fourth-youngest team and have the second-youngest starting lineup.
Whether he meant it or not, he wants more internal improvement as opposed to Dumars making a blockbuster move with the trade deadline looming Feb. 20.
Gores basically refuted the notion of the Pistons having to make a move.
“We’re focused on how we make our players better,” Gores said. “We haven’t done our best job in making sure they’re working at 100 percent. We have great young players. These are young men that need a lot of preparation. These are young men.”
He hasn’t — at least not publicly — demanded the Pistons make a drastic change to a roster that needs shooting in the worst way.
"We're doing a lot of homework. We're doing a lot of stuff,” Gores said. “Our main job is to make sure that all of our players, our guys, are at their maximum."
"I just know we've got work to do. I know we have work to do. So I'm not taken aback (by our record)."
Gores has been in town since mid-week, before the Pistons’ game against the Atlanta Hawks was canceled by inclement weather. In two brief media sessions Saturday, during the third quarter and immediately following the game, he made note of the team’s youth numerous times.
“We gotta help them out, and that’s what I’m focused on.”