Auburn Hills — Tom Gores usually says something illuminating, if not eye-raising, when he swoops into the Metro Detroit area to visit his team.
Playoff declarations or statements that foreshadow coaching dismissals 50 games into a season are certainly on his docket. As he strolled confidently into Pistons' Media Day Monday, he wouldn't dip a toe into those waters.
"Bold (predictions)?" asked Gores rhetorically. "When Stan and I met, the thing we agreed on was trying to win now and not sacrificing the future. We haven't won in a long time."
The Pistons haven't won since Gores took over as owner at the end of the 2010-11 season, and are the only Eastern Conference team to miss the playoffs every year this decade. He touted himself and, by proxy, the Pistons fan base as "lucky" for landing Stan Van Gundy as coach and president of basketball operations.
While some would make the case it took Gores to offer Van Gundy the combo meal to get him to Detroit, he's proud nonetheless and couldn't contain his optimism for the coming season.
"Stan's dedicated. He's in every single detail," Gores said. "The players know where they stand."
The most important player this offseason was Greg Monroe, who couldn't come to terms with the Pistons on a deal this summer, preferring to sign a one-year qualifying offer that will make him an unrestricted free agent next summer.
"Greg's a great player, not just a good player," Gores said. "We want Greg to be on board for a long time. We'll have a good enough season where we'll attempt to do that.
"We talked to his representatives. We said how much we respected Greg as a person. But ultimately it's Greg's choice. We were disappointed we couldn't make the ultimate deal, of course. Just because we didn't make the deal isn't the end all."
Whether that's more a reflection on Gores and the direction of the Pistons franchise as a whole or to Monroe's want to test the market next summer remains an unanswered question.
And whether this is the year the Pistons emerge from the doldrums of mediocrity or find themselves back in the lottery is anyone's guess.
Gores wouldn't fan the flames of expectations and considering how the NBA will view the Pistons this October compared to last season, it was probably a conscious effort on his part.
"I don't want to go into any season not expecting to win," he said.
It still didn't stop him from addressing the team in a team meeting before the Media Day festivities, along with Van Gundy, in addition to meeting with players and their families, and team employees old and new over the weekend.
"I want to have a team we're proud of," Gores said. "One of the things I told that team was if we'll lose, let's lose the right way. We want to win, yes. I want to put a team on the floor that you can be proud of."
The Beverly Hills financier was part-salesman, part-defender of his investment in terms of lobbing a shot at Detroit businessman and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert when he said, "I think Stan said it best, that Dan should run his own team. And I've been real nice to Dan. But I think Stan took on that fight."
Gilbert has been critical of Gores, publicly urging Gores to move the Pistons downtown, likely as a partner to the Ilitch family, as ground just broke on a new hockey venue to replace Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit mayor Mike Duggan also has publicly stated his desire for the Pistons to leave Oakland County, despite the continued improvements to The Palace of Auburn Hills.
"Congrats to the Ilitches, they're a real legacy in town. I respect them a lot," Gores said. "We'll always talk to the mayor, we'll talk to anybody. Detroit is … we should be together. But I've always said, let's not leave out the state of Michigan. Detroit's important. We'll entertain whatever is correct."
But more central to Pistons fans is turning a franchise around and getting back to the playoffs, a tangible sign to a basketball-starved fan base things are truly on an upward trajectory.
"We have great players and we have to pull it together," Gores said. "You can move a city more when you win."