Pistons grinding into shape in first practice
Auburn Hills — The pomp and circumstance of Media Day's crazy and fun activities, silly photos and videos were replaced by the reality of training camp's grind.
Legs were certainly wobbly as Stan Van Gundy's first practice had plenty of guests in the Pistons' practice facility, the first in their league-allotted six two-a-day practices to be held over the monthlong training camp.
Van Gundy said training camps are hard and if the tone of the first workout is any indication, this one will be true to his declaration as the Pistons went more than three hours Tuesday morning — which turned into afternoon.
The executive turned into a teacher, his more natural role — or at the least the known commodity in his rolodex of attributes at the NBA level.
"We give them whole, part then whole," Van Gundy said. "We give them the whole thing, we go out and play with scrimmage situations, then we go and break it down into parts and getting more into the details, then putting it back together."
On Media Day, Van Gundy wouldn't divulge any long-term goals for the season, preferring to keep it to the base of: "I say this, not even jokingly, I want them to run back on defense tomorrow in scrimmage. That's my goal. If you want my team goals, that's it."
So when asked if the first day went as planned for the team that finished 23rd in fast break points on the defensive end, he deadpanned with his own brand of humor.
"No. But we started getting back on defense, then fatigue and everything else (kicked in)," Van Gundy said. "We played three quarters of games. Over the course of three hours we had tired legs."
"Any team can do it and do it well. All it takes is a commitment and great effort. That's something we can totally control."
Whether it's in the mold of breaking old habits or merely developing good ones, Van Gundy's voice will be heard and heard loudly, with defense being the focus. And him having both titles might have players learning to take his coaching a little easier, as he's admittedly direct and harsh when need be.
"You know how the league is now. Guys go to their agents for this or that," said Caron Butler, referring to players complaints. "And Stan will turn around like, it's me again, I'm the president too. You gotta talk to me again. You gotta deal with him, one way or the other."
And although nobody believes Van Gundy, he repeated the mantra that there are no guaranteed starters, not even Andre Drummond at center, or to a lesser extent, Brandon Jennings at point guard.
"I guess coach said all options are open," Butler said. "(But) one of the reasons I came here was because of those guys and the upside of those guys. We're here to make those guys better."
With Greg Monroe suspended for the first two games of the season, Aaron Gray was likely in line to get some playing time at the backup center spot.
But after a workout in late August resulted in what the team termed as a "cardiac episode" in a press release, Gray will miss training camp.
He is seeking a second opinion from doctors as to what his next step will be.
"The body's responding very well right now," Gray said on Media Day,.
He said he could tell "something wasn't right" after his workout.
"We're in the process of getting as much information as possible and going from there."
The team signed Hasheem Thabeet to its training camp roster but with 16 guaranteed contracts, it seems unlikely he'll make the opening night roster and at least for a short while, the Pistons' depth could be stripped away.