Los Angeles — To be an owner of a team that nearly set a franchise-record losing streak, Tom Gores didn't appear to be an unhappy camper before his team played the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
The Pistons owner appeared to be downright giddy at the track he thinks his team is on, unwavering in his belief that Stan Van Gundy is the right man for both jobs he was hired to do.
"We'd love to have a better start but we have to work through it. We're gonna find our way," Gores said, inches away from his courtside seat at Staples Center.
"He's trying to bring leadership. He's being tough. What he's building with the players is his honesty and his transparency. Whether you're playing 40 minutes of five minutes, he's tough on everyone."
His support of Van Gundy is a stark contrast to his last public statements about his last coach, Maurice Cheeks, before he fired Cheeks after 50 games last season. The dripping disappointment in his voice then has been replaced by a palpable optimism that hasn't yet borne fruit.
"I'm really comfortable that he's doing the right things every day, and eventually it'll convert to wins," Gores said. "You guys know me well enough that if I wasn't confident, that I would give you signals that I wasn't."
The Pistons' modest two-game winning streak entering Monday night follows their miserable 13-game losing streak before they broke it Friday in Phoenix. The Beverly Hills-based financier and chairman of Platinum Equity said he hasn't been discouraged by the slow start to the season — despite his usual preseason claims about expecting his team to make the playoffs.
"Well it's tough and the hardest part for me, Stan wants to win so bad," Gores said. "He genuinely wants to see them make progress. The hardest part for me is everybody's working hard and when you're not winning and working hard that sucks.
"We gotta reassess what we're doing. That's what's great about Stan. He's not sitting around and sticking to the gameplan. He has different starting lineups at times. He reassesses things every single minute."
Gores believes the slow adjustment has taken longer than expected but believes the return of Jodie Meeks is the first step in climbing back to respectability.
"I think the system is different. Stan has a certain system he's trying to teach," Gores said. "We've got Jodie back. Jodie was a very strategic move on Stan's part to bring him in and bring some relief. I think Jodie's made a difference, already."
Another strategic move on Gores and Van Gundy's part was to not trade Greg Monroe over the offseason, and they didn't offer him a maximum salary contract, resulting in Monroe signing a one-year qualifying offer, and he'll be unrestricted next summer.
The Sporting News published a report saying the Pistons are looking to trade Monroe and that they're seeking a first-round pick in return.
"I'll tell you, everybody knows we tried to make a deal this summer and we didn't," Gores said. "We're so happy to have him on the court. You see his stats. He's a great player. So really the tricky thing is how do we get things to work together."
Clearly it hasn't yet worked, but Gores' optimism has not wavered.
"Stan's touching every piece," Gores said. "He's been around the league so long, he knows every player. He's leaving no stone unturned. I'm comfortable he's clearly checking everything. For me it gives me confidence that we'll find our way.
"We're 24 games in. He's in every single detail. For every player he has a plan for how they're gonna improve. As much as we're not winning I'm comfortable we're doing the right thing."