Auburn Hills — While the Pistons are 5-21, and there's no measurable hope in sight, they're turning their attention to the trade market.
If they put out a tweet or a Craigslist ad, it would likely read: "Desperate franchise looking for a change. Stars welcome, but high-energy players are desirable."
They probably wouldn't put out a sign that says "everyone must go," but the feeling could be close to that in Auburn Hills. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy confirmed his franchise is making calls to other teams to shake things up.
"Yeah, we're looking to get better and we're looking to put ourselves in a better place down the road, too," Van Gundy said. "We're active, we're talking to people."
Long bemoaning the lack of energy on a nightly basis, Van Gundy was open about what he's looking for, what the Pistons are probing other franchises for. When he took over in May, he said he wanted tough players who were smart and could shoot.
After 26 games, Van Gundy has added "energy" to the list of attributes.
"I think we need, maybe it goes along with tough, but it can be different," Van Gundy said. "But we need high energy guys. You say energy but part of that is quickness. Slow guys will never look 'high-energy.'
"We've had trouble keeping up. We're a step behind defensively. The game's changed some things. Quickness, length, people who can really cover some ground, I think would be another thing."
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope covers a lot of ground with his speed, while Andre Drummond has begun to show the flashes of what made Van Gundy want the job in the first place. Kyle Singler and Jodie Meeks have played with high energy, but apparently Van Gundy feels the Pistons are lacking those type of players.
"We're not playing with enough energy," said Van Gundy. "That's the issue and however we address it, we address it, here, personnel moves or whatever."
Of course, Van Gundy has the unique situation of being president of basketball operations, but he's not making the trade calls to other franchises. He merely sets the course, and general manager Jeff Bower does the legwork.
"We're 5-21. I don't think you need to say a whole lot else," said Van Gundy, shrugging. "I'm just being honest. Of course we're talking to people to see if there's things we can do for now and positioning ourselves for the future. We're not happy with where we are now. I still think we can play a lot better. It's frustrating to me as a coach."
With their winning percentage being below the Mendoza line, Van Gundy can't say he's done a great job cultivating the talent he inherited. But he has the power to change the personnel and chart the course of whether moves will be made to salvage the season or to look ahead — although he would never directly admit to throwing away a season.
Of course, the Pistons have put Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith on the market, probably along with countless others aside from Drummond. Singler and Jonas Jerebko are approaching free agency, so they could be pieces other teams would request.
But even though 26 games are enough for Van Gundy to have a handle on what his team is or isn't in sum, the career-low individual numbers for several players don't seem to have an effect on potential trade partners and their apparent reception to inquiries.
"No, not specifically. People aren't judging players on 26 games," Van Gundy said. "I don't think that's a problem at all. People know who these guys are."
Raptors at Pistons
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Palace of Auburn Hills
TV/radio: FSD/105.1 FM
Outlook: The Raptors own the best record in the East and lead the conference in point differential (+8.6 points per game). … The Pistons have lost 11 straight at home, a franchise record.