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— With the preparation work nearly over, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is hoping for a smooth draft night Thursday.

"Draft night should be pretty easy," said Van Gundy, who hopes he and his staff have done their due diligence in evaluating prospects by the time the Pistons pick No. 8.

Said general manager Jeff Bower: "Our scouts have been working extensively over the last few days. We are building our boards, building our position breakdowns so we get to a point we have our board put together so we can sit back and tweak it. When it comes down to the first-round pick our board will do the selection for us."

The draft process, however, is not about Thursday alone. It's about Thursday and July 1, the day free agency opens.

That day, Van Gundy is hoping to find a solid veteran free agent he hopes can vie for a starting job. And he has nearly $19 million to go shopping.

The Pistons have talked to or seen 51 draft prospects the last three weeks, and have a few more on the schedule today before huddling for the final time to build their draft board.

"You have no control over what happens before you," Van Gundy said. "I think we are to the point where we are happy. We have our top eight and we would be happy with any of those.

"Who do you think is going to be the best guy three years down the road?" Van Gundy said. "That has been our focus. That is for any position."

The Pistons are in the market for a small forward or a big shooting guard. Based on the players the Pistons have brought in, they are looking for shooters.

Four of the five starting positions are set — Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the backcourt, Andre Drummond at center and Ersan Ilyasova at power forward. Greg Monroe, the starting power forward last season, is likely not re-signing, although Van Gundy didn't close the door on his return.

"The door is not closed," Van Gundy said. "We're not entirely optimistic on that situation, but the door is not closed because Greg would obviously fill one of the spots."

Rumor shot down

Van Gundy was annoyed by a rumor by a New York writer the Pistons are dangling injured guard Brandon Jennings to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway Jr. played at Michigan, and father, Tim Hardaway Sr., is a coach for the Pistons.

"If there has been discussion of that it has not been with Jeff or I," Van Gundy said. "I have absolutely no idea where that stuff comes from."

terry.foster@detroitnews.com

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