Pistons switch to full-court press for free agents

Terry Foster
The Detroit News
Stan Van Gundy

Auburn Hills — Pistons officials view their team as one that is up and coming.

And they should, considering they drafted a player — 6-foot-6 forward Stanley Johnson of Arizona — on Thursday who provides toughness and grit.

And they look at Johnson as the voice for the future, as in free agents.

Now that he's a member of the Pistons, Johnson will be expected to be a recruiter to attract big-name free agents.

"My biggest concern is getting back to our winning ways on the floor," owner Tom Gores said. "The fact this is not a destination upsets me. This is the Midwest. There are people with great work ethic. The fact this is not a destination means we are doing something wrong."

With Johnson in hand, the Pistons can offer free agents a core of young, solid players like Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Spencer Dinwiddie.

But what can the Pistons offer? Class.

"It goes back to Tom's philosophy that he gave us," team president/coach Stan Van Gundy said. "If you are here a day, a year or 10 years, we want that time to be good. If you are coming out for a predraft workout, we will treat you well.

"It is not going to turn around overnight, but you do it time after time after time after time, you give people good impressions of the Detroit Pistons and the way we do things."

Show me

Van Gundy likes his core — Caldwell-Pope, Jackson, Drummond and Ersan Ilyasova.

Johnson, however, must prove what Van Gundy said about him — that he was the best player in the draft.

"We got tough competitive people who are going to get after it," Van Gundy said. "This is a good young core of really tough, competitive guys who are not going to back down from people physically."