Detroit — Entering Monday’s matinee against the Chicago Bulls and the midway point of the season, the Pistons find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race.
At 22-18, they hold the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference with a half game lead over the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics and are just three games behind the No. 2 Toronto Raptors.
After Monday’s announcement of the Pistons six-year, $600,000 commitment with the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center to renovate the gym and advance academics, owner Tom Gores said he has liked what he has seen from his team through 40 games.
“I think we’re doing pretty good. I loved the win the other day (a 113-95 victory Saturday over the defending champion Golden State Warriors). I mean, come on. It’s a pretty good win,” Gores said.
“Honestly the best thing about it is the tone that’s being set and these players are good players. They have a very nice chemistry and they’re team first, not just individuals. Beyond a win or a loss, I like what we’re creating.”
Since Gores took over ownership of the team in 2011, the Pistons have finished toward the bottom of the standings and failed to make the playoffs each year.
That can all change this season with the Pistons on pace to snap a six-year playoff drought and finish above .500 for the first time since the 2007-08 season, something Gores said can be attributed to the team’s chemistry.
“It took (coach) Stan (Van Gundy) a little time to pull it together,” Gores said. “He’s very much based around how chemistry works and certain players being able to work with each other. That’s been the biggest difference (from past teams).”
In addition to the team’s new funding and partnership program, it was announced that the gym would be rededicated as the Detroit Pistons court and center Andre Drummond would serve as the team’s ambassador for the community center. But with Drummond set to become a restricted free agent and contract talks tabled until the summer, how long he will be able to serve as a player liaison remains to be seen.
“He’s so committed. He’s all in,” Gores said of Drummond. “Obviously it will be Andre’s choice (to stay). He really just did the team-right thing. He gave us more flexibility and he’s a big guy for doing that.”
Gores, a Flint native, added that the new partnership and being able to help Detroit was personal for him.
“I just want to continue helping downtown in any way I can. As I said earlier, my experience in sports whether I was a kid playing or coaching, I’ve seen a direct impact it does to kids,” he said. “You can take lessons from the field or the court and put them right into life.
“Our whole goal is to give (kids) lessons of life and make sure they have fun but also just impact the future. Being impactful, you have to do it directly and I think we’re doing it on the ground. That’s critical than just doing it at the top, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Piston greats Dave Bing, Bob Lanier, Rick Mahorn, James Edwards and Earl Cureton were also on hand for the announcement as well as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.