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Size, versatility drew Pistons to Gbinije

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Michael Gbinije, right, is 6-foot-7 and can play all three perimeter positions.

Auburn Hills — It was an odd morning after the NBA draft for Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy.

While he was still giddy about getting big man Henry Ellenson at No. 18 in the first round, he almost had to justify picking Michael Gbinije in the second round (No. 49) instead of local favorite Kay Felder, a point guard from Oakland University.

Felder was selected 54th by the Hawks, who then traded his rights to the world-champion Cavaliers.

“We liked a lot of traditional point guards,” Van Gundy said Friday. “(Indiana’s) Yogi Ferrell, we liked him, and we had him as a first-round pick, but behind Michael — and we liked Kay but we had Kay a little behind him. If we thought he was the next-best guy, we would have done that.”

The Pistons, however, decided to go for a bigger and more versatile option in Gbinije, who is 6-foot-7 and can play all three perimeter positions. Van Gundy said the Pistons coveted Gbinije’s size and versatility, and that passing on Felder was no slight on his potential.

“The trade-off is Michael can play three different positions, we think, and his size and everything else,” Van Gundy said. “How much point guard he can play and to the question of whether we only sign one point guard (in free agency), that’s something we’ll decide in summer league.”

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Van Gundy said the plan is to have Gbinije start at point guard in Summer League, which begins next week, and work with second-year wings Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard.

“I want him to see him in that situation, not to evaluate him as a player because position is not that important,” Van Gundy said. “It could affect what we do in free agency in a minor way.”

Free agency next

Although the Pistons added two pieces they believe can help them improve next season, they still have a coupleof needs to address in free agency, which begins July 1.

Van Gundy said they’ll pursue a veteran point guard and another power forward.

“I would say probably a slight edge to backup point guard, especially after (the draft),” Van Gundy said. “We got a guy in Henry that provides us with that size. Ideally, we’d come out of there with both.”

The Pistons have about $15 million in cap space.

“If the playoffs every year teach you anything, it’s that you’ve got to have a versatile roster to be able to answer things that come up — and that’s one we couldn’t answer last year,” Van Gundy said. “Henry starts us on that path. I’d like to get one more guy like Henry, a (power forward) who can play some (center) but is big enough to guard guys like that.”

Change the system

Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis and his drop to the second round was a big story, but Van Gundy said it’s part of the change that needs to come in the system.

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Van Gundy said he’d be in favor of players being allowed to return to college even after the draft — and if they don’t like their position — or maybe requiring players to stay in college three years before declaring for the draft.

“I don’t really know what’s best as far as years they have to stay,” Van Gundy said. “I think the thing I like about the baseball draft, is they ought to be able to go through the draft and still go back. We ask guys to come out based on the information you hear and then they’re stuck.

“I think they should let them sign with agents as freshmen in college.”

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard