Pistons gauge trade market as deadline looms
Auburn Hills — For the past few weeks, Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower have been all ears. Ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, they’ve admittedly tried to gauge the market for any of their players, listening to offers, but so far, not making any moves.
It’s making for a potentially hectic couple of hours before the deadline, as rumors continue to swirl that they’re considering trading starters such as Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
While the Pistons (27-30) have listened to offers, Van Gundy said Tuesday that he hasn’t engaged in any “serious discussions” for Drummond, though there have been discussions. Whether the roster stays the same past the deadline is still up in the air — and though they’d like to improve the roster, there is no specific area of need they’re looking to fill.
“We haven’t gone into any of this with any specific goal in mind of what we want to try to do, if anything. We’ve been more open to listening and looking at things,” Van Gundy said Wednesday. “Even though we’re three games under .500, I like our roster and don’t think there’s a significant hole — we’ve just got to play better. We’ll see going forward.
“It hasn’t been what we would like it to be to this point. We still have a lot of young guys with room for improvement and guys coming into their prime. Sometimes it’s not the straight line you want it to be.”
Entering the season, the Pistons had higher expectations, possibly of reaching as high as the fourth or fifth seed this season, but injuries have tempered those visions and they sit in the eighth spot, just two games behind the sixth-place Indiana Pacers.
Van Gundy has been, at times, impatient but he doesn’t want to do anything hasty in order to try to potentially improve their playoff standing only marginally. The more prudent avenue appears to be to stay the course and look for things to improve.
“It’s not always the straight line you want it to be and it can be frustrating, but at the same time, I don’t think you want to panic and blow up your roster because you’re not quite where you want to be,” Van Gundy said.
“I still like what we have; we have a lot of assets and good players. We’ve got to play better. The frustrating thing for me is the coaching end of it because we’re better than what I’ve been able to get out of them so far.”
Beyond the more popular names in the rumor mill, the Pistons also will make a decision on Caldwell-Pope, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, with a salary in the range of at least $20 million.
It’s an interesting situation for Caldwell-Pope — whom Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported also could be on the trade market. Van Gundy said it’s a consideration that the Pistons have discussed and will have to make a decision, either now or in the summer, with input from team owner Tom Gores.
“We’ve talked about that a great deal; that’s been one of the big talks about this whole thing. You know what’s coming in terms of finances and where that puts us on our roster,” Van Gundy said. “That’s something you have to make decisions about and deal with. I’m not getting into specifics at this point, but that has been a significant part of what we’ve talked about.
“He was probably the most urgent decision because of that and the money coming and what it means in terms of the cap and the (luxury) tax. We’ve talked about it internally and we’ve talked about it with Tom. We know exactly what’s coming and we’re making informed decisions.”
Van Gundy said he spent the All-Star break working on coaching tweaks that could help in the final stretch of 25 games. That includes a focus on defense and tightening up the pick-and-roll defense, and in turn, having that help the offense.
“We’ve tried to work on some things offensively too but we’ve struggled all year offensively. We want to work on our offense but when you’re struggling to score, you have to defend,” Van Gundy said. “But also, where we’ve been good offensively is in transition on misses — that’s where our efficiency has been up.
“Getting stops is not just a defensive thing for us, but being able to get stops and rebound the ball helps our offense a great deal because we’ve been a pretty good offensive team in transition; we’ve struggled in the half-court, so if we’re taking the ball out of the net all night long, then we’re going to struggle some offensively.”
Pistons vs. Hornets
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, The Palace of Auburn Hills
Outlook: The Pistons (27-30) start the second half just a game out of the No. 7 spot and two games out of sixth. They’ve won two of the three matchups this season against the Hornets (24-32), who have lost 9 of the last 10.