Pistons make no moves at trade deadline
Auburn Hills — Thursday’s NBA trade deadline came and went without much fanfare for Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy.
Just a few hours before the 3 p.m. deadline, Van Gundy hinted that discussions were slow in the past few days and he turned out to be right. Despite several reports that the Pistons were actively shopping three of their best players — Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson — Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower decided to stand pat with their team.
The Pistons entered the day in the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference, just one game behind the Chicago Bulls and two behind the Indiana Pacers.
“We’ve placed a very high value on our guys but we’ll listen to anybody who’s talking, too, because we want to get better,” Van Gundy said Thursday, before the deadline.
Those talks never progressed to the serious stage, so the Pistons will finish the final 25 games of the regular season with their roster intact.
Van Gundy sensed that there was some tension and anxiety among his players as the trade deadline approached and before Wednesday’s practice, he addressed the team about the rumors flying around and leveled with them.
The impromptu talk caught some of the players off guard, as some of the veterans are used to handling the barrage of trade talk ahead of the trade deadline.
“I said to them (Wednesday) at the beginning of practice: ‘I know it’s on everybody’s mind, but if I told you I’d never trade you, would you believe me anyway?’” Van Gundy said after Thursday’s shoot-around. It’s the NBA and you have to deal with this; it’s part of playing in this league. Coaches go through it too as far as job security and rumors. If you’re going to be in this business, you’ve got to deal with that stuff.
“I almost purposely did not try to reassure guys. You’re in professional basketball — you have to grow up and tough it out and play. We’ll talk about the whole process tomorrow after everybody knows what’s going on and just see what we can learn from it.”
Van Gundy said in recent weeks that any or all of the Pistons players were available for trade — for an adequate return package — in a sobering and honest admission from a team president, but addressing it in a team meeting was unusual as well.
“It was a little awkward because he brought it up and I don’t think we were thinking about it,” Jackson said Thursday. “It might have put it in the back of people’s minds. He talked about it and my mindset was not to focus on it and worry about practice.”
Jackson said they the mindset was to focus on Thursday night’s game against the Charlotte Hornets and the remaining 25 games of the season, looking to make a playoff push. For his part, Jackson said he tries to unplug from social media and TV so that he doesn’t get overloaded with the chatter.
Van Gundy said the Pistons would continue through the deadline to listen to offers from other teams, but classified this year’s activity ahead of the final hours as slower than in previous years.
“It’s probably less busy (for me). The day before the deadline the last two years, we’ve had stuff we were working on,” Van Gundy said. “I was in bed at 9 last night … There really hasn’t been much going on. From my standpoint, it’s been the least busy of the three years I’ve been here.”
As the final hours ticked away, Van Gundy wasn’t encouraged that there would be any moves.
“It’s pretty rare that something would come out of the blue in the last three hours. Things could get finalized then but it would be things you talked about and worked on,” he said. “I’m not anticipating being very surprised at 2:55 that someone calls and offers you a 10-time All-Star or something; I’m not really expecting that.”
Before the All-Star break, Van Gundy said he thought he would spend more time coaching than combing through trades. That meant some examination of playing rotations and trying to improve for a possible run to the playoffs.
There weren’t significant moves among the starters, but the potential changes he had in mind were the same ones that he’s had all season: Reggie Bullock and Boban Marjanovic. The problem, though, is that Van Gundy generally likes to use a nine-player rotation and just ride the hot hand, if needed.
“I looked at everything. I don’t think there was anything new. The two guys I always give thought to are Bullock — because he does some things offensively that help us — and Boban, but I like the other guys too,” Van Gundy said. “Those are the guys in my mind who can help us.
“As far as combinations, it’s probably one of the reasons we’ve played better, but we’re playing the combinations that have worked best for us.”