New York — The Pistons front office convened a meeting of the minds on Thursday morning. The topic du jour was looking at options to fill the open roster spot and possibly to consider some trade options.
It could be an addition from the development league, even though both their two-way players, Dwight Buycks and Luis Montero, already are on the main roster. They might consider another player for a 10-day contract or maybe even some of the trades that have been bandied about — and some others that haven’t been reported.
Whatever the case, it seems that all options are on the table for discussion.
“We’ve considered some guys; we’ve obviously got an open spot and right now we haven’t pulled the trigger on anything but it’s something we’re looking at,” Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy said Wednesday. “We’re going to sit down (Thursday) as a group and see if there’s anything we want to do at this point.”
The Pistons (22-18) are nearing the halfway point of the season and are coming off the 114-80 thrashing of the Brooklyn Nets and have four games in the next seven days, including Saturday at Chicago.
With Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer recovering from severe ankle sprains, they’re having to dig into their reserves for more minutes, which has been taxing on players such as Anthony Tolliver and Buycks, who are playing bigger roles. Stanley Johnson returned against the Nets and saw his first action after missing five games because of a hip flexor.
Buycks is showing that he can handle the bigger role, scoring in double figures for the fourth time in the last five games, with a career-best 17 points in 24 minutes. In his two-way contract, he can be with the Pistons for 45 days, but the team can retain him at the smaller salary before converting him to a fully guaranteed contract up to the 45th day.
“He’s played well. He’s attacked and played aggressively; he can score the ball,” Van Gundy said. “We’re looking for defensive improvement but for a guy who’s been in the situation he’s been in, he’s been hurt for most of the year.”
There are other options as well, but one possibility is getting a forward to fill in for some minutes with Tolliver and the role Leuer would have played.
The Pistons ran the pick-and-roll play with Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris frequently and at will, as the Nets had trouble stopping it. The pair combined for 21 points in the first quarter, showing the chemistry that they’re building.
Part of it requires Harris, the team’s leading scorer, to be more of a willing passer, which hasn’t been his traditional role.
“It’s more of a trust thing now. Playing with Tobias these past few years, he’s never been used to passing the ball — period,” Drummond said. “That’s not his job. It’s coming down to where teams are playing him tougher where he’s forced to make a decision: take a tough shot or make the next play.
“He’s gotten good at finding me around the rim and making lob passes and swinging the ball to the weak side and getting threes up. He’s done a good job of adjusting to playing free without thinking about the game.”
Harris, who had 22 points against the Nets, has been the offensive catalyst this season, with Drummond going out of the post more and facilitating offense. It’s worked well, as Harris hones his game, with some encouragement from Drummond.
“I constantly talk to Tobias. He’s very hard on himself; he wants to be perfect throughout the whole game. I stay in his ear about keeping his head in the game and worrying about other things before scoring,” Drummond said. “We look to him to score, so I tell him not to worry about a missed shot. He’s in a space right now that we need him to continue to stay in. When he plays like that, he makes my job a lot easier and everybody has a lot more fun.”
The Pistons are starting to look more like themselves as they get a bit healthier. Johnson wasn’t sharp offensively, but the first step for him is to move better and regain full range of motion with his hip.
Van Gundy was happy with the way Johnson played and will continue to ramp up minutes as he shows he’s able to bear it.