Pistons coach discusses relationship with team owner. Rod Beard
Detroit — There are decisions to be made about the Pistons and team owner Tom Gores got an up-close-and-personal look at his group on Friday night, as he was in attendance for the matchup against the Chicago Bulls at Little Caesars Arena.
While the Pistons had struggled, losing 10 of their previous 12 games, and there were rumors swirling about the future of team president and coach Stan Van Gundy, Gores got to watch a 99-83 victory over the Bulls.
Even still, there are concerns and Gores said he has confidence in Van Gundy and isn’t going to make any hasty decisions, as they have regular communication about the state of the team.
“Stan and I talk every week and we just want to win — that’s it. That’s what we discussed: how we’re going to get this team to win. That’s been really important to us,” Gores said during a halftime impromptu interview session. “We know we’ve disappointed the fans and we haven’t won enough. I can tell you this team works really hard and Stan works hard. He’s been here for four years and has dedicated his whole life.
“We talked the other day and I’m not giving up on Stan and I’m not giving up on this team.”
The Pistons (30-36) are five games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, a disappointing turnaround from their 14-6 opening to the season, when they were one of the big stories.
Since then, they’ve fallen on hard times, just after they added Blake Griffin before the trade deadline, which also changed the trajectory of the season. They won four straight after Griffin’s arrival but have dropped into their current swoon of 10 losses in the last 12 games since that streak.
The recent malaise hasn’t soured Gores on Van Gundy as team president or head coach. The main focus remains fostering a winning culture.
Van Gundy understands the business, having coached for 20 years in the NBA, but also that winning is at a premium. His conversations with Gores have echoed that theme.
“He and I are totally on the same page. Our team is playing hard, I like the guys we’ve had,” Van Gundy said. “Some things have happened that are out of our control. At the same time, I’m not looking to make excuses.
“This business is about winning games and we haven’t been doing enough of that. At the end of the season, we’ll sit down and talk and he’s got to make a decision about the best way to go for the organization.”
While Gores didn’t have a ringing endorsement of Van Gundy’s performance this season, there are still 16 games left, which could have some determination on how things shake out.
“Stan and I talked the other day; we talked about winning and after the season, we’re going to sit down and talk (about the future),” Gores said. “He’s an honest, dedicated man who cares about this season and the franchise.”
The Pistons were 19-14 when Reggie Jackson suffered a severe ankle sprain; they’ve gone 10-22 in the span since the injury, derailing their season.
Gores said he’ll take those transitions into account, plus the final stretch of games to determine the best course to pursue.
“It’s hard to make that assessment (without Jackson). Stan and I have no excuses; we have to win,” Gores said. “That’s the way it is. We have to deliver and we haven’t but I think we will.”