'We have to make more progress': Owner Gores weighs in after Pistons' hasty playoff exit
Detroit — In the aftermath of the four-game sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, Pistons owner Tom Gores had no regrets about his team’s progress in a season that began with a lot of change and include a flurry of injuries that limited them to a .500 finish.
The Pistons were on the losing end of another double-digit blowout, but Gores saw some improvement and progress in their struggles and vowed to continue on a path toward winning.
“We got in the playoffs and we didn’t match up well with Milwaukee; they had the best record in the league all year,” Gores said after the loss. “There were a lot of positives: Blake (Griffin), Andre (Drummond) and Reggie (Jackson) had a great game tonight. I take them forward and the team figured out how to get through adversity — that’s the No. 1 thing.”
The Pistons finished the regular season at 41-41 and had to win on the last night of the regular season to eke into the playoffs, but Gores pointed to the injuries to Griffin and Ish Smith that slowed their drive to a better seed in the postseason.
While they toed the line of not making the playoffs, Gores said there wasn’t any consideration toward losing on purpose — or tanking — in order to try to get a better draft pick, as many teams are doing around the league.
“We have to make more progress. A lot of people talk about the idea of winning or losing — we want to win. This idea of what happens in the league and losing is going to be good for you, well that’s not going to be good for any of us,” Gores said. “We just want to go and win — and we did.
“I just don’t believe in the idea of whatever you want to call it — tanking or losing. We need a winning culture and let’s just see what happens from there. I don’t think sports is about that. You can’t get on the court and think about losing. I just don’t believe in it … I’m not going to get into that business.”
When asked about what changes the Pistons might make in the offseason, Gores wouldn’t commit to anything specific, but indicated that he would work with senior adviser Ed Stefanski, vice chairman Arn Tellem and coach Dwane Casey to assess the roster needs and balance that with the financial situation.
The Pistons were precariously close to the luxury-tax line this season and although the Pistons can move several players, there isn’t much wiggle room. They will be hard-pressed to add an All-Star-level talent without either moving a big piece off their roster or going far and above the salary cap and into the luxury tax.
“I’m always willing to do that. I want to win as much as all of us want to win. If I didn’t want to, it would have been easy not to win and not try to get into the playoffs. Of course, we are,” Gores said. “This has never been about our financial situation; it’s about delivering to Detroit. It’s not the way we function and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win.
“We established good culture this year and if you look at the positives, we do have great players and Dwane did a good job navigating some of our young players with Bruce Brown, and Luke (Kennard) did great every step at a time. It’s a process.”