With Derrick Rose, Tony Snell and Markieff Morris among the new additions, the outlook for this season is making it back to the playoffs. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Auburn Hills — Not long after the free-agency period opened, the Pistons had a commitment from Derrick Rose to join the team. At the time, it seemed a bit odd, given that Rose was coming off a bounce-back season and the Pistons had been swept out of the first round of the playoffs.
It turns out that it was a match of his choosing.
Rose was looking for an opportunity to win a championship and after looking at his options, he chose the Pistons, with vice chairman Arn Tellem, who was Rose’s former agent. Rose, who turns 31 on Friday, is looking to find an elusive title to add to his league MVP trophy — and sees the Pistons as a viable option to get one.
“I got all the accolades in the past and now I want to win,” Rose said. “That’s the only thing missing from my resume: a championship. Being here and seeing what happened last year with the Raptors and coming to the East, you never know what can happen.”
Media Day is rife with optimism for dreams and proclamations of looking to make the playoffs and win a championship, but Rose seemed sincere.
That was one of the top takeaways from Pistons Media Day on Monday. Here are a few other gems from the last official event at the Pistons practice facility in Auburn Hills prior to the move to the new Henry Ford facility in midtown Detroit.
► Luke Kennard a starter? Entering his third season, Kennard has high expectations, but whether he starts or comes off the bench will be one of the big burning questions in training camp.
“On paper, the numbers say he doesn’t fit well with the first unit, but he is one of our most talented players. Our job as a coaching staff is to fit in where he’s going to be, whether it gives us balance with the first or second unit,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He is one of our best 3-point shooters, but we take away from some of his strengths with the first unit because there are only so many pick-and-rolls you’re going to be able to have and I don’t know if his strength is spot-up shooting.
“His top strength is the pick-and-roll game. That’s something I’m going to have to see play out in the next month or so.”
► The first question for veteran Joe Johnson was about whether he thought he’d be back in the NBA. After a summer in the Big3 3-on-3 league, Johnson opened some eyes that he still has some skill left and can play in the NBA.
“I had no clue — that wasn’t even my purpose for playing in the Big3. I had two of teammates from college on my team and to have that camaraderie and have fun and use it as therapy and have something to do,” Johnson said. “It just organically led to teams wanting to see me work out and play.”
Johnson, 38, signed a partially guaranteed contract and he’ll be in a competition for the final roster spot, likely with Christian Wood, who has a non-guaranteed deal. Johnson could be a candidate for backup small forward, with the ability to play in shorter spurts — maybe 10-15 minutes per game.
► Andre Drummond didn’t want to talk about the possibility of free agency after this season. He has a player option in his contract, which could allow him to opt out and test the waters. Senior adviser Ed Stefanski said that the team doesn’t discuss details on contracts or negotiations, but conceded that Drummond is eligible for a contract extension.
“We really like Andre — the person and the player — so you never know what occurs and how it’s going to happen,” Stefanski said.
In other words, there’s not much in the works right now, but there could be a wait-and-see approach with how his season goes, which would dictate what kind of offer they’d make — and when. I wouldn’t expect anything before the season, but they could try to work a deal later.
► Load management has a term thrown around readily, for Blake Griffin, Rose and others. Griffin was injured at the end of the season and missed the first two games of the playoffs. The thought is that the Pistons might consider sitting him more during the regular season, to ensure he’d be ready for a potential playoff push. Rose had a similar situation and, with the added depth, the Pistons will have to watch their veterans and those with injury histories.
“The way the NBA is moving now, we’ve put so much emphasis and resources in training staffs and the science behind the sport. I’m a believer in science,” Griffin said. “I’m going to let our staff and front office lead the way on that. It’s not going to be me going and asking for games and them fighting with me.
“I’m going to listen to them because that’s what they’re hired to do and that’s what they’re good at. Our training staff did an unbelievable job last year. As a team, you have to buy in to your role; my role is to be a player, not to decide how much I play or how much I practice.”