Pistons in the 2010s: Top stories from the past decade

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit News sports writer Rod Beard ranks the most notable events during the past decade for the Pistons:

1. Gores buys the team

Bill Davidson’s widow, Karen, agreed to sell the team for a reported $325 million to billionaire Tom Gores. The deal included the team, The Palace of Auburn Hills and other music venues, an investment that has increased significantly since the 2011 purchase.

Pistons owner Tom Gores likes to throw t-shirts into the crowd.

2. Return to the city

In 2016, Gores announced the Pistons were moving from The Palace to join the Red Wings at the newly built Little Caesars Arena. That brought all four professional sports teams within a one-mile radius in downtown Detroit. This season, they moved their headquarters and practice facility to Midtown; the Palace is slated to be demolished and redeveloped.

3. Big splash

In January 2018, the Pistons got their best player of the decade, trading with the Los Angeles Clippers for Blake Griffin and his five-year deal worth $171 million. Griffin was an All-NBA selection in 2019 but injuries have limited his production and potential trade value this season.

Blake Griffin is the biggest star the Pistons have had this decade.

4. Coaching carousel

Futility brought instability and the Pistons had five coaches in a six-year span: John Kuester (57 wins), Lawrence Frank (54), Maurice Cheeks (21), John Loyer (eight), Stan Van Gundy (152) and Dwane Casey (53 and counting). Only Van Gundy (44 wins in ’16) finished above .500.

5. Changes at the top

Of the six coaches, Van Gundy had the longest tenure (four years), as head coach and team president. He flipped the roster he inherited that won just 29 games in 2014 and got them back to the playoffs, but made risky trades and signings that didn’t pan out.

Stan Van Gundy had an up-and-down tenure as Pistons coach and president.

6. The draft decision

In the 2017 draft, the Pistons had the 12th pick and selected Luke Kennard over Donovan Mitchell. Kennard has become a solid starter this season, but Mitchell has blossomed with the Utah Jazz into one of the best young players in the league.

7. Draft decision II

In 2015, the Pistons were looking to reconstruct the roster under Van Gundy and fill a hole at small forward. They took Arizona’s Stanley Johnson and passed over Kentucky guard Devin Booker, who has become a prolific scorer and foundation for the Phoenix Suns’ rebuild.

Knicks guard Wesley Matthews drives to the basket against Pistons forward Stanley Johnson.

8. The big signing

In 2013, the Pistons were looking to make a splash in free agency and signed Josh Smith to a four-year deal for $54 million. Smith was a poor fit to a front line that included Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Van Gundy waived Smith the next season and stretched the remainder of the salary over five years, which ends this summer.

9. Maxing on Drummond

After letting Monroe leave in free agency and getting nothing in return, the Pistons decided to build around Drummond, their first-round pick in 2012. At age 22, he signed a five-year deal worth $127 million and remains the longest-tenured Piston, though he can opt out of his deal after this season.

Andre Drummond could become a free agent this summer.

10. Clash with the Cavaliers

In their best season of the decade — 2015-16 — the Pistons had 44 wins, and as the eighth seed faced LeBron James and the Cavs in a tightly contested four-game series, with two losses by single digits. The Cavs continued to win the NBA title, topping the Golden State Warriors in seven games.

Complete decade look-backs

Tigers | Lions | Red Wings | Pistons | UM athletics | MSU athletics 


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard