Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gores, Dumars Prepare For NBA Draft

Gores, Dumars Prepare For NBA Draft
By Steve St-Pierre

Officially the new owner of the Pistons, Tom Gores has wasted little time making his mark on the franchise. He’s decided to keep Joe Dumars as President and GM, who has since announced the firing of John Kuester as Head Coach. Gores and Dumars now have less than a month to negotiate trades, interview coaching candidates and gear up for the 2011 NBA Draft before the league enters into a lockout in July.

Dumars has recently admitted that he was unable to make all the moves he’s wanted to make due to the sale of the franchise. Now that his restrictions have been lifted under Gores, Dumars is hopeful he can make significant progress on his plan to rebuild the Pistons’ roster.

Currently, the Pistons have nine players under contract: Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Greg Monroe, Austin Daye, Will Bynum, Jason Maxiell and Terrico White. According to reports, the team has been trying to trade Hamilton for the past couple of years, and they’ll need to in order to give Gordon the amount of playing time and shot attempts he requires to flourish at the shooting guard spot. Likewise, Monroe is ready to be the team’s full-time starter at center, making the aging Wallace expendable as well.

With Detroit prepared to rebuild around Gordon and Monroe, the team’s goal now is to put pieces around them. Bynum and White are the only point guards under contract at this time. With few options available to them in the draft at that position, the Pistons will likely look to free agency or trades to acquire a starting-caliber point guard to play alongside Gordon in the backcourt. Up front, the team has all intentions of re-signing restricted free agent Jonas Jerebko.

With that in mind, the Pistons are expected to take a power forward with their first-round pick in this year’s draft to split time with Villanueva and Maxiell. That would leave Jerebko and Daye to battle it out for the starting spot at small forward. Detroit owns the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, and they expect to have a number of potential prospects to choose from at that spot. Those candidates include international forwards Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely and Bismack Biyombo to go along with Texas big man Tristan Thompson.

With two additional picks in the second round, the Pistons could be looking to target a natural center to play behind Monroe. One name that certainly intrigues them is a local standout from Oakland University, Keith Benson. It’s also possible Detroit could shop both picks in order to acquire another first-rounder or to bring in another veteran player, perhaps in a deal that would also include Hamilton.

Besides improving the roster, Gores and Dumars will have to decide whether or not to pursue a new head coach before the expected lockout. Local reports are currently indicating Mike Woodson and Bill Laimbeer as the early front-runners. Woodson, who was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks for six seasons, served as an assistant on the Pistons under Larry Brown during the team’s 2004 championship season. Laimbeer, of course, is a fan-favorite due to his past success as a Pistons player and as head coach of Detroit’s former WNBA franchise, the Shock.

It’s quite possible the Pistons’ front office will elect to focus solely on improving its roster for the month of June and simply wait until after the draft to hire a head coach. Either way, the team will need to be aggressive these next couple weeks in terms of shopping players and scouting the upcoming rookie class. The 2011 NBA Draft should hopefully be the beginning steps toward revitalizing the ball club.