It’s almost time to pick up the pace of the NBA season, with training camp set to open in about two weeks. The Pistons don’t have many unanswered questions outside of how the roster will work out with No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham and free agent Kelly Olynyk added to the mix.
Most of the roster returns intact, and as the rebuilding continues fans are optimistic that this could be an improved season from last season’s 20-52 mark that gave the first choice in the draft.
This week’s Mailbag focuses on the decision to rebuild, as well as how the final place on the roster might come undone and position the battles in training camp.
► Question. Can you finally admit that all of the anti-tank mob you were trying to lead was all BS? Did they really need to fight for the eighth seed for a decade? – @DetroitSTANS
► Reply. Here’s a dirty little secret: Sometimes I get it wrong. I admit it freely, so it’s not that someone has to call me about something I said – checking the calendar – several years ago.
If I remember correctly, some people asked me if I thought the Pistons should go into full tank mode or try to make the playoffs with the group they had, which was Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, as well as Luke Kennard and Stanley Johnson, I believe. At the time, I said that I was not a fan of tanking and that they still had a few chances in the playoffs with their somewhat veteran nucleus.
Time has shown these Pistons teams didn’t make the playoffs, but injuries were the main culprit there. Jackson was never the same after his myriad of injuries. Would the Pistons have been higher than the eighth seed if Blake Griffin hadn’t had his knee issues towards the end of the 2018-19 season? We’ll never know.
What we do know is that the rebuild has worked wonderfully so far under the leadership of General Manager Troy Weaver. This is the other key part of what has been successful: Weaver is the engineer. There is no guarantee that things would have turned out the same with someone else heading the front office.
At the time, I also said that a slew of losses did not guarantee anything. The Pistons were fortunate enough to get the No.1 pick this year, so it’s easy to say it worked. Having one of the worst records gives a team a chance, but they still have to make the most of that opportunity. But by the way, everything looks good now.
► Q. With the list place open and looking at our table in depth, it seems painfully obvious that we need a legitimate center. Do you have any ideas as to whether the Pistons are going this route? – @ KornKat2020
► A. The only two remaining centers on the list are Isaiah Stewart and Olynyk. I think the Pistons will look to add a third at some point, especially after sending Jahlil Okafor with fillets in trade a few weeks ago.
The first idea was that Luka Garza, who is on a two-fold contract, would be the choice, but it would seem prudent for the Pistons to enter the camp with their only place on the open roster and then make a decision at the end. of camp. There could be other situations in the league where a veteran center is eliminated at the end, and they retain the option of making that addition.
If there is no other veteran option, then they could convert Garza to a standard contract and then sign someone else – maybe even Jamorko Pickett – for the two-way job.
► Q. Do you have any idea how many Pistons players are already training in town before training camp starts? – @ robearl2x
► A. I heard they are all going to be based in Detroit for the summer so they can continue their group and individual training at the training center. There is no reason to believe it was not.
There have been social media posts with some of the young players together, so the assumption is that they’ve been there. Summer is the only time they’ve had to visit their hometown and take a vacation away from basketball, so I imagine that has happened too.
► Q. What are some of the position battles during training camp that we should keep our eyes on? – @ MIKoenig44
► A. It looks like most of the positions are set, but there could be some maneuvering between Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo for a few minutes. I think Coach Dwane Casey has a general idea of how the rotations are going to work and how the playing time will be divided, so in the sense that there are traditional position battles, I don’t think so. that there will be many. .
If Sekou Doumbouya had remained on the list I think it would have been something to watch out for with him and Trey Lyles, but the recent trade with the Nets removed that question.
► Q. How will the NBA handle playing in Toronto with unvaccinated players who won’t be allowed to cross the border? At the same time, what will be the policy of Little Caesars Arena to attend Pistons games? Currently, Canadian fans cannot cross the border by land. – @Agridome
► A. From what I’ve read, the league doesn’t require players to be vaccinated, although some local areas, such as San Francisco and New York, have requirements in place. Everything seems to be going very smoothly at the moment, as the league hasn’t even revealed much about the restrictions that there might be for fans.
Factoring in the Canadian border becomes a bit trickier, as some people cross the border into Canada, although they have to test for up to 72 hours before making the trip. I haven’t heard anything new from LCA, and last year I think they demanded negative testing for fans before they entered.
There should be something more definitive in the coming weeks, as training camps and preseason games are set to begin.