Posted Jun 29 2012 8:40PM
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons are excited about their rookie class.
Kyle Singler is providing one of the sources of enthusiasm.
Detroit drafted the former Duke standout 33rd overall last year and the 6-foot-8 forward chose to stay in Spain after the lockout ended.
"We expect to sign Kyle Singler on July 11," Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said Friday. "We look forward to having him with the Pistons this season."
The Pistons are confident they've found a complement to post player Greg Monroe on Thursday night.
Detroit drafted Connecticut center Andre Drummond ninth overall, adding an athletic, defensive-minded player to pair with the below-the-basket, offensively skilled Monroe.
"With Andre, we look at a young man, who from an athletic standpoint is off the charts at his position," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "We know it's going to be a process. Andre is 18 and spent one year in college basketball, but he has the ability to protect the rim, rebound the ball, run the floor and finish at the rim."
Drummond slipped a bit in the draft in part because of a questionable work ethic.
"My motor is very high," he insisted. "Now that I'm here with the Pistons, all of that talk about my motor is put to a rest."
The franchise desperately seeking to earn its first trip to the playoffs since 2009 took Texas A&M forward Khris Middleton and Missouri guard Kim English in the second round with the 39th and 44th picks overall.
"Those guys have a shot to make our team," Dumars said. "That's what you expect from guys in the late 30s and early 40s."
While Detroit will give each of its rookies time to develop, Dumars hopes to use some of the $15 million in salary cap space created by trading Ben Gordon to Charlotte to acquire veterans this summer to help sooner.
"You don't try to predict or pinpoint now how you're going to use it, just know it gives you flexibility with trades or free agency," Dumars said. "When people see cap space, they automatically think you're going to sign a free agent. Sometimes, you trade for a guy that fits into that cap space. I'm sure there will be guys we'd love to add one way or another."
Drummond will join Brandon Knight and Monroe - Detroit's last two first-round picks - as part of a young nucleus the Pistons hope can restore the franchise's pride. Detroit has missed the playoffs the last three seasons after a run of seven straight postseasons that included winning the NBA title in 2004 and six straight trips to at least the Eastern Conference finals.
Tom Gores, entering his second season as team owner, said making the playoffs next season is an expectation.
"I think we should go after it," Gores said. "I think we have a nucleus here of a great organization. We'll get our fan base back and energized, but we have a great organization."
Drafting and developing players will go a long way toward the franchise's quest to at least move in the right direction toward a fourth NBA title. And, the Pistons hope the trio of players selected Thursday night prove to be part of the successful plan.
"We wanted to come out of this draft with size, athleticism and shooting," Dumars said. "We feel we addressed all of those things with these three guys."
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