Gores: ‘We Want to Win Now’

Pistons owner ‘excited – and a little bit nervous’ as his 3rd season tips off

Tom Gores
Pistons owner Tom Gores
David Guralnick/Detroit News

If the season goes the way Tom Gores envisions it, there’ll be a lot more celebrations just like the kind that erupted when Josh Smith’s buzzer 3-pointer beat Minnesota in the preseason finale at The Palace. And he’ll be there to high-five players more often than not.

“I was behind the scenes in many ways the first couple of years,” the Pistons owner said before Wednesday’s season opener, his third since buying the team. “Trust me, I’ve spent so much time on the Pistons. My house is consumed with it, my family is consumed with it, I’m consumed with it. The first few years were really transition time and a lot behind the scenes, and I feel like now that things have developed, it’s time for me to be here.”

Planning for the summer of 2013 began virtually from the moment Gores purchased the Pistons two years earlier and picked up momentum with the June 2012 trade that sent Ben Gordon’s contract to Charlotte, opening the way for the $20 million-plus in cap space the Pistons carried into July. They used it to sign Josh Smith in free agency and acquire Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups and Gigi Datome.

Gores said those signings showed something about the Pistons and opened eyes, even among his inner circle.

“We have attracted free-agent talent that most folks in the league, including some of my friends, said no way Detroit could do that,” he said. “We sold ourselves as a great city, good ownership, good basketball management and we care about the players. We got Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings and we brought Chauncey back. I’m very excited – and a little bit nervous.”

The roster Joe Dumars cobbled together, Gores said, came from their shared belief that the time was right to invest in winning now.

“Joe and I have made a decision that we want to win now without sacrificing the future,” he said. “That was our philosophy in the off-season. We want to win now but we cannot sacrifice the future. I think we’ve played this out about as good as you can and now we just have to perform.”

Gores said the first few years, with fans slow to fill The Palace as they did during the franchise’s title-run heydays, were “tough on the stomach and the checkbook, too, by the way,” but his disappointment wasn’t with the fans.

“My biggest fear is to disappoint the fans,” he said. “I want to give them what they thought they got with me as a new owner and I want to deliver on that. I know from growing up here, what I know about Detroit fans and Michigan fans is they’ll show up. You’ve just got to deserve them.”

Gores gave Joe Dumars, president of basketball operations and the man who spearheaded the ambitious off-season makeover of the roster that saw eight new players added, a healthy endorsement.

“Joe has made amazing adjustments,” Gores said. “He’s got a front office right now that I think they lead the league in thinking, the way they look at things, their approach. … Joe has shown every sign of a person who can grow. He’s done amazing things with his basketball operations.”

His expectations for the season?

“Very high expectations,” he said. “We expect the playoffs. It would be a huge disappointment if we didn’t make it. We have to be successful this year and I think we’ve done a lot of in the off-season to really affect this team.”

Gores was asked where he sees himself in 10 or 15 years.

“I can’t see myself as not a sports owner,” he said. Of the Pistons? “Of the Pistons.”