Greg Monroe turned 22 just two months ago, but in terms of service time with the Pistons he’s now smack in the middle of the roster. He holds seniority on Brandon Knight, Corey Maggette and the five rookies – Andre Drummond, Slava Kravtsov, Kyle Singler, Khris Middleton and Kim English – though Monroe is younger than Kravtsov, Singler and English.

Since Summer League ended in the middle of July, I spent some time in Los Angeles and then came back to Oregon – finally. I hadn’t been back to my home in Medford – that’s just south of Portland – since I went to Spain last summer. It’s the longest I’ve been away from home and it definitely feels that way because after spending nearly a year in a foreign country, being around different people, it feels like it’s been an even longer time.

When Tom Gores became Pistons owner, he made it clear that the appeal for him went far beyond basketball. The Pistons, he vowed, would do everything in their power to strengthen the fabric of community in the places where their fans lived and worked. Perhaps the most tangible evidence of his vision came to life Sunday night, when the Come Together Foundation was launched with the honoring of three Impact Award winners from across Michigan at a special concert performed by Sheryl Crow at DTE Energy Music Theatre.

So … how does this affect the Pistons? The Dwight Howard trade – now that it has at last found a life form it’s able to inhabit … what does it mean for a Pistons team that over the summer added two players big enough, if perhaps not yet quite experienced enough, to bump and grind with the NBA’s best big man just in time to see him switch conferences?

We’ll get to that in a minute. First things first: How it affects the Pistons most immediately, perhaps, is the effect that the removal of the Howard bottleneck will have on the NBA trade pipeline.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The Detroit Pistons announced today that the club will open their eight-game 2012 preseason schedule at home against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, October 10 (7:30 p.m.). Four of the team’s eight games will be played at The Palace, featuring contests against the aforementioned Raptors, Orlando Magic (October 16), Charlotte Bobcats (October 20) and Atlanta Hawks (October 26).

By the time the regular season starts, never mind by the time a few dozen games have been played, the images of the first preseason game usually have evaporated into the mist. More often than not, whatever we thought might have been significant at the time has been rendered inconsequential.

But when you look at the Pistons’ preseason schedule announced the other day and see the first two games come against Toronto, you can’t help but be mildly intrigued by the prospect of seeing Andre Drummond match up against Jonas Valanciunas.

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