Early signs the Casey-Weaver tandem will be the right fit at the right time for Pistons
David Dow (NBAE/Getty)
One of the most striking impressions to come out of Troy Weaver’s introductory press conference was the level of mutual respect – apparent even in a virtual format – between Weaver and Dwane Casey and what that means for the future of the Pistons.
Let’s start by winding the clock back two years when the Pistons made a run at Weaver – they were denied permission to talk to him by Oklahoma City management – and landed Casey.
The Pistons were all in on making the most out of their Blake Griffin-Andre Drummond-Reggie Jackson core at the time. They really had very little choice. The length of term and size of their contracts dictated the course.
It wasn’t tough to defend that decision. Those three, when healthy, gave the Pistons a puncher’s chance – given the right personnel around them and reasonable fortune – to do more than just make the playoffs. A vast majority of franchises would have made the same determination.
If the Pistons had made the organizational decision to rebuild in 2018, there’s no way Casey is their coach today. He was the reigning Coach of the Year, remember. Smart money was on Casey sitting out a season and cherry-picking the top available position in 2019. Pistons owner Tom Gores won Casey over – as he did Weaver more recently – by selling him on his commitment to building a championship contender. He had a core at the time to plausibly sell that vision.
The decision made in February to rebuild, unmistakably announced by the trade of Drummond and the subsequent buyout of Jackson’s contract, wasn’t reached lightly. It had to be especially wrenching for Casey, who admitted he thought his days piloting a rebuilding team had ended after he’d successfully navigated Toronto’s ascent and earned recognition as an elite NBA coach.
But Casey is proven not only as a developer of talent but also – and critically – an enthusiastic participant in the process. And that makes him every bit as ideal a coach for the Pistons in this stage of their development as he was in 2018 when they were a playoff contender.
Getting Weaver on board, from everything you could discern in last week’s interaction, figures to further invigorate Casey for the task at hand.
“I’m excited to have Troy,” Casey said. “I’ve always recognized Troy as one of the top talent evaluators in the league. Not only that, he’s a man of his word. He’s genuine. He’s real. I’m going to credit Tom and Arn (Tellem, Pistons vice chairman) and Ed (Stefanski, senior adviser to Gores) for opening the door for the opportunity for him to step in. It’s going to make my heart proud to work next to Troy.”
Casey will put the full weight of his experience and expertise into coaching a young roster in need of patience and development, but getting Weaver – and giving Casey full confidence he’ll acquire the type of talent that can achieve great things once developed – has to make his passion for the task ahead of him burn hotter.
Weaver, for his part, expressed full confidence that the attributes he values in players will be perfectly in sync with the qualities Casey prioritizes.
“Culture – everybody throws around culture,” Weaver said. “But the culture was reset when coach Casey was hired. We have a tremendous coach who will instill the things we’re looking for in our players.”
Not every great coach is the right fit for every franchise at any time. Sometimes even a great coach and a great general manager don’t make for a great team. A rebuilding team wouldn’t have been able to lure Dwane Casey two years ago but two years ago might not have been the time that made sense for Troy Weaver. Fortune hasn’t graced the Pistons with many smiles over the past decade. The early signs of the Casey-Weaver union suggests maybe fortune is finally swinging back around their way.