With an endless off-season to envision Detroit Pistons future, Casey & Weaver find themselves on the same page
David Dow (NBAE/Getty)
Over the NBA’s endless off-season, when Dwane Casey had no team to coach and Troy Weaver had precious few avenues to reshape the roster, the two men entrusted most with the future of the Pistons had plenty of time to bounce ideas off each other.
What Casey saw revealed a lot of true bounces.
“It’s funny,” Casey said as the Pistons embarked on their three-week team camp. “We’ll talk about certain players and see the same things. And we think a lot alike, too, in the way that we look at people first. I think that’s very, very important that you look at the type of people you want to compete with, the type of people you want to go to battle with.”
There are a multitude of factors that have to align to enable an NBA franchise to be in position for sustained success, but perhaps not one is more important than a healthy coach-general manager relationship. They don’t have to be best buddies, but they need to share a common set of principles with regard to the type of team they hope to build.
Early returns on the Weaver-Casey partnership indicate the Pistons have cleared that significant hurdle.
Casey is fond of quoting the old Bill Parcells line: “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.”
Casey isn’t asking to run the draft or have final authority on trades or free-agent decisions, but he believes – as someone who’s been in the NBA for a quarter-century and has wins and losses hung on his resume – that his voice should matter. The surest way to make that a reality is finding a general manager who believes in the same core values for success as the head coach.
Casey feels as sure as he can that in Weaver he’s found that partner.
“We think a lot the same way,” he said. “We both enjoy players that play hard, that come to compete, that put their work boots on each and every day. That’s the type of player our fans here in Detroit are used to – the hard-hat guys.”
Ed Stefanski gave Casey one of those in his first draft with the Pistons shortly after owner Tom Gores installed him to bridge the transition to a new management team in 2018, Bruce Brown. Brown isn’t a finished product and might never become more than a tertiary offensive weapon, but he raises the toughness and competitiveness of a unit to levels necessary to enable winning. Casey knows, in addition, that especially in today’s NBA era you also need scoring savants.
“We also like shooters,” Casey said. “You’ve got to have a good mixture of hard-hat guys and shooters – guys who can put the ball in the hole. The game is leaning that way and we all have to evolve from that standpoint.”
It wasn’t long after Tom Gores became Pistons owner in 2011 that he sensed his management and coaching teams weren’t pulling in the same direction and worked to address it. It eventually led to consolidating power in one set of hands when Stan Van Gundy was hired in 2014 as coach and president of basketball operations. After initial progress, injuries and a series of draft and free-agent miscalculations stalled momentum, leading to Casey’s hiring and the pursuit of Weaver that paid off two years later with his hiring.
The draft is still nearly two months away and free agency will follow, giving Casey and Weaver more time to sift through the possibilities and allow their vision for the near-term future of the Pistons to crystallize. From all appearances, they’ll come to that stage seamlessly.
“Our relationship has grown. We talk every day. We text every day,” Casey said. “We stay in constant contact. I enjoy that type of relationship with your general manager. As far as player evaluation, we see players in the same way, in the same light.”