DETROIT – Tom Gores says he’ll meet with Stan Van Gundy next week to discuss what comes next for the Pistons.
“I think we’ve got to make some changes. I’m just not sure what they are,” the Pistons owner said Monday. “He’s been working the whole season, so I need to hear from Stan. But I can tell you this: He’s just an extremely dedicated man. I think he’s been good for our franchise. That I know for sure.”
Gores attended Monday’s home finale and spoke to media members as the third quarter got under way. The biggest impression he made was in expressing his disappointment at not yet delivering the NBA championship contender he vowed to bring to Detroit when he bought the Pistons nearly seven years ago.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “The biggest disappointment is just disappointing the fans. That’s the biggest thing. We had a lot of good things happen this year. We moved downtown. We have the practice facility – we broke ground on that (in Detroit). We continue to commit to Detroit. So we’re doing a lot of things that don’t necessarily represent wins but they’re wins for the city. We’re here and I’m happy about that, but I’m disappointed that I’ve disappointed the fans.���
Calling Van Gundy his “partner for four years,” Gores said he’ll go into next week’s meetings with an open mind and look for Van Gundy’s input while reaching a determination as to the franchise’s future.
“We have only discussed the idea of winning,” Gores said. “Stan’s a team player. What I mean is he’ll do what’s right for the organization, just like I will. We have been going about this for four years. We haven’t converted to wins, but he’s worked really hard. We’re going to meet and see how we feel.”
Gores acknowledged the impact of Reggie Jackson’s loss for 37 games due to injury, citing his absence as the single biggest reason for the team missing the playoffs.
“You guys have seen the difference he’s made, but at the same time we have to be prepared,” he said. “It was sad to me to see Reggie get hurt. Reggie has made a difference, but we have to get used to having players who get injured. We have no excuses.”
If Jackson’s injury was the biggest disappointment in a season that will end short of the playoffs, the mid-season trade for Blake Griffin counts as the highlight.
“The thing I’ve been surprised about with Blake is that he’s a leader,” Gores said. “He’s a true leader. Beyond his athletic ability and all that stuff, I think Blake is going to be great for us. The big surprise with Blake – we made the trade and I hadn’t met him – is that he’s a real leader. He’s a true leader. We got a superstar in Detroit.”
Gores said he’s encouraged by the brief glimpses he’s seen of the team with Andre Drummond, Jackson and Griffin together – they played in four games before Griffin was forced from the lineup with a bone bruise of his right ankle – but won’t weigh that factor inordinately in his discussions with Van Gundy about the future.
“We have to break it down,” he said. “Where we’ve gone right, where we’ve gone wrong. We haven’t won. That’s just reality. And Stan and I have to talk about that.”