No downtown deal yet, but Pistons owner Tom Gores says ‘we’re getting close’

There’s no deal in place to move the Pistons downtown just yet, but Tom Gores admits there’s a good chance Friday began the 29th and final season at The Palace.

“I think if we’re going to do it, it’s going to be soon. I’ve always been transparent. We’re getting close,” the Pistons owner said minutes before tipoff of the home opener against Orlando.

The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings are playing their final season at Joe Louis Arena and will move to the new Little Caesars Arena for the 2017-18 season. Gores said the Pistons have been in talks with the Ilitch family, Chris Ilitch as the point man.

“No deadline. We’re working towards it,” he said. “We don’t have a deal, but we are talking serious.”

Gores bought the team from Karen Davidson, widow of longtime Pistons owner Bill Davidson, in June 2011. He’s spent more than $40 million to upgrade The Palace in the past five years, but has always kept open the possibility of someday moving the team back to Detroit.

Karen Davidson and Ethan Davidson, Bill Davidson’s son, were in attendance at Friday’s game in their customary seats near the team bench. Gores saluted them and the former Pistons owner for their foresight and care in building and maintaining The Palace.

“We’re serious about making this move and I think we should enjoy The Palace,” he said. “It’s been a historic arena, credit to Mr. Davidson. For this arena to be as lively and functional as it is so many years later, it’s pretty incredible.”

It wasn’t his vision to move the team downtown upon buying the Pistons, he said. The first mission was to improve their fortunes to give the community something to rally around.

“It was just getting the team better because ultimately you have to have a team that wins, that competes,” he said. “My vision is having a guy like Stan Van Gundy in charge of the team. He’s really done an incredible job reshaping us. You think about the progress he’s made in a short amount of time. If we can get back downtown, I think that’s something everybody would like. But I wouldn’t say it was my vision. The vision was to compete and make you guys proud.”