Q&A: Pistons General Manager Jeff Bower on Tobias Harris
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Pistons general manager Jeff Bower spoke to the media late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the acquisition of forward Tobias Harris from Orlando in exchange for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. Here are Bower’s responses to the questions he was asked:
QUESTION: Can you discuss the timing of the trade and how it all came together?
JEFF BOWER: We had discussion for a little while with Orlando over a number of different topics than this. Things were tossed back and forth and eventually this got to a point where it seemed like something that met the objectives of both of us over the last few days. It all intensified to get to this point, but we had been in talks for a little over a week about a couple of other things.
Q: What did your weekly scouting reports tell you about the arc of Tobias’ season and why you were interested in him?
BOWER: The interesting thing is being able to look at what he was doing this season but going back to our free-agent preparation for the summer and the review of last year’s performance. We feel that showed us a player with a variety of skills that can help a team in numerous ways. We also think that his play and the projection of his performance over the next five years is on a steady incline based on what we’re seeing and think he has a lot of room to grow as a player. We really like that this is a move that can be looked at as a long-term move as well as one that will fit with our core group of players and we’ll be able to keep them together due to contract certainty. Those are all pieces that were pretty important.
Q: Stan Van Gundy said last off-season after acquiring both Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris in trade that they were players the Pistons would have gone after in free agency had they been free agents. Do you look at this deal the same way?
BOWER: Absolutely. We looked at this as a player we would want to add as a free agent and have wanted to add as a free agent. Difficulties that are contained with the restricted status really made it hard this past summer, but he’s a valuable player we have a long-term outlook with and feel like we used our cap space for the summer on a very valuable player for us and we get the added benefit of having him available for the stretch run this year.
Q: Stan has talked throughout the season about the value of continuity and how it has helped turn teams like Atlanta and Toronto into playoff teams. Was there any trepidation about doing this trade now and breaking up what you had?
BOWER: Sure. That was something we looked at deeply. But at the same time, it’s something that this was a deal that presented both a short-term benefit as well as a long-term benefit. The ingredients that had to be there – a player with skill that fit the personality of the team to play with long-term ability to have this player as a part of our program – things like that all had to be there for us to make a move now. Because we did value continuity and growth and internal improvement, but not at the expense of passing up an opportunity that come July 1 we would say that looking at this long-term, we wish we would have done it.
Q: With the trade of Brandon Jennings, will you be looking to acquire another point guard?
BOWER: We’ll continue to investigate things and continue to talk to teams and continue discussions that we’ve had in other areas, absolutely. But having said that, this team has played well at times when Steve Blake has been manning the majority of minutes. Stan has a great deal of confidence in not only his ability but his poise and experience and that could play an even bigger role down the stretch. We’ll look at options up to the trade deadline at every position.
Q: Could Spencer Dinwiddie factor into the picture at point guard behind Reggie Jackson?
BOWER: The reason that he has been playing games in the Developmental League with the Drive was to get game experience at an extended rate so that he is prepared when we need him to perform and when an opportunity presents itself, we hope he’s even more ready and eager to step right into it.
Q: What is Tobias’ schedule this week and do you expect him to be available Friday at Washington?
BOWER: All players involved in the trade cannot participate until they all clear. It’s our hope that he’ll be available for practice on Thursday. We don’t know that. We’re making efforts to get him here as quickly as possible and to complete his physical, just like Orlando will be trying to get Brandon and Ersan’s physicals completed. Until they are all done, nobody can participate. Tomorrow (practice) will be out, but we’re hopeful that will be done and the league will clear them to participate Thursday. They do have 48 hours under the collective bargaining agreement to report. It’s required by 5 o’clock Thursday.
Q: Why did this deal come together today when last year’s activity didn’t happen until right at the trade deadline?
BOWER: I think the reason it got done today was because both parties, both Orlando and ourselves, were comfortable with what the terms were and both of us were really trying to do a deal with specific objectives in mind and we felt like we met those objectives. We weren’t trying to add different auxiliary parts or get creative by adding other players. It was a very straightforward transaction and one simplistic in nature, yet required a lot of thought to move forward with. But once we all had time to evaluate it and wanted to move ahead with it, there was no need to sit on it. Certainty is a good thing and the ability to have the potential to get the players cleared through physicals and onto the practice floor before we all start to play games again was a positive factor, as well.
Q: It seems that given all of the considerations, you made out as best you could with this trade, didn’t you?
BOWER: We’re happy today that we’re adding a good player that fits the whole makeup of our roster and if we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish our objectives, we wouldn’t have done the deal. We’re in a different place this year than last year and we could be selective with deals and we could sit back and make sure it measured up to everything that we felt was really important. Tobias is a very good player and it took good players to give up to get him, but we’re pleased that it all came together.
Q: How many teams approached you recently to ask about Brandon and was there a point where you realized you could get something pretty good in return if you were willing to deal him?
BOWER: There were a number of factors involved there. One of them, obviously, is Brandon. He was playing the best ball of his career, probably, the month prior to getting injured. His long-term outlook was probably one that he was going to examine other situations that would probably offer him a different role for the future, so those were all real parts of the decision. He has an opportunity to look at different things and explore options, as well, at the end of the season.