‘We’re going to double down’ – Troy Weaver won’t waver from blueprint to restore the Pistons, he says
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Troy Weaver plans to double down on the blueprint that produced a sturdy foundation for the unfolding era of Pistons basketball under his direction, but don’t interpret that to mean we’ll see another dizzying round of roster turnover.
“I don’t anticipate having too many roster spots available,” Weaver said Monday, the day after the first season on his watch as Pistons general manager ended. “We like our group and we’re excited about the guys under contract and even our own free agents. I don’t anticipate much turnover at all.”
The Pistons will have a decent chunk of cap space – potentially around $20 million – and will have no worse than the No. 6 pick in the July draft. What those yield likely will be the foremost additions Weaver makes for 2021-22 after 2019 draft picks Sekou Doumbouya and Deividas Sirvydis were the only two players of those inherited by Weaver upon his June 2020 hiring to survive the season.
“I would say maybe one or two additions from the outside, but the assets from the Pistons moving forward are all in house,” Weaver said. “It’s internal development and growth. That will be our focus this summer.”
And that focus is going to be intense. Dwane Casey, his assistants and development staff and the strength and conditioning staff will regroup for a few weeks but have the young players – 11 of the 17 on the roster are 24 or younger – back at it by June 1, Casey said.
“We’ll all be here. I’ll be here,” Casey said. “Everybody’s going to be based here.”
“What does summer look like for the Detroit Pistons? It’s going to be a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Weaver said. “We’ve got to go to work. Twenty wins is not happening again. It’s going to be a group mentality to get us out of it. They’re going to be here working. If they’re going to have a Pistons uniform on, they’re going to work this summer.”
Weaver’s first draft saw him maneuver to add two extra first-round picks and a high second and the yield was Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Saben Lee. Hayes missed more than half the season, 41 games over three months, with a hip injury but returned for the final six weeks to give him a solid foundation of experience to carry over into his off-season. Stewart and Bey are strong candidates for the NBA All-Rookie team, while Lee got the bulk of his playing time over the past two months when the league lifted limits on two-way players.
Weaver calls the quartet the “Core Four” and Casey said they stood out as the most glaring positive of the first season of what Weaver has dubbed the “restoration” of the Pistons.
“All those little things from the rookies and making the advances in their rookie year would be the highlight for me as a coach,” Casey said. “Young players, the one thing that’s hard for them to do is to win in this league because of the savvy and the experience other players have. That’s why you don’t win as many games, but the plus is that’s going to pay great dividends down the road.”
“We laid the groundwork for our future success,” Weaver said. “Got our first shovel in the dirt. Just laying the foundation for us moving forward.”
Weaver arrived from Oklahoma City, where he’d spent the past decade plus as No. 2 to Sam Presti, extolling past championship Pistons teams and vowing to emulate their blue-collar blueprint for success by prioritizing players who exuded toughness and selflessness. Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee were targeted as free agents to anchor the starting lineup. Young veterans Josh Jackson, Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo were added via free agency, the waiver wire and trade.
The Pistons scored wins over some of the NBA’s best teams and competed hard consistently. Weaver draws parallels to what he experienced with a 23-win team in Oklahoma City in 2008-09 before the Thunder took off, winning 50 games the following season.
“I have the same feelings here that I had back in the ’08-09 season there,” he said. “The optimism is not in the record because the record stinks, but we’ll continue to fight, claw, scratch, bite – whatever we’ve got to do to get out of this hole. We’re going to continue to do it together and we’re going to be unwavering in getting there.”
And while Weaver feels the mission of stocking the shelves with players who embody the character and toughness he and Casey sought is on track, he doesn’t take that as a sign that those standards can now be relaxed to allow adding players who might bring another missing ingredient or two to the equation.
“We’re going to double down,” he said. “We’re not going to change anything. We’re going to continue to bring in like-minded people. We won’t get cute. You lay the foundation and then you waver or go astray or look for what’s popular, we’re not going to do that. We’ll double down on our foundation and what we’re doing.”