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DETROIT, MI - JULY 30: General Manager Troy Weaver of the Detroit Pistons talks to the media during the press conference on July 30, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Weaver believes in the job he has to offer as Pistons hunt for new coach

Amid his season-ending press conference, Troy Weaver put out a guide for prospective coaches as they interview for the Pistons coaching opening:

"What this team needs, it’s simple – discipline, development and defense,” said the Pistons general manager, minutes after praising the impact Dwane Casey had on the young players central to Weaver’s restoration project, as he embarks on the mission to replace Casey. “That’s going to be the call for the next coach. That’s our marching orders and we’re excited about moving forward.”

Weaver scoffed at the notion he’d need a sales pitch to attract premium candidates, but Casey provided one for him, in any case. The coaching universe is small and Casey, after a lifetime in the game and three decades on an NBA bench, knows everyone. If any call to ask what they’d be walking into in Detroit, Casey will be ready with a full-throated endorsement of the job’s appeal. 

“The culture that’s here, that’s set,” he said. “We have a top-notch organization, class organization. A class owner who cares. A class general manager who cares, in Troy, about each player in that locker room.

“This is a prime situation for any coach. It’s ready. The young talent is here. Look at a young man Troy brought in, James Wiseman. That kid is a piece of clay. Cade Cunningham. There’s talent there. (Jaden) Ivey. Go right down the line and the pieces are there. Just need time. I’m sure Troy’s phone is ringing off the hook right now. Look at this facility. World-class facility. World-class arena. World-class fans. This is a prime situation for any coach to come into.”

There are only 30 NBA head coaches, so any opening would have a list of worthy suitors. That aside, Weaver is going to the market with the wind at his back. Cunningham and Ivey top the list of bristling young talent. There’s a top-five draft pick coming – potentially the No. 1 pick – and $25 million in cap space to bolster a roster that will be further fortified by the return of healthy veterans Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks.

The Pistons were not a true-talent 17-win operation this season, one wracked by misfortune that began with Cunningham’s season-ending injury after 12 games. The good news? There are no long-term consequences expected from his injury or those that carved out chunks of Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley or Bogdanovic’s seasons. Given the experience their absences allowed players like Ivey and fellow high-ceiling rookie Jalen Duren, on top of the draft and free-agent resources at hand, the ingredients for a dramatic surge forward are in place.

And all prospective coaches will know that, too. It will be appealing to anyone to arrive at a job where the dominoes are set up for the type of success that reflects well on everyone.

Weaver isn’t taking any preconceived notions into his search. He brushed off the idea he’d fall prey to the common practice of hiring the opposite, which in this case would mean a young coach with an offensive bent since Casey has been more closely associated with the defensive side since his playing days at Kentucky.

“The right guy is the right guy. It doesn’t matter what he’s known for,” he said. “We’ll vet that out and hopefully get that.”

Neither will Weaver feel an urgency to get the hire done by any artificial deadline. Off-season player development is crucial for a roster with so many essential young players, but Casey’s development staff remains in place to carry out that function. The May 16 lottery, should fortune bless the Pistons, conceivably could widen the candidate pool but won’t dictate Weaver’s timeline.

He'll be looking for a coach who embodies many of the qualities Casey exemplified, starting with his uncommon ability to maintain an emotional equilibrium despite a season’s inevitable travails.

“It’s funny,” Weaver said. “Coach and I, at the beginning of the season, we said, ‘In the morning we’ll drink a cup of urgency; at night we’ll drink a cup of patience.’ It’s still the same.”

He’ll conduct his coaching search the same way, balancing urgency and patience in the hunt for someone who can administer discipline, development and defense in equal and compelling doses. He goes into it of full belief in the quality of the job he has to offer and the opportunity at hand. The only fortune he’ll wish for doesn’t concern lottery balls but good health.

“We just need to get healthy,” he said. “I’m not planning around the lottery. That’s exactly what it is – it’s a lottery. I think we have enough in this building to move forward and compete. Wherever we land, we land. But I’m not planning around what pick we get. That’s not who I am. I was raised to make a dollar out of 15 cents. I’m not really worried about where the ball drops. Now, will I celebrate with everybody? Absolutely. But I don’t walk around like that. My grandparents would turn over, talking about luck. I’ve got too much faith for that.”