Detroit Pistons head coach Frank talks with Pistons players during their NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Auburn Hills

Pistons owner says he expects playoffs next year; quiet on Dumars, Frank

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It’s not hard to see some serious potential in Detroit — rookie Andre Drummond is the real deal and paired with Greg Monroe could form the best front line in basketball in a couple years. Add in some young backcourt guys like Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler who could have a role, and you’ve got the start of something.

Pistons owner Tom Gores wants to go from the start closer to the finish line fast — he expects the Pistons to make the playoffs next season.

Actually, he expected to make the playoffs this season and is disappointed, which means the jobs of GM Joe Dumars and coach Lawrence Frank are not safe. Here is his quote directly, via MLive.com

“I think both of them, including ownership, has to be accountable for the year,” Gores said. “We have to be accountable for the results of this year.

“I expected to be in the playoffs. So I’m disappointed by that. When I said that last year, I meant it. I’m very excited about what we have going. We have a lot of room financially. In basketball operations, we’ve set ourselves up. So I’m very excited about the future. But I’m not content about how we performed this year…

“We want to win a championship, we want to get into the playoffs,” he said. “We want to do all of those things. This is an extra important year. We are prepared to spend and we are prepared to do what we have to do to get this franchise forward. And make no mistake, we want to win.”

The Pistons only have $35 million on the books for next season (and that figure can be lowered if they buy out Rodney Stuckey). That will leave them about $25 million under the new salary cap, and while some of that money likely goes to re-signing Jose Calderon the Pistons will have money to chase free agents.

We’ll see who he has doing the chasing. When asked directly about Frank he simply dodged the question, other than to say any decisions would be made soon after the season ended.

However, Gores also needs to be a little bit patient — you don’t want to be the team that spends the money just because they have it. This summer’s free agent class has some unreachable guys for Detroit (Chris Paul) and some guys you don’t want to overspend on (Josh Smith). It’s better to hold that powder until the summer of 2014 (a deeper free agent class) and get someone good than to spend it just because you can.

But make no mistake, the Pistons are ready to spend.

Add Kobe Bryant to don’t change hack-a-player crowd

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures after hitting a three point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LeBron James is already there. So is Kevin Durant. Same with a lot of other old-school GMs and coaches around the league.

Their response to the rapid rise in hack-a-player (shouldn’t it always be hack-a-Shaq?) instances is “tell the guy to hit the free throws.”

Add Kobe Bryant to their ranks, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.

Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.

Timofey Mozgov with maybe “best” missed dunk of the season (VIDEO)

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On this play the Sacramento Kings played defense like only they can — and you wonder why George Karl’s job is in danger — and gave Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov a wide-open lane right down the middle for an easy dunk.

Ooof.

LeBron James had a triple-double (the 40th of his career) and the Cavaliers got a needed easy win, but this is the play you’ll remember.

Karl-Anthony Towns with nasty poster dunk on Dante Cunningham (VIDEO)

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Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast.

While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.

Then Monday he did that to Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans went on to win the game 116-102, but Towns continues to play well.

Report: Come 2017, Knicks have real shot to land Russell Westbrook

during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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.
Russell Westbrook
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The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.

But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.

In an article about Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the wake of Derek Fisher’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the Knicks have a real shot at Westbrook in a couple of summers.

The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.

Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.

Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.

And the Knicks could be involved in all of it.