Stan Van Gundy still looms over Pistons

AP Photo/Paul Sancya
1 Comment’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Stan Van Gundy built a solid, unspectacular, inflexible roster.

Firing him didn’t undo that.

The 2018-19 Pistons will play in the shadow of Van Gundy, whom Detroit fired as president and coach. Ed Stefanski replaced Van Gundy in the front office, and Dwane Casey takes over as coach.

But there’s only so much the new regime can do – short of trading players while their stocks are low. Better to just run back a core of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson and hope for the best.

This is not the Eastern Conference heavyweight the Pistons present themselves as, but they’re more likely than not to make the playoffs in this dreary conference. For now, that will have to do.

Detroit mostly just picked around the edges this offseason.

Glenn Robinson III was the major acquisition. His salary ($4,075,000) is reasonable considering it comes with a $4,278,750 team option for the following season.

Robinson plugs a hole at small forward, but his signing just opens another. Because they aren’t willing to pay the luxury tax for this middling team, the Pistons let Anthony Tolliver walk to the Timberwolves for a one-year, $5.75 million contract. Detroit will miss the stretch big, especially with Jon Leuer getting hurt again.

Out their first-round pick from the Griffin trade, the Pistons picked Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown Jr. in the second round (the former via trading two future second-rounders to the 76ers). Those two are pretty typical second-rounders – decent players with major flaws.

The Pistons also waived backup center Eric Moreland and third-string point guard Dwight Buycks to sign Zaza Pachulia and Jose Calderon for those roles. Though all four would have been/are on minimum contracts, the newcomers will be cheaper. Because they’re on one-year deals, the NBA subsidizes their salaries. Pachulia and Calderon are also more established veterans.

While Detroit’s own biggest moves include second-rounders and minimum signings, LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers also has a keen effect here. Though the Cavs will try to compete, their playoff spot is wide open, and the Pistons are the leading contender for it.

Offseason grade: C