As the Pistons trudged through what’s turned out to be another 20-win season, there have been some questions about what the next couple of years will look like.
How many players of this current core will be around when the rebuild is finally rebuilt? If this is a restoration, what does the finished product look like? Is Dwane Casey the right coach to make it all happen?
The past week or two has shown that there may be more pieces in place than most people would have thought at the beginning of the season. Furthermore, the coach — at least for the short term — seems to be staring everyone in the face.
The canvas isn’t blank, and there are some things that are starting to take shape about what can be there. With another high draft pick and another successful season in free agency, it’s safe to say that general manager Troy Weaver could be ahead of schedule in his restoring. What looked to be a three-year process could be a playoff push next season and maybe — maybe — contending for a middle-level seed in 2023.
After that, it’s anyone’s guess, but Weaver, Casey and the coaching staff are off to a good start.
This edition of News & Views looks at some developing topics this week:
► News: Casey agreed to a contract extension through 2024.
► Views: It’s not surprising that the Pistons saw the value that Casey has brought in his time and that they wanted to reward the success he’s had in developing many of the young players this season.
Actually, it made perfect sense to try to get Casey to stick around, given the timeline that the rebuild is on. All signs point to the 2022-23 season being the one where the Pistons want to put everything together. After next season, they’ll have cap space for a max-salary veteran and their young core will be through their second year, when they presumably will have made a huge jump.
That should put the Pistons in a position to contend not just for the playoffs, but maybe more. Jerami Grant’s contract also will be up that year, but by then they should have a clearer direction of what other pieces they might need.
Adding one more year to Casey’s contract is an affirmation that they believe in what he’s doing and that he’s the voice the players will follow.
“He’s going to lead us through the restoration and get us back to where we want to go, and it was extremely important that everybody understood that, undoubtedly, he’s our leader going forward,” Weaver said Thursday.
Having the young players switch coaches so early in their careers could stunt their trajectory if they move to a new scheme. Weaver understood that and made the moves to solidify his rebuild. Casey is a straight-shooter and Weaver said that one of Casey’s strengths is his consistency, so players know what they get on a day-to-day basis.
► News: The Pistons lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 119-100, on Tuesday night.
► Views: In one sense, it’s a meaningless loss on the way to end another losing season. In another sense, it’s big for their draft odds as the Pistons moved closer to clinching one of the three worst records in the regular season — and with it, the best odds to get the No. 1 pick.
The Timberwolves have shown in their last 10 or 15 games that they’re much better than their record has shown. To their credit, they’ve played hard and haven’t tried to lose games intentionally, but it’s hard to do that with two former No. 1 picks in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards and another top pick in D’Angelo Russell.
If Minnesota’s pick isn’t in the top three, the pick goes to the Golden State Warriors, who frankly don’t need any additional help in getting back to a championship level.