News & Views: Hamidou Diallo signing a win-win for Pistons

Detroit News

The band’s back together — well mostly.

As general manager Troy Weaver said last season, he didn’t foresee very much turnover with the roster. That’s been the case for the players, with the additions of Cade Cunningham, Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles.

The coaching staff has seen significant turnover, with assistants Sean Sweeney moving to the Dallas Mavericks, Sidney Lowe to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Micah Nori to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pistons added Jerome Allen, Bill Bayno, Andrew Jones III and Rex Kalamian in the offseason, with an eye on developing their young players with the new coaches.

The Pistons are hoping for significant player improvement from the roster, with the hope of adding a higher-tier free agent next summer or making a trade to bring in an All-Star-caliber player.

The issue with next year’s free agents is that there aren’t big names available. Zach LaVine looks to be the top target for the Pistons, but with the Chicago Bulls making a push in free agency to improve their roster, they might be pressed to keep LaVine in the herd. That situation will be something to monitor throughout the season.

In News & Views this week, the focus is on a returning free agent, the new Motor City Cruise coach and the Netflix documentary that includes the Pistons … barely.

► News: The Pistons brought back Hamidou Diallo on a two-year deal worth $10.4 million.

► Views: That was probably the last remaining question on roster, in what salary number would be enough to get Diallo to return. The Pistons were fortunate in this instance, because some outsiders believed that Diallo could have gotten much more as a free agent.

This turned out to be a weird year in free agency, where teams were bringing back their own free agents and there weren’t as many teams taking chances on emerging players with big contracts. Diallo was a restricted free agent, so the Pistons would have had a chance to match any offer sheet that he received, and there wasn’t much of a danger that he was going to leave without them getting anything in return.

Diallo doesn’t seem to figure into the starting lineup, but he could be a valuable piece off the bench in solidifying the team’s wing situation. He and Josh Jackson have some similar skills, so if they keep both of them, there’s some good redundancy there. Diallo seems to be the better 3-point shooter, and they wouldn’t have traded for him at the deadline last season if they didn’t like what he brings to the table.

News: DJ Bakker was named the first coach of the Motor City Cruise.

Views: It seems like a good move to stay with a name and face that has been within the franchise for the past three years to lead the Cruise in their inaugural season. With the prospect of so many Pistons players getting more time in the G League this season, having some familiarity at the helm will pay its dividends.

Bakker has been around Pistons coach Dwane Casey for six years, so much of the philosophy will carry over and provide some continuity in the offensive and defensive schemes and terminology.

“Everything they work on with us transfers when they go and play with the Pistons,” Bakker said this week.

Casey has spoken numerous times about the importance of aligning the G League franchise with the parent team and how the proximity will help having the Cruise about a mile away in their new arena near Wayne State University instead of a couple of hours away in Grand Rapids. That should be beneficial almost immediately, when players are able to practice with one team or the other and play the same night without the additional travel.

Bakker has worked closely with Saddiq Bey and previously with Luke Kennard, so he has the chops to help players improve. How Bakker handles the jump to head coach and how he, like the players he coached, develops with more responsibility will be interesting to watch.

► News: Most people have seen the “Untold: Malice at the Palace” documentary on Netflix.

► Views: How much of that was untold — or even unseen? Like most people who were around during that time, I didn’t learn anything new from the documentary. Jermaine O’Neal, a center on that Indiana Pacers team in 2004, is an executive producer for the documentary, so there should be an expectation that the storytelling would be a bit slanted.

And it was.

The focus was on how that Pacers team was constructed and that they would have been a formidable opponent for the Pistons in 2005 if they hadn’t lost many of their key players to long-term suspensions as a result of the incident. That Indiana team was really good — and they won the game handily on that night — but the Pistons had won the NBA title the year before, which seemed to be glossed over. The focus of the documentary for the Pacers was more of what could have been instead of what was, in terms of basketball.

It’s the old coach’s axiom: The best ability is availability.

Every former high school star or college player has stories of what could have been if things were different. This is the chord that the “Pacers documentary” strikes.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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