Beard: Pistons preach patience as Troy Weaver tries to build ‘sustainable winner’

Detroit News

Washington, D.C. — The Pistons have 26 games left in the season, but with a 12-44 record, it’s not time to fold up the tent and start thinking about tropical island vacations.

The last stretch of the season is important in helping to chart the course for their rebuild, to see how these pieces general manager Troy Weaver has assembled fit together.

It’ll be especially important for Marvin Bagley III, the Pistons’ acquisition at the trade deadline. They added a big piece they were lacking in their roster, with an athletic big man who can work in the paint and take some of the pressure off the perimeter shooters when the shots aren’t falling.

There are some knowns with Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant, but there are still plenty of things to figure out with this roster, question marks that injuries and COVID issues have prevented from being answered in the early part of the season. The Pistons’ rebuild has been slow, but he’s been patient and he hasn’t gone off script to try to speed up the process.

“The process is to build a sustainable winner — and it takes time. So, I’m sure everyone would like us to fast-track it, but you only have one shot at this thing, and in our restoring process, we don’t want to skip any steps,” Weaver said Sunday. “We don’t want to try to shortcut anything, so we want to stay committed to the process and stay committed to building it the right way. We’re not really concerned about how it looks, per se, on the win-loss record, as long as we build it the right way.

“Wins will come as long as we stay true to the process and build it the right way. We’re going to continue to follow the blueprint and we feel very confident we’ll come out on the other turning this thing the right way.”

That’s a strong statement supporting what the team has done this season, struggling through some lopsided losses and with a fan base that just wants to see some flicker of hope in the dark days of the rebuild.

More: Bagley III plans to ‘just be myself’ as he lands new opportunity with Pistons

Rebuilds take time. They take patience. They take some understanding that some of the deals for players are going to be shaky at first, but in Weaver’s case, they’ve generally panned out. The Pistons tore the house down to the studs in their restoration, and getting back to a respectable level won’t happen overnight.

Weaver understands the criticism and the skepticism, and that some fans even wanted to trade Jerami Grant for more draft picks and more opportunities to get young players. Within that, though, is the probability to extend the rebuild, unloading a veteran who can help guild the young core.

“Fans can have different views and opinions, but in a rebuild, you can’t have a team just full of guys under 24 years old, they all won’t make it out,” Weaver said. “You need a veteran presence, and you need guys in their prime that are really good players that are a model that they can look up to and help them, because they can’t fight it off all on their own.

“They haven’t been through it. That’s been out thought process with Jerami going in, and that continues to be our process. But we’ll continue to look at improving the team, so we’re excited that Jerami is still with us. That’s been the thought process with us with Jerami.”

Restoring isn’t for the faint of heart. Many nights are going to present the blood and guts of inexperience, of things just not sinking in immediately. Weaver made a point of noting the Pistons have the right players for this, because it’s not for everybody. It’s a learning process, but it’s also a mentally draining process.

That begs the question about when the restoration will be done. It’s a legitimate question, but it’s also like making a good meal. The process includes plenty of hard work and dirty dishes before the final plate is done.

It’ll be done when it’s done — and not before then.

“I don’t really have a marker on where we are and when (the restoration) will be done. We’re just trying to stay in the process and get this thing right,” Weaver said. “We don’t expect it to be five years to get it done, and the restoring is one where we have to get the right people, we have to get enough talent, and then we need to get that talent to be cohesive.

“We’re in the process right now of still acquiring talent. When I got here, we just didn’t have enough talent and acquiring a guy like Bagley helps that. We’ll have another good pick this year, which will help that. Now, we have cap space, which will help, so acquiring talent and the right people is where we are right now. We expect next season to have enough talent here…

“After we get the talent, then we need to get it to be cohesive so it can start really competing. I would say that’s where we are right now, continuing to acquire the talent that should be bolstered by this addition of Bagley, another draft pick and the free-agent process. So, next season, we’re looking forward to having some more talent here so that we can start to really compete at a high level.”

Patience. Just patience.

Pistons at Wizards

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Monday, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: The new-look Wizards (25-30) have lost nine of their last 11 games, and they’ll be without Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. The Pistons (12-44) have lost seven straight games, including six by double digits.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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