Dwane Casey on future with Pistons: ‘I want to do what’s best for the organization’

Detroit News

Detroit — Nearly 40 minutes passed after RJ Hampton left the podium following yet another Pistons loss before coach Dwane Casey emerged for his post-game press conference, which was far later than usual.

Most of the players and team’s coaching staff left the arena before Casey sat before reporters to field questions about Detroit’s 11th consecutive loss, falling 123-108 to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Pistons owner Tom Gores sat courtside next to Jalen Rose for the team’s home finale, a loss that resulted in securing a franchise-worst home record of 9-32. Despite the loss, Gores cheered his team on throughout the game and gave his players a standing ovation as they walked off the court for the final time this season at Little Caesars Arena.

Gores didn’t speak to reporters Wednesday, but Casey said he had a conversation with him after the game and they plan to meet again once the season concludes to discuss the direction of the team.

“We just met,” Casey said. “We just talked about how we’re going to look at everything and meet again after we’re all done and see which way we all want to go as far as the organization, but there’s nothing been decided as far as that’s concerned, or talked about.”

Casey said his chat with Gores centered around the team’s effort, which Gores appreciated. There was also optimism surrounding Detroit’s upcoming top-five lottery pick, its status as one of the teams with the most cap space to spend in free agency and lastly, the return of Cade Cunningham and their other injured rotation players to next season’s roster.

Detroit has been without Bojan Bogadanovic, Alec Burks, Isaiah Stewart and Hamidou Diallo since early March.

“I think we get disillusioned a little bit about those guys not being here,” Casey said. “That was the message. He was happy about the way that (Jaden) Ivey and (Jalen) Duren have grown and gotten better, which they have. That’s a big plus for this year and kind of the silver lining for Cade being hurt is the development of Ivey.”

Despite the non-discussion about Casey’s status going forward, the veteran coach reassured his commitment to Gores by reminding the room that he’s still under contract through the 2023-24 season.

“I’m here. I’m under contract for another year,” Casey said. “I committed to Tom. We were winning (almost) 60 games when I left (Toronto) and now we’re losing 60 games (in Detroit), but I committed to him to help turn around the organization and we are where we are right now. I know it seems like it’s forever away, but we’re not that far away.”

The Pistons have had one of their worst seasons in franchise history and are two losses away from tying the 1979-80 team-low record of 16-66. The club has been decimated by injuries, which affected continuity and rotations throughout the season. Inexperience has also played a factor.

Without their scoring veteran duo and scrappiness of Diallo and Stewart, Detroit’s focus for the final stretch of the season has shifted to the ongoing development of their mid-season acquisitions, including James Wiseman, Eugene Omoruyi and Hampton, who had the best game of his NBA career on Wednesday with a career-high 27 points five 3-pointers (5-of-8).

Hampton spoke to the Pistons’ routine of competing in stretches and not for the full game.

“It definitely came down to the little things,” Hampton said after the loss. “There’s not much to say than the little things. I think that’s what we’ve been dealing with all season, at least since I’ve been here. We’re in the game, then we kind of give in to the other team. I don’t think the other team beats us. We beat ourselves, so if we can learn how to sustain that for 48 minutes instead of 42 minutes, I think we’ll be fine.”

Whether the Pistons’ inability to be consistent lies on the players’ effort or if it stems from coaching remains to be seen. Casey is in his fifth season since he was hired in 2018 after winning Coach of the Year honors in Toronto. Since his arrival in Detroit, Casey has compiled a 120-259 record (31% win percentage) as coach of the Pistons.

“Nobody loves losing at all,” Casey said. “I think about the last year in Toronto when we won 59 games. Now, we’re on the opposite side of that. I know what the opposite side feels like. I was on that side of it in the rebuild in Toronto. I’ve seen the advancement and the growth and I’ve seen how quick it can turn. They won a championship by adding one player in Kawhi Leonard, but the foundation was there. It seems like it’s far away, but it’s not. I hope our fans will understand moving forward…let’s look at the big picture for the team and go from there.”

Casey sounded like a man who was at peace with his future, regardless of the outcome, when asked what would it mean for him to return next season to continue developing Detroit’s young nucleus.

“It would be good, but I want to do what’s best for the organization,” Casey said. “I love coaching. I love teaching. I’m not going to sit here and predict the future. We have two games to go. There will be a lot of time to sit down and figure everything out — whether it’s coming back here and coach or whatever decision Tom or Troy has for me. I’m a big boy. I’m not going to fade away or fade into the sunset or anything like that. There’s a lot of basketball still in me. I’m not sitting here looking for pity or anything like that, but whatever Tom and Troy decides to do, it’ll be that way.”

Decisions will be made one way or another during the offseason. Players will be evaluated. Coaches will, too. One thing’s for certain: Casey will be on the sideline for the Pistons’ last two games of the season in a two-game roadtrip at Indianapolis and Chicago.

Pistons at Pacers

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Bankerslife Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

TV/radio: BSD/97.1


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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