Detroit Pistons’ Troy Weaver knows what next coach needs: Discipline, development, defense

Detroit Free Press

Every offseason is important. This one is especially so for the Detroit Pistons, who are looking to boost their rebuild following a 17-65 season.

It was clear this season that, despite some bad luck with injuries, the Pistons need to make a leap in the talent to ascend in a deep Eastern Conference. General manager Troy Weaver and outgoing head coach Dwane Casey met with the media for the final time this season on Tuesday. Weaver’s portion largely focused on the big decisions that will be made in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s what they had to say.

Coaching search won’t be rushed

Weaver didn’t waste time addressing the elephant in the room. During his opening remarks, he laid out some of the boxes he expects the next head coach to check.

“We have the coaching search coming up,” he said. “That’s going to be, for me, I know what this team needs is simple — discipline, development and defense. That’s going to be the call for the next coach.”

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Weaver didn’t set any expectations on when the position will be filled. It could be in a week, or in six weeks, he said. But he and Casey both agreed that it’s an attractive job. Despite the worst record in the NBA this season, the Pistons have tools to turn things around quickly. They’ll have a top-five pick and salary cap space. Cade Cunningham is nearing 100% health after undergoing surgery to repair a shin fracture.

The Pistons are considering a variety of candidates — young and older, experienced and first-timers. With a long offseason ahead, they’re in no rush to find the right person for the job.

“This is a prime situation for any coach, whether it’s a young coach, older coach or whatever the description Troy comes up with as far as the parameters,” Casey said. “It’s ready. The young talent is here, the position is here. You look at a young man Troy brought in in James Wiseman. That kid is a piece of clay. I’ve said that and guys have heard me say that all the time. Cade Cunningham, there’s development there and talent there. (Jaden) Ivey. You go right down the line and the pieces are there. Just need time.

“We know the selling points,” Weaver added. “We’ve got great ownership, we’ve got great leadership, we’ve got a great city and a great fan base and we’ve got some young talent here. I’m just looking for the right coach. It’s not a sales job at all.”

Pistons thankful for Casey’s service, leadership

Casey reflected on his 44-year coaching career that culminated the past five seasons in Detroit — the bulk of which leading a rebuild he didn’t initially sign up for, but ultimately embraced. Casey will now work alongside Weaver in the front office.

The details of Casey’s exact role are still being hashed out, but he’ll likely have the freedom to attack his new position as he sees fit.

“Troy and I will talk about it,” Casey said. “We talked about it the other day as far as (there is) no rush. I’ll find a role. I know what I know and I know what I don’t know. I know I know the game, I know talent, I know evaluation, I know people and I try to treat people the right way. Hopefully that comes back in spades across the league, across the number of years I’ve been in the league.”

Weaver stood beside Casey, thanking him for the job he did as head coach. Leading a rebuild is a thankless job, but Weaver was appreciative of Casey’s experience, guidance, leadership and his role in developing young players.

“Three years in a row, guys have been All-Rookie under his tutelage here,” Weaver said. “He’s taken bullets for the organization. It’s not easy, winning 20 games. That’s tough. He’s been criticized, this man did it with style, he did it with grace, he did it with integrity. And that’s the reason he’s going to continue to be with us, because the way he conducts himself is what the Pistons organization is all about.

“It’s made me better at my job, it’s made me a better person. I wanted to come in and thank him in front of you guys. I talked to him the other day and told him how much I appreciated him, and I will continue to lean on him. It wasn’t easy for him and his family to go through this because he’s on the front line. That’s not easy. But we’ll get on the other side and he’ll be on the other side with us.”

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Wing depth a priority

Cunningham, Ivey and Killian Hayes are all top-seven picks and best with the ball in their hands, and Alec Burks gives the team a veteran scorer. Up front, they have Wiseman, Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III.

There’s a clear need at the wing positions, though. Bojan Bogdanovic was one of the NBA’s most efficient scorers, but didn’t bring much defensively during his first season in Detroit. Isaiah Livers fits the “3-and-D” archetype, but the Pistons will look to upgrade their perimeter defense this summer.

“We could use another wing defender,” Weaver said. “We’ve got Livers who fits that bill. We need another wing defender, preferably that can shoot the ball as well. A wing defender that can shoot it, I would say that’s maybe the one tool we don’t have.”

2020 draft class and extensions

The 2020 NBA draft class will become extension-eligible this offseason, and the Pistons have three players who could sign long-term deals — Hayes, Stewart and Wiseman. It’s conceivable that at least one of the three will be brought into restricted free agency next summer rather than sign an extension this summer.

“We’ll have some discussions to vet that out,” Weaver said. “Nothing heavy right now, but when it’s time we’ll have those discussions. We have a few guys who are ready for that. We have a few other things to cross off first, but we look forward to having those discussions.”

No updates on Rob Murphy

It has been six months since the Pistons placed assistant general manager Rob Murphy on leave from the organization, as the team investigates a claim of workplace misconduct involving a female employee. The Pistons didn’t put a timetable on the investigation, and Weaver didn’t have any updates when asked by the Free Press.

“Still working through that process,” he said. “That’s not in our hands right now. Hopefully we’ll have a resolution for that soon.”

Listen to “The Pistons Pulse” every Tuesday morning at 5 and on demand on freep.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. And catch all of our podcasts and daily voice briefing at freep.com/podcasts.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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