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An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pistons owner expects team to make playoffs next season

AUBURN HILLS — Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores is pleased with the progress the team has made during his first year as owner. But he also made it clear the expectations raise next season. “We better make the playoffs. That’s realistic,” Gores said of next season. Gores didn’t say the team better make the playoffs in a threatening way. In fact it was the opposite and more of a indication of the faith he has in the team. “One of the things I realized this year is we have great players on the team,” Gores said. “I’m not sure it requires any moves to make the playoffs.” That’s not to say Gores doesn’t expect the Pistons to be active during the offseason. Gores just doesn’t want to take away anything for this year’s group “We’re open to everything,” Gores said. “I don’t want to discount or take anything away from how good our players were this year. We started 4-20. We were a pretty good team. There was a few games we didn’t finish because we were just gelling and coming together. We did have a short season to deal with. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look at the possibilities of making changes, but I’m also saying we have great players on this team.” Will the Pistons actively pursue any big free agents or possibly use the amnesty clause? Gores admitted he wasn’t sure. “It’s a good question,” Gores said. “I’m not sure really. That’s something that I leave up to Joe (Dumars) and his team. We’re gonna get Lawrence (Frank’s) input. Our goal for the franchise is to win a championship. But to do it the right way. ... That’s something that I’m going to leave to Joe and his team. We’re going to meet ... and talk about all the possibilities.” Gores has been pleased with the communication of Dumars and Frank. Gores feels communication is a huge part of success in any business and likes what he’s seen from Dumars and Frank. “Joe, Lawrence, they’re talking every day,” Gores said. ‘Part of our culture it to make sure communication is open and that you’re always speaking because when you talk and communicate good things happen. You can’t even predict what’s going to happen. But good things happen. We have reset the culture. There is no barrier between the coach, the GM and the owner. I can call Joe anytime. I can call Lawrence anytime. We have open communication.” Gores was involved in the hiring of Frank over the summer. From a team aspect, it was his first big move as owner. With one season in the books, Gores is still confident he made the right hire. “I had confidence in Lawrence when we hired him. I have even more confidence now,” Gores said. “He stays the course. He’s about work ethic, dedication. ... The team as an example, has amazing chemistry. Different chemistry than they had at the beginning of the season. I know we had a tough season last year in terms of that. Lawrence has delivered in all of that.” Gores feels progress was made during the course of the season and he expects progress to continue moving forward. “I’ll be patient with progress and I do feel like we’ve made a lot of progress this year,” Gores said. “It didn’t always convert to wins, but we did start 4-20. “It wasn’t about even the playoffs this year. It was about doing the right thing. We have to represent a quality product in Detroit. We have to represent what we stand for in Detroit. I think we did that this year. We had toughness, we had work ethic. The players worked very hard this year. They competed every single night.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Macklin makes most of opportunity

AUBURN HILLS — Piston rookie Vernon Macklin made the most of his extended playing time Wednesday night in Atlanta.

In a career-high 23 minutes, Macklin had eight points, nine rebounds, two assists and a block.

Macklin did it in a 32-point loss to the Hawks, but Pistons coach Lawrence Frank felt Macklin was a bright spot in a terrible performance by the Pistons.

“I thought he played hard,” Frank said. “He was very excited to play. He was prepared. He made sure he did his film study. I thought he came in there, I thought he gave his best effort. That’s what you’re looking for. I thought Vernon in a very, very disappointing game at least you knew he impacted the game, so that’s a positive.”

Macklin didn’t play just because it was a blowout. Frank said Tuesday he was going to give Macklin a shot in Wednesday’s game.

Frank gave veterans Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince the night off because it was the middle game of a back-to-back-to-back.

Frank has praised Macklin’s work ethic since returning from a stint in the NBA’s D-League where he averaged 14.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 10 games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Macklin made the most of his opportunity to make an impression in the D-League and followed that with a nice effort in his first extended minutes in the NBA.

Prior to Wednesday’s game Mackiln’s career-high in minutes was nine.

Frank has preached all season he wants every player to be ready when they are called upon and Macklin was up to the task Wednesday.

“You just focus on what you can control,” Frank said. “I thought his preparation, his effort, his energy level was all good. It’s his first real crack at it and it’s a shame that it was in such a non-competitive type game because it’s hard to evaluate in those one way or the other. But he took care of what he needed to take care of.”

No tanking
When a team is eliminated from the playoffs, tanking in hopes of a better draft pick always becomes a hot topic with fans and the media.

Frank made it clear Wednesday that his tweaks in the lineup as of late is in no way tanking, but just a form of evaluating.

“If you’re going to say by playing a different player on the bench is tanking, well that’s a heck of an indictment on that player,” Frank said. “You’re saying that guy’s not worthy of being in the NBA because that’s what you’re saying.”

“I don’t care who you are, when you step on the hardwood, when they’re keeping score you want to win,” Frank added. “That’s why you’re at this level. This is not a recreational sport, this is a serious competition.”

Entering Wednesday night, the Pistons had the ninth worst record in the NBA. Golden State was just a half game back, while New Jersey and Toronto were both 1.5 games back.