Don’t count on Billups’ re­turn

The last time a Detroit team hired some­one out of the press box was Matt Millen

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY ROD BEARD The Detroit News

While the 16 play­off teams be­gan their quest for the NBA ti­tle last week­end, the Pis­tons were wrought with ques­tions about what their fu­ture will be. The core of the ros­ter is pretty se­cure in terms of con­tracts, and the big­gest fo­cus is on whether Stan Van Gundy will re­turn as team pres­i­dent and head coach.

Pis­tons owner Tom Gores and Van Gundy are plan­ning to meet later this week to de­ter­mine what the plan mov­ing for­ward will be. If Van Gundy stays for the fi­nal year of his con­tract, he could be in line for an ex­ten­sion, pre­vent­ing him from be­ing a lame duck.

If the two sides split ways, it could cre­ate a huge off­sea­son task for Gores, in re­con­struct­ing the bas­ket­ball staff, hav­ing to hire a new head coach, gen­eral man­ager and team pres­i­dent. It’s too early to spec­u­late on po­ten­tial names, but hav­ing all three of those po­si­tions to fill — and find­ing chem­istry within that group — would be a tough task.

The Pis­tons mailbag looks at some of the off­sea­son moves needed to get the Pis­tons back to re­spectabil­ity.

Ques­tion: Do you think the Billups to work with Arn Tellem thing has any smoke to it? @DerekS­port­sDude

An­swer: I’ve been leery of this one from the start. It has all the mak­ings of a feel-good story, with Chauncey Billups com­ing back to pull the Pis­tons out of their dol­drums. Tellem, who is the Pis­tons vice chair­man, has lots of NBA con­nec­tions in his for­mer role as an agent, would over­see the bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions. There are some hur­dles to this sce­nario work­ing, though.

Tellem still is busy in his cur­rent role, man­ag­ing the con­struc­tion of the prac­tice fa­cil­ity in Detroit, con­tin­u­ing the part­ner­ship with the Il­itch fam­ily, plus look­ing into the MLS pos­si­bil­i­ties. In many ways, mov­ing to pres­i­dent would be a de­mo­tion, as he also is a Pis­tons rep on the NBA’s Board of Gov­er­nors.

As for Billups, it’s a move that would ex­cite the fan base be­cause it’s a rec­og­niz­able name — but what are his cre­den­tials, be­yond be­ing an ESPN an­a­lyst? He was a can­di­date for the Cava­liers’ GM job last year, but he has no front-of­fice ex­pe­ri­ence. The last time a Detroit team went out and hired some­one from the press box in the front of­fice, it was Matt Millen. Billups ac­tu­ally could work out, but there are no guar­an­tees there.

Q: Most im­por­tant off-sea­son ros­ter move, con­sid­er­ing no draft pick and cap space? @kpaff3587

A: It might not be the most im­por­tant, but the de­ci­sion on An­thony Tol­liver will be crit­i­cal in de­ter­min­ing where they go in the long and short term. Tol­liver is one of the vo­cal lead­ers and top pro­duc­ers on the court and in the last 10 games, in­clud­ing eight starts, he av­er­aged 17.2 points, 4.4 re­bounds and shot 55 per­cent on 3-point­ers.

Keep­ing Tol­liver likely would mean a hefty pay in­crease, maybe to $6 mil­lion or more per sea­son. That also likely would mean mov­ing Henry El­len­son to backup cen­ter, if he’s ever go­ing to get play­ing time. It’s a tough call, but with Jon Leuer also re­turn­ing from miss­ing most of the sea­son, there are some other op­tions. The guess is that the Pis­tons let Tol­liver get a big­ger pay­day else­where.

They could look to up­grade at small for­ward, get­ting a start­ing-cal­iber player and mov­ing Stan­ley John­son to a re­serve role.

Q: With the 3 ball so im­por­tant to win­ning in the #NBA, next year is that a big pri­or­ity for the #Pis­tons? @Agridome

A: Sur­pris­ingly, the Pis­tons had two play­ers in the top 10 in 3-point shoot­ing (Reg­gie Bul­lock was sec­ond and Tol­liver sev­enth). Putting Bul­lock into the start­ing group was a big boost, and hav­ing both to­ward the end spread the court out quite a bit. De­fense was the big­ger con­cern, as the Pis­tons gave up too many points to too many bad teams (see the 130 against the Griz­zlies).

They could stand to have an­other good perime­ter de­fender, maybe in the Ken­tavi­ous Cald­well-Pope mold to help out in the back­court. Stan­ley John­son is ver­sa­tile but isn’t as good de­fend­ing smaller guards.

Q: We al­ready know you like Toronto the best. Rank the 5 worst NBA cities. @ jschrieber

A: I’ve gushed about Toronto enough over the last few years to make that one ob­vi­ous. The rest of the top five is Mi­ami, Port­land, New Or­leans and Brook­lyn/New York.

The worst cities, based on fun stuff, weather and en­ter­tain­ment: Sacra­mento, Ok­la­homa City, Mil­wau­kee, San An­to­nio and Phoenix.

Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News

Fir­ing Stan Van Gundy would cre­ate a lengthy off­sea­son to-do list for Pis­tons owner Tom Gores.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.