New Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey made his expectations for the upcoming season clear while being introduced by the team Wednesday.
“I’m telling the guys now: We’re not developing, we’re not two or three years away,” Casey told reporters. “We want to win right now.”
Casey, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, was hired by the Pistons to replace Stan Van Gundy last week. Casey inherits a roster that has high-profile names in Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, though the team is without a first-round pick in Thursday’s NBA draft as a result of the Griffin trade.
With Jackson only playing 45 games due to injury and Griffin acquired midseason, the Pistons only went 39-43 last season, missing the playoffs.
“The most important thing is the talent level you have with Blake, Andre and Reggie to start with,” Casey said. “They’re veteran players and the next level is Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson — whom I’ve always admired from afar — and Henry Ellenson, three very talented young players.”
Casey joins the team after being fired by the Toronto Raptors despite leading them to a franchise-record 59 wins last season. He was let go after a second-round playoff loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I can hold my head high for what we built in Toronto,” Casey said. “That’s part of the journey. This is a new chapter.”
Detroit is also looking for a fresh start after parting ways with Van Gundy, who was also the team’s president of basketball operations. Ed Stefanski was hired as a senior adviser and has been tasked with reshaping the team’s basketball operations staff in addition to hiring Casey to fill the coaching vacancy.
“We’re going through a process here. We’re thinking about, do we want to go a GM route? Do we want to get some younger guys in there and I can mentor them kind of thing? It’s fluid,” Stefanski said. “I’m going to be very influential in the front office.”
Stefanski said he doesn’t see the team making any big moves anytime soon. Casey doesn’t believe a splash is needed, instead focusing on better health as the key to the Pistons’ success moving forward.
“The talent base is there. The No. 1 nemesis is health. We’ve got to work and find a way to make sure we stay healthy, whether it’s being innovative and creative with our training methods to work and stay healthy,” Casey said. “(Injuries have) been a nemesis for us, but it’s part of the NBA.”
—Field Level Media