Why Detroit Pistons will shop for free agent help under tight budget

DETROIT — Dwane Casey is evidently a fan of Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells.

Asked about his role in the Detroit Pistons’ decision-making process, the newly-hired head coach invoked the quote Parcells said famously when he left the New England Patriots after the 1996 season.

“Like what Bill Parcells said a long time ago,” Casey told the Free Press this week. “When you’re asked to cook the dinner, you want to have a say-so in helping buy the groceries.

“I want to be able to say ‘this is what we need, this is what we like. I like this guy, I don’t like that guy,’ rather than reading in the newspaper the Detroit Pistons signed so-and-so or they’re pursuing so-and-so.”

Casey’s input will be sought as the Pistons head into the NBA’s annual free agency period, which begins Sunday.

Senior adviser Ed Stefanski will steer the ship with assistance from Casey, Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem and assistant general manager Malik Rose.

The new front office will likely be judicious in its spending.

Under former team president Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower, the Pistons overpaid for mid-tier free agents routinely. Under Stefanski, that will likely cease.

And with 12 players under contract, the Pistons are well over the $101 million salary cap and only $5 million under the $123 million luxury tax.

Given the Pistons are coming off a 39-43 season and have roster questions, they will not go over the luxury tax line. But the team still needs another small forward to go along with third-year player Stanley Johnson.

“We’ll talk to agents after (July 1) to tell them we like their players that may fall through the cracks,” Stefanski told reporters Thursday. “The wing spot would be the one spot if we can address it, I’d say that’s the No. 1 priority.”

Front office seeking ‘collaborative environment’

After four seasons with personnel decisions and coaching responsibilities centered around Van Gundy, Pistons owner Tom Gores signaled a new direction when he fired the team president and coach in early May after two straight years of missing the postseason.

The decision was made to split the two roles, and Stefanski was hired to lead the franchise through the transition. Casey was later hired as the 36th head coach in franchise history. The team announced Friday that Rose has been hired as an assistant general manager.

Stefanski has served in lead management roles with the Memphis Grizzlies (2014-18), Toronto Raptors (2011-13), Philadelphia 76ers (2007-11) and New Jersey Nets (1998-2007).

As a scout and executive with the Nets, Stefanski was instrumental in developing the roster that reached the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

“Ed has all the experience he needs to be the guy, but it’s not what he’s worried about,” Gores told the Free Press recently. “Ed’s worried about making sure we get what we want for the long-term future. He’s fitting in somewhere on the top, no doubt about it, but the great thing about Ed is he can swoop into the (general manager) position or he could be the head of basketball. There’s a lot of things Ed can do, but Ed doesn’t come before developing the right organization.

“He’s the guy heading the execution of things, but it’s a very collaborative environment right now.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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