PARIS – Overlooking the stadium at the Palais des Sports Marcel Cerdan, home of Victor Wimpanyama and the Metropolitans 92, in Paris on Tuesday, pistons General Manager Troy Weaver sat down with his team of decision makers and watched their experience.
The Detroit front office was telescoping upstairs, overlooking the camera-filled brawl. The Pistons have been practicing in front of media from France and across Europe as they prepare to take on Chicago in the City of Love on Thursday. And while there is a file NBA Treating the event as a spectacle, Weaver and his buddies treat it as usual – another day at the office. There is work to be done, even 4,000 miles from home.
And Weaver notices a lot. He’s on the sidelines in almost every practice, almost every game. Weaver is always studying what he has created, looking for ways to improve it. The general manager, who is in his third season at the helm, believes in what he and his team are building – or as he likes to call it, “the Takeback” – but sitting at 12-35 midway through the 2022-23 season, there’s still a lot to be done. To convince the outside world that the Pistons are coming at the right time.
For 12 minutes during this open session in Paris, Weaver took the time to talk to him the athlete In an exclusive interview. He has spoken about his thoughts on this rebuilding season, the setbacks his team has suffered, the evolution of Killian Hayes, the upcoming NBA trade deadline and much more. The conversation can be read below.
(Editor’s note: This dialogue has been edited for length and clarity.)
When you did your opening press conference for the season, the one thing you wanted to see this season was for your team to be competitive. In the middle of the year, where are you with what you saw in this regard?
Given where we are and where we’ve been, during the season with health, I feel good about that. We compete, pretty much, every night. We were outnumbered most nights and still sparring. Road Trip West is really important to me, those six games. We were competitive in every game, we had a chance to win every game and we were three or four key players behind. I was pleased with the way we competed this year.
Fans tend to think development, whether individual or team, has to be linear. Usually not. And when it comes to your team I’m not sure people really know where you guys are from and how it differs from other young teams like thunderwhich he had Paul George to trade to stimulate their rebuilding, or Charmwho had a coveted player Nikola Vucevic to trade. You don’t have anything close to that kind of a starting point. When you accepted this job, how short were you considering the lack of assets, trading chips at the time, and how challenging it would be to get this thing from scratch?
We knew it was going to be a challenge and a huge effort. We understand what the fans want. They want to see a winner on the ground. take time. That’s why we called it Restoration. One day, you know, it looks like the car is going to start and shine. Some days you see some faded spots and rust that you’ve never seen before. …going through this, it’s not easy. That’s why I was so big on making sure there were the right people to review them. A lot of teams go through rebuilds, retools, whatever you want to call it, and they just can’t get out of it because of what they have in the locker room. We take great pride in having the fit guys and have a big locker room so we can fight through this thing. Believe me, the dam is going to break, and when it does, it will have a great flow on it. We just have to be patient, stay in the boat and keep working.
I’m more confident than I was on June 18, 2020, that we’ll get this thing where it needs to be.
This season has always been a developmental season. We’ve seen that, for sure, from individuals. However, with Kid Cunningham Being out for the season, and already sustaining serious injuries to other players over the course of the year, was assessing team development challenging for you? From my point of view, this felt like the most important thing for you in the season.
Yes sure. It was a challenge for us. I don’t know how many different starting line-ups a coach has. From the point of view of team development, for lack of better words, we have not been able to constantly find an identity. That was the challenge. When we got all our big men out, we couldn’t make an identification. Alec Burks He would have been the catalyst for our benches, but he started the season sorely. Since his return, our seat has been the first seat in the league. It wasn’t just providing all of those things available to us. So from team development, this was the roller coaster. Individually, yes, you can see the growth in a lot of guys. From Killian, Isaiah (Stewart), The Apprentice, Guy Like Kevin Knox.
People don’t talk about it, but a guy who I consider to be an essential member for us, who’s out and not talked about enough, Isaiah liver. His absence was profound. Getting him back healthy has been amazing. Now, it’s time for him to stay healthy, have some sort of season and grow up like Killian and Isaiah (Stewart) and those other guys. It’s a big part of our future and what we’re trying to do.
Pistons’ Kid Cunningham on shin surgery: ‘I don’t regret it at all’
With Killian, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a turnaround in the season like I did. I think a lot of people thought, because he played professionally before he was drafted, he’d be more prepared than he was. Obviously that wasn’t the case, and we talked about development not always being linear. One thing we all miss or forget is that he didn’t play against the Americans, really, until he set foot in the NBA. In Europe, they’re great at teaching the basics, but it’s definitely a different style of play than what kids who have grown up playing in America learn. Do you think a lot of his jumps this year are simply about finally getting used to all the things that come with American-style basketball?
I’ve said it from day one that he needs to become American with his game, and also with the culture and understanding of what the American game is like, the mentality. The second part of it is that I’m old enough to have kids who’ve been to college and kids who’re still there, and whoever you send away doesn’t go back in their freshman year a changed person. Sometimes this is their sophomore year, junior year. It just takes time. So, for me, it took Killian a few years. Now, his junior year is back from spring break and he’s like, “Oh, wow, my kid has changed.” It just took it. Sometimes, it takes a year, and he comes back in the summer and he’s like, “Wow. He’s really changed. I’m so proud of him. He takes out the trash and makes his bed. Not all kids do that right away. This kid had to become Americanized. Growing up was different.” I have never wavered on the person or the player.
Is this kind of reassuring to you?
Nah. Maybe for him. not mine. Maybe everyone else. To trust himself and his game, the American game. He only played one year with Ulm and then left. If he had played a few years there, well, fine. But one year, and he was recruited. I’m proud of the way he stayed and fought a lot of things in a foreign land. Now, to see him be confident in who he is and be confident as an NBA player, that’s cool.
Jalen Duren has a chance to be a great player because he’s such a great teammate. You can look at his physical talents and all that stuff, but the way he was a teammate, for a young kid, that’s a big time. Jaden Ivey has a solid mindset in wanting to be successful. You can hear about things, but until you live with someone, you don’t really know. He is determined to want to be successful as a player and as a person. To see that every day is really good and refreshing.
One last thing for you… From just outside the house, it seems to me that you guys have aspirations, sooner rather than later, of a challenge somewhere in the post-season. Does that change your guys’ approach to this year’s trade deadline, as opposed to how you guys have managed the last two years?
First, before you answer the last question, is the initial observation fair?
It’s fair to say, but we’ll be approaching this deadline as close to previous ones. We’ll turn over every rock, and if something comes our way that we think can improve our team, we’ll definitely look into it.
It’s all about growth and moving the team forward. Certainly, we want to be in a position to move the group forward and improve. We’ll look at everything.
(Photo by Troy Weaver: Kyle Terada/USA Today)