Stefanski Says Pistons Ready To Rebuild: 'Just Making Playoffs Is Not Good Enough'

They took a big step in that direction on Thursday.

Jamie and Stoney
February 07, 2020 - 10:09 am
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The trade deadline came and went Thursday, with the Pistons making one big move and holding off on any others. It wasn't the draft-pick bonanza they may have been hoping for. 

But with Andre Drummond's contract out of the picture, the organization feels it can start its rebuild in earnest. 

"Where we’re going in the future, we have to rebuild," Ed Stefanski told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. "Just making the playoffs is not good enough. We want to get a team that can compete for a championship. That’s going to take time, but you have to get your house in order. The cap when I got here two seasons ago was a struggle for us because we never had cap money. Now we’ll work toward getting as much cap space as possible and improving the young players as we go forward.

"But we have much more flexibility. And with Andre's large contract looming over us --  he could've opted in -- that might have retarded the progress of our process another year."

The Pistons dealt Drummond and his $29 million option to the Cavs for a second-round pick and two expiring contracts. If the return felt light for a two-time All-Star, Stefanski said the option scared off potential suitors. 

"A player option is very, very difficult to trade in its last year. Teams not knowing would Andre opt in, would he go to free agency, definitely hurt the possibility of trades," said Stefanski. 

Drummond Bristles At Trade: 'No Heads Up' From Pistons

In addition to Drummond, there was a belief the Pistons would trade Derrick Rose. They opted to hold onto him instead, in part for his veteran presence moving forward. The reports that the Pistons were demanding a lottery pick for Rose were not true, Stefanski said. 

"I know in the media how it just goes rampant, but there’s nothing in that lottery type of talk. That never came out of the Pistons," Stefanski said. "With Derrick Rose, I’m thrilled and I think the whole fanbase is thrilled what this guy does for us. If it was a deal that would just rocket our process here forward, then we would’ve looked at it, but it was not what we wanted.

"Derrick is terrific for us here. He’s a leader. When you’re gonna go young like we’re gonna go, you’re gonna need some veterans that can take these guys the right direction. That’s how we see Derrick. We have him on a favorable contract (through next season), he’s been a hell of pick-up for us, and he’s the type of guy you really want on the team, especially where we’re going right now." 

If Rose plays well again next season, there's a chance the Pistons could cash in when his trade value will be higher.

"That’s a very good possibility," Stefanski said. "I agree with that." 

As for Langston Galloway and Markieff Morris, Stefanksi suggested there simply wasn't much interest from other teams. 

"With trades like that, we’d pull the trigger, but we couldn’t get what made sense for us in order to go on. It takes two teams to trade," he said. "You may want to do something, but you need a partner to do it."

Asked if he would have accepted a second-round pick and/or expiring contracts for either player, Stefanski reiterated, "You need two teams to make a trade." 

The Pistons will enter this offseason with about $35 million in cap space, the most they've had in several years. As for how they'll use it, Stefanski said they must be prudent.

"We can’t make any mistakes, and I understand that. ... We have to use that money very smart. And I’m not saying it just has to be for players, it could be for bringing in assets to get future players," he said. 

Despite the Pistons' relative lack of activity on Thursday, Stefanski is pleased with what the team got done. He feels the future is coming into focus. 

"It was a long process," he said. "We started this weeks ago. We were very active on the phones with a lot of things. I told everybody -- I obviously have the most experience in the room -- to make a trade in the NBA is not easy. You can go down to the final second and it just falls apart. You'll put 100 trades up there (on the board) and if you get one done, that’s pretty good.

"In our case it was a lot of action, but we got one deal that we needed to make in order to ensure that our process begins now."