Pistons president Joe Dumars sat down with Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois on Thursday to discuss a variety of subjects with the opening of training camp less than two weeks away. Hereís Part I of their conversation:
KEITH LANGLOIS: Less than two weeks before training camp starts, Iím going to ask you the question that I get asked everywhere I go for the last six weeks or so. Two questions, really: Why havenít the Pistons made any trades this summer and when are the Pistons going to make some trades? Iím sure those are questions you get, too, so take your best shot.
JOE DUMARS: First and foremost, the question for me is when will we get an offer for the Pistons thatís going to make us a better team? We had opportunities to make trades this summer but I thought they were deals that were going to make us regress or deals that were lateral, at best. So Iím sure that would have satisfied the people who are asking, hey, letís just do a deal. But that wouldnít have made us better. My job is to make us better, not just be able to make deals to be able to check off the box and say we made four deals this summer. I have to look at all these deals and if I donít think itís going to make us better, of if theyíre just lateral moves, then my job is to wait until the right deal comes along that we will jump on. Until then, you have to be patient and wait for the appropriate deal to come along.
KL: This is the time of year when typically there is very little trade activity. Do you expect that to stay the same this year? When you look at depth charts, there are still some teams that, to me at least, seem to have incomplete depth charts. Do you expect that will have an effect on the possibility for trades through training camp, preseason or earlier in the season than usual?
JD: The typical trend, historically, you donít see a lot of trades in late September, a couple of weeks before training camp. Very rarely have I seen that. Normally what happens now is people go into training camp, they go into preseason, and they go into the first quarter of the year, 20 games or so. I think what youíre going to see and what you normally see is from this point today until the first 20 games of the season, itís a big evaluation period for a lot of teams to see where they are, to get a feel for where they are. You think you can be pretty good, you like your roster, but you still have to see how it all unfolds, and I think between now and the first 20 games of the season, youíll see teams do a lot of evaluating.
KL: With less than those two weeks to go until training camp, whatís your big-picture perspective on where you think this team is at right now?
JD: Right now what we are is a very diverse team, and when I say diverse what I mean is that when I watch us and watch our guys play pickup, we have long athletes out there that can play multiple positions. If I had to describe our team and what I see from us right now, itís versatile. I think we have a very versatile team right now. I also think the one thing that weíre missing with our team right now is the big, the oversized, 7-foot guy you can stick in the middle of your defense, in the middle of your offense, and play. We donít have that particular guy yet, but I like all the other parts that we have. So we can play a versatile style of basketball until we address that at some point.
KL: I assume youíre going with the 15 you have into camp. Will there be any additional invitations?
JD: As of today, we just have 15. Weíve talked about maybe adding one person to training camp and weíre discussing that and weíre going to make a decision by the end of this week Ė by tomorrow, actually Ė if weíre going to try to bring somebody else in or not. As of now, we would go to camp with the 15 guys we have and get started right away.
KL: If there were to be an additional person, are you looking at a particular position?
JD: Maybe a big. If we can find a young big to bring to training camp, I think that would be our first choice. We have an overabundance of wing guys, so the last thing we need to do is bring another wing guy. We have a lot of guys who can play the four position. If we do something, it could be a big somewhere.
KL: Probably the most surprising news of the summer was the Tracy McGrady signing. I know you canít make any meaningful assessments of his fitness until youíve seen him going up and down the court multiple days in a row, but based on what youíve seen so far as youíve watched him here working out with Arnie, what have you seen with him?
JD: What I saw was a dedication to getting into great shape. What I saw was a dedication to the work ethic this summer. Weíre pleased with what we saw from him this summer since we signed him. We talked to him about making an immediate impact of showing that heís committed. We thought it was important for him, for the coaching staff, for the other players to know that Tracy McGrady was in here for a month straight, three days a week, four days a week with Arnie Kander. We thought that was important to send a signal, not only because we asked, but because your teammates need to hear this and your coaches need to see this. If youíre going to make this work the way we think it can, youíre going to have to do this. You were here Ė you saw him. The guy came in and did it just the right way. He never called in and missed a day. He was here every day with Arnie. We like that. Now, what we want to do is see it translate to training camp and see how it goes in training camp. But so far, we could not be more pleased from what we see with Tracy.
KL: The impression I got from talking to him is that at least in his mind, heís very much convinced that his knee is healthy and ready to go. Iím assuming you got the same impression from him. If that knee is healthy, what can a Tracy McGrady at 31 add?
JD: We feel if we have any percentage thatís close to a healthy Tracy McGrady, weíve added an impact player, a guy who can impact our team. Yet to be seen, how healthy and how things are going to go. So far this summer, what weíve seen weíve really liked. If he can stay healthy and be anything close to what weíve seen over the years, he has a track record that says heís been and can be an impact player in this league. But we will all be watching it unfold just like everybody else to see how it unfolds. There is a certain mystery to how this is going to unfold. Weíre hoping for the best. What weíve seen so far has been excellent. But I also know it has to translate onto that court in a five-on-five, competitive NBA game. If all of that can translate, then I think weíre going to feel really good about the situation.
KL: The big question that a lot of people have been asking about this since youíve added Tracy is, when you look at your depth chart, youíve got Tayshaun, Tracy, Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon and even Austin Daye, whoís had a very impressive summer, for really two positions. I know this is something that ultimately is for John Kuester and his coaches to decide, but how do you envision the pieces fitting?
JD: I will let John do that, but I will say this also. Iíve heard that we have some wing guys already, but I also know we went 27 and 55 last year and it was the toughest year weíve had in the past decade. So I can easily get past any position being overloaded when youíre coming off of a 27 and 55 record. I will set the injuries aside just for a second and say we didnít get it done like we are accustomed to, so thereís nothing in stone here that says you canít go out and get a guy who can potentially be an impact guy for you. We were 27 and 55. Now, if we were 55 and 27, then I would be willing to listen to that. But until we get back to what weíve been accustomed to over this decade, Iím going to try to add as many impact guys as we can and I donít really give a damn if itís overloaded or not.
KL: So having too many scorers is a better dilemma to have than having 60 points a game in street clothes?
JD: Thatís what Iím saying. I sat there and watched us last year and play shorthanded and not have enough to compete at a high level and now, you tell me weíre overloaded? That argument doesnít even get through my door. It stops. Because I donít even hear it.
There's a lot of good information there. It's a lot of the stuff we've discussed and the answers are coming straight from the top now. I'm glad he sees there is a hole in the middle. I'm glad he's not making a trade for the sake of making a trade.