| The Detroit News
Pistons GM Troy Weaver: ‘I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel’
“Untouchables? No. Nobody is untouchable. I learned never say never, but there are some guys that are here to stay,” Weaver said.
The Detroit News
In 2008, then-Pistons general manager Joe Dumars made the notable declaration about his championship-level roster and the outlook for improving the roster, even in the midst of making six straight Eastern Conference finals.
“There are no sacred cows here,” Dumars said famously.
Troy Weaver, who has been the Pistons general manager for less than a year has taken that maxim to a new level. Not only are there no sacred cows, but there isn’t much left over from the last season’s roster at all.
After Saturday’s announcement of the trade that sent Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round pick for 22-year-old Hamidou Diallo, Sekou Doumbouya is the lone remaining player from last season’s roster.
Doumbouya, 20, is in his second season. That’s it. He’s the longest-tenured Pistons player, followed by the rookies who were drafted in November, then the free agents. Weaver might not be done remaking the roster, either, with the trade deadline approaching on March 25.
Wayne Ellington, on a one-year veteran-minimum deal, is a likely candidate for a trade. As is almost everybody — if the deal is right — as Weaver hinted this week.
“Untouchables? No. Nobody is untouchable. I learned never to say never, but there are some guys that are here to stay, so we’ll see,” Weaver said. “I might say, ‘Oh yeah, this guy’s untouchable,’ and then somebody calls me up with four first-round picks — then he’s not untouchable. Strange things have happened.”
That reference was likely to Jerami Grant, who probably is the closest thing to untouchable on the roster, but teams have shown interest in several Pistons players ahead of the deadline. Given the Pistons’ current position with the worst record in the East at 10-28, they have to look at almost any trade offer.
Weaver, though, is shrewd enough to sift through the fluff and try to find upside, as he did with Diallo.
“(Diallo) is an excellent wing runner who is quick and athletic — probably one of the most athletic wings in the league,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He needs to continue working on his 3-point shooting, which is what our league is about, but defensively, he’ll step right in as one of our top defenders.
“He does a great job of doing that and he has a wingspan that’s out of this world. He anticipates well and he competes on every possession. He’s a young kid, 22, so he fits right in to our (timeline) with the rest of our roster.”
It’s not that Mykhailiuk did anything wrong, but Weaver has shown in the construction of this roster that he prefers players with long wingspans — Diallo is 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan — and he’s uber-athletic, with a win in the Slam Dunk Contest among his accolades.
Casey said he wasn’t sure when Diallo would be able to join the team, as he’s coming off a groin issue, but it could be this week, when the Pistons have three of their four games at home.
The Monday Drive looks at a few takeaways from this week:
► Rodney McGruder has shown himself to be a valuable asset as a veteran presence who can play multiple positions, and he can just be productive on the court. He had 10 points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s loss to the Nets and in his last four games, he’s averaged 11.7 points in about 21 minutes, plus he’s shooting 42% on 3-pointers.
“He had seven rebounds and you don’t even notice him going in there and mixing it up but he’s cutting, he’s moving without the ball,” Casey said. “He’s just a glue guy, one of those guys who just knows how to play; he plays hard, competes and he’s fearless. He kind of sets the tone for us, so I love the way he plays.”
► Killian Hayes is inching closer to returning to the lineup. He’s been doing some light work in practice and the fact he’s making road trips is showing the Pistons want to get him more acclimated to game situations and the few practices they’re having, so that he can have a good transition back into the lineup. It’s not clear whether Hayes will start when he returns, but it seems possible also that they could allow him to ease his way back into playing and then ramp his minutes up as he goes. Weaver said there will be an update on Hayes’ status this week.
► The news Dennis Smith Jr. is in health and safety protocols and will be out of the lineup is disappointing. He was starting to get into a good groove and was playing well as the backup point guard. Weaver said also he was impressed with Smith, and that they wanted to take a long look at his development as a potential fit for the roster beyond this season. Smith’s absence will give more opportunity for Saben Lee — and eventually Hayes, when he returns — to split up the minutes.
► Josh Jackson missed the last two games before the All-Star break, and he’s begun the second half struggling offensively. He went 4-of-10 from the field against the Hornets and 3-of-10 at the Nets. He was a combined 1-of-7 on 3-pointers and he just hasn’t been finishing around the rim as effectively as he has at times this season. Jackson is the catalyst for the second group and when he’s not scoring efficiently, it leaves a bit of a void for the young players to try to create their own offense. Lee and Isaiah Stewart have improved in those areas, but Jackson’s return to his normal production will help the second group immensely.
Pistons vs. Spurs
► Tipoff: 8 p.m. Monday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
► TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
► Outlook: The Pistons (10-28) have lost three straight games and will play at home for the first time since Feb. 28. The Spurs are in the thick of the playoff race in the West and will be on the second game of a back-to-back, after facing the East-leading 76ers on Sunday.
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