AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) This offseason makeover for the Detroit Pistons is a bit different than last year’s.
Instead of making a big free agent signing and adding another key player via trade, the Pistons have made quieter moves this summer, adding better outside shooters to a team that’s missed the playoffs for the last five seasons.
Detroit introduced D.J. Augustin and Caron Butler at a news conference Tuesday after signing the two free agents. The 6-foot-7 Butler played 56 games last season for Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, averaging 10.5 points and shooting 39 percent from 3-point range. Augustin was waived by Toronto early last season, but the 26-year-old point guard caught on with Chicago and averaged 13.1 points for the season. He shot 40 percent from beyond the arc.
”Obviously both these guys played in big games, in big roles for their teams this past year,” said Stan Van Gundy, who took over this offseason as Detroit’s coach and team president. ”Both of these guys go to exactly what we’ve been talking about since the day I came in here – high-character, hard-playing guys who can shoot the ball and be a major part of what we do.”
The Pistons also signed Jodie Meeks. He was introduced Monday.
Last offseason, Detroit handed out a big contract to free agent Josh Smith, hoping he could be a driving force in a new-look lineup. The Pistons also traded for point guard Brandon Jennings.
The team ended up being a major disappointment, going 29-53. Coach Maurice Cheeks was fired in the middle of the season, and team president Joe Dumars stepped down at the end.
Smith and Jennings are still in the fold, as is talented young big man Andre Drummond. Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent.
”I see the potential,” Butler said. ”With coach Van Gundy at the helm of things now and what he’s going to insert on the defensive end and on the offensive end, and a little more consistency, we can shock a lot of people.”
Butler is familiar with Van Gundy, having played for him in Miami a decade ago.
Augustin’s minutes went up – and so did his production – when he joined the Bulls last season.
”For any guy in the NBA, when you get a chance to play a good amount of minutes every night, you get comfortable, you get confident and you get a rhythm,” he said. ”I don’t care how talented you are, if you’re not playing a certain amount of minutes in every game, you’re not going to play as well.”
Augustin hasn’t been a regular starter since he was with Charlotte in 2012, but he performed well as a backup for the Bulls. He’s confident he and Jennings can work well together.
”He’s a great player, I’m his teammate, so we’re going to try to push each other, make each other better and do whatever it takes to help the team to win,” Augustin said. ”As point guards, that’s what you have to do.”