Van Gundy, Pistons ready for move to new arena
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Pistons were back at The Palace for their annual media day, so their old venue hasn’t completely been forgotten.
This season, however, is about something new.
The Pistons will play at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit, the new facility they’ll share with the Detroit Red Wings. It’s already hosting preseason hockey, and the Pistons will open the regular season there Oct. 18 against Charlotte. Their first home exhibition game is also against the Hornets on Oct. 4.
”The sight lines are terrific,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”The way it is built puts people closer to the court, which I think will give us an outstanding home-court advantage when we get those people yelling and screaming.”
It will be interesting to watch the team’s attendance, which wasn’t good during the final few seasons in Auburn Hills. The Pistons have made the playoffs just once in the past eight seasons and missed out in 2016-17 with a 37-45 record.
Center Andre Drummond said he’s been to the new arena and felt there was more emphasis on hockey than basketball.
”I felt like us coming to a new home, I felt like it would be more welcoming, in my opinion,” Drummond said. ”But maybe I’m looking at it at a wrong angle because everything is not done yet.”
This is an important season for Drummond, who received a $130 million, five-year contract from the Pistons last year, then became the subject of trade speculation months later.
”The year I had last year was not who I was,” Drummond said. ”That’s not the player I’m supposed to be. That’s not the player I’m supposed to represent for this city.”
Drummond said he’s lost about 30 pounds and now weighs 285.
”I’m moving faster, jumping higher,” Drummond said. ”I’m just feeling great overall, and it’s just something I’m really proud of myself for really taking that time and really grinding this summer out.”
Drummond underwent a procedure to correct a deviated septum – a displacement of bone and cartilage that divides the two nostrils. He says his breathing has been better, and that could have an impact on the court.
Van Gundy said Drummond sprained an ankle last week but there was no major damage. The big health issue facing the Pistons is still the condition of point guard Reggie Jackson, who had a knee problem before the start of last season and never got into a groove.
Van Gundy said Jackson can’t go through full two-a-days at this point.
”He can go once a day. He did play some five-on-five with our guys at the end of last week, and we’re just trying to decide which practice and how much and how to bring him along,” Van Gundy said. ”He’s in the shape of someone who hasn’t played in six months, so conditioning’s an issue.”
NOTES: Van Gundy said Boban Marjanovic, the team’s 7-foot-3 backup center, could be ”one of the most indefensible offensive forces in the game in the time he’s on the floor.” Marjanovic figures to have a bigger role now that Aron Baynes is no longer on the Pistons. ”It’s incumbent on us to find the best way to use him,” Van Gundy said.
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