Pistons’ changes not nearly enough

Training camp for the Detroit Pistons won’t start until Sept. 30 and the team’s opening game for the 2014-15 season isn’t until Oct. 29 at Denver.

There’s still plenty of time to get excited about new coach Stan Van Gundy’s club, but why bother?

The Pistons, after making several player moves over the summer, will be hard pressed to make the playoffs this season, even in the weak Eastern Conference.

That’s because the player acquisitions lacked someone who will make a significant difference with a club that has fallen on hard times of late.

Detroit didn’t have a No. 1 draft pick in June after a trade a few years ago for Corey Maggette that gave the team some salary cap relief at the time, but proved costly in the long run.

The Pistons had some money to spend in the free agent market, but were only able to add some depth in Jodie Meeks, D.J. Augustine, Caron Butler, Cartier Martin and Aaron Gray.

Whether all will stay with the team to start the season and how effective they will be if they do is open to question.

No doubt there will be some spirited competition for roster spots and playing time.

It’s the best the Pistons could do in the offseason, since the team didn’t have enough money – or have the playoff potential – to attract a high-caliber free agent or two.

What star player would want to toil for the Pistons, anyway? Maybe in the past, when the club was one of the top teams in the NBA.

But not now.

Playoff potential and the chance to win an NBA title are almost as important as a lucrative contract for free agents these days.

The Pistons are going to have to show marked improvement for free agents to consider signing with the franchise in the future.

The current roster is not void of talent. Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe – if he stays, as he has until Oct. 1 to sign a one-year qualifying offer – Brandon Jennings, Kyle Singler, Josh Smith and Meeks are capable players, with Drummond approaching star status.

And Van Gundy has the coaching chops to singlehandedly bring in 10 extra wins this coming season.

But the Pistons need to function as a cohesive unit – something hard to do with so many new players – and play tighter defense if they desire to make the playoffs.

They also need several players to step up their games, Jennings and Smith, in particular.

Don’t hold your breath for any of that to happen, however.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.