By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS - The Detroit Pistons entered the offseason hoping to add three elements to the roster before the start of the 2015-2016 season: the ability to stretch the floor, the willingness to play with great energy, and the willingness to play with toughness, particularly on the defensive end.
With the trade for Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova, Detroit got all three attributes in one player, Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy said Tuesday.
"It starts with his ability to stretch the floor, but I think in Ersan's case, he adds a lot more than that, and that's what we really liked," Van Gundy said at the team's practice facility, where the Pistons introduced Ilyasova. "If you look around now, almost everybody's trying to find at least one stretch four, but there's not many of those people who rebound the ball, particularly on the offensive board, the way Ersan does. So you add that to the picture.
"Then there's not very many guys who can catch the ball against rotations and put it on the floor and make the next pass like he can, and then to also get a toughness on the defensive end of the floor - you usually give those things up to get a stretch four," Van Gundy continued. "That was sort of our plan for the entire summer, not really thinking that we were going to get all three of those things in one guy, and I think that's why this trade was really exciting for us."
The Pistons acquired Ilyasova in exchange for forwards Caron Butler and Shawne Williams, and Van Gundy was more than happy to do the deal. The coach inquired about Ilyasova when he first arrived in Detroit last year, and he also did so when he coached the Orlando Magic. Van Gundy said the Detroit players are excited about the acquisition of Ilyasova, too.
"This was a home run," Van Gundy said. "There are some where you end up liking a deal and you take it, but it's maybe 51-49 on how you feel about it. This one, we were 100 percent on this one. This was a great, great deal for us at this point in where we're trying to go."
Van Gundy did not address forward Greg Monroe, who has spent the last five years in Detroit and who is now an unrestricted free agent, but he talked as though Monroe is definitely gone, a fact that has been assumed for a while.
"Both the draft and free agency now, we know sort of where our focus has got to be, the small forward spot and backup centers," Van Gundy said. "That's really where our focus is now. We're comfortable, very, very comfortable, with where we are at the one, two and four spots. It was a little scary thinking about going into the summer and saying, 'You might have to go get two starters.'
"Now we feel like we've got four starters that we're really happy with, and that's a much better feeling," Van Gundy added. "Having to go get two starters in the offseason, not that you can't do it, but I'm sleeping a little bit better now."
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