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Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose still part of Pistons' plans, new GM says

A fresh chapter in Detroit Pistons franchise history is set to be written next season, but new general manager Troy Weaver still sees veteran stars Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose as part of the "plans going forward."

Griffin, 31, is coming off left knee surgery after playing in just 18 games this season.

"I'm excited about having the chance to work with Blake," Weaver, a longtime Oklahoma City Thunder executive, said Monday at his introductory news conference. "Obviously, being in Oklahoma City for the last 12 years, I remember Blake quite well, playing at OU and his family being around there, being from Oklahoma City. So, I'm very familiar with Blake.

"I joked with him when I spoke with him that I finally get to work with him. We didn't get the luck of the draw to get the No. 1 pick when he came out like other home teams get the luck of the draw -- we didn't get it, so I tease him about that.

"I know he's anxious to get back and show people what kind of player he is after just playing a few games last year, but as long as Blake is in a Pistons uniform and under contract, I look forward to working with him in helping us restore the Pistons. He's definitely in our plans going forward."

Griffin is due $36.6 million in 2020-21, and owns a player option for 2021-22 that, if exercised, will pay him $38.9 million.

Similar to Griffin, Weaver described Rose as a "big time" player looking to restore his career after a history of injuries.

Rose, 31, has been plagued by knee and ankle injuries throughout his 12 years in the league, but was enjoying a resurgent season with the Pistons in 2019-20, averaging 18.1 points and 5.6 assists off the bench as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. He became the first player in franchise history to record seven consecutive games of 20 or more points as a reserve.

"We're excited to get them healthy and help them move forward," Weaver said of the two veteran All-Stars. "We feel like we have a good mixture of young guys with those two staples to be able to start there, but obviously we've got a lot of work to do with the draft and free agency."

Summer has officially begun for the Pistons, who are one of the eight teams eliminated by the NBA's 22-team proposal for its Orlando restart.

Detroit (20-46) is one of two teams that have not won a playoff game since the 2008-09 season, along with the Sacramento Kings, but Weaver said he's committed to restoring a winning culture. From 2002 to 2008, the Pistons won at least one playoff series each season, but they have now gone 12 straight seasons without winning a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. They've made the playoffs three times in that span, but were swept each time, most recently in 2019 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"The Motor City deserves a consistent winner back on the floor," Weaver said.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey also said he's happy that team owner Tom Gores selected an African American candidate in Weaver, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and the push for diversity in front offices.

Weaver, 52, is now the ninth Black GM in the league.

"I'll always recognize Troy as one of the top talent evaluators in the league," Casey said. "You can just look at the finished products of OKC. He had a big part of doing that, but not only that, he's a man of his word. He's genuine, he's real and I'm going to say this ... in today's time, with all the unrest, and there's an opportunity for an African-American man to be named to this position. ... It's going to make my heart proud to work next to Troy, with Troy, and like he said, to polish off not to build but to restore our organization."

Gores did reiterate that although diversity was important, Weaver was selected because the franchise truly felt he was the man for the job. Prior to Detroit, Weaver spent 12 seasons in OKC, most recently as vice president of basketball operations. He also served as a head scout and director of player personnel for the Utah Jazz.

"As a team, we always want to cultivate diversity at the end of the day, and we did speak about it. We said, 'Look, the most important thing was to make sure we evaluated everybody and even anybody who hadn't gotten our attention.' ... Troy had gotten our attention a couple years ago," Gores said.

"He's the best man for the job. ... His track record, his reputation -- everything stood out, and I think it's a great win for the African American community and Black community that Troy comes in as a leader; I think it's a great win."