AUBURN HILLS – A few highlights and takeaways from Monday’s introduction of Langston Galloway and Eric Moreland to the Pistons and on Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower’s comments afterward:
The Pistons didn’t decide to move on from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope until Boston offered Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris. So it wasn’t the motivation to sign Galloway to a reported three-year, $21 million deal on the first day of free agency – the expectation at that point, or the hope, at least, was still to come to terms with Caldwell-Pope at a reasonable price.
But the deal they struck with Galloway is clearly more money than any team would offer a No. 3 point guard – and Galloway is clearly not that. It wasn’t exactly a signing done independently of the Caldwell-Pope situation, but Galloway is a guy the Pistons liked in a vacuum. If they were starting a team from scratch, he’d have been on their list.
“Langston Galloway has been a guy that Jeff and I have had an interest in virtually from the time we have gotten here,” Van Gundy said. “We were really excited to get a guy who can play both spots.”
So Galloway was signed as insurance in the event that Caldwell-Pope left but also in the event that Reggie Jackson doesn’t regain his overdrive gear. The full expectation is that he will. He’s been given an absolute clean bill of health. Psychologically, he’ll be in a much better place than he was last season when he doesn’t start a 100-yard sprint by spotting the field 25 yards and feeling like the team’s subsequent struggles bore his fingerprints.
If you want to know the biggest key to a rebound 2017-18 year for the Pistons, it’s getting 2015-16 Reggie Jackson back.
But Galloway’s going to play and Bradley is going to get all the minutes he can handle. Those two guards – both with point guard experience, both nearly 40 percent and high-volume 3-point shooters, both accomplished defenders – are going to allow Van Gundy to expand his playbook next season.
Even if Jackson is 100 percent from day one, the fact Bradley and Galloway are comfortable putting the ball on the deck for more than a dribble or two should relieve the burden on Jackson to make something happen on every possession.
Stanley Johnson’s going to get every opportunity to stake out a major role – Van Gundy made that much clear. He hated losing Marcus Morris – “in this job, it’s the hardest one I’ve had by far,” Van Gundy said, calling Morris one of his all-time favorites – but needed to restore a little more frontcourt-backcourt balance.
The Pistons needed guards, so that’s why Johnson spent the great majority of his time last season at shooting guard. But, truth is, he’s probably better suited to playing power forward than shooting guard, at least at the offensive end. Defensively, Van Gundy is comfortable playing Johnson at all three spots.
“A key piece of this for us – not the biggest piece, but a key piece – is we need to get more out of Stanley,” Van Gundy said. “We were disappointed in his year last year, but in fairness I think we played him out of position a lot. We get a guy like Avery, we bring in Langston, we draft Luke (Kennard) – we really like our backcourt to go with Reggie and Ish and we move Stanley into a position to fight for minutes at the three and maybe even in smaller minutes at the four where I think he has a great chance to be successful.”
Eric Moreland exceeded the high end of expectations in Orlando – Bower has long liked Moreland, trying to bring him to camp two years ago. The Pistons brought him to their free agent minicamp in June and made him a priority to bring to Summer League. They were going to use those 10 days in Orlando to make a judgment on whether to offer Moreland one of the two “two-way” contracts new to the NBA next season.
“And then we brought him down to Summer League and he played himself way past that,” Van Gundy said. “He brings tremendous energy and athleticism to the table, defends and rebounds, went to Orlando and – it’s pretty hard to do – you talk about a guy protecting the basket and he led (Summer League) in blocked shots and led the league in taking charges. A lot of times you’ll get one or the other with a big guy; he has the ability to do both. The thing I didn’t know about Eric until we got down there is he is an outstanding passer for a big guy and we need a lot more of that.”
Guys go to Orlando and Las Vegas hoping maybe to get an invitation to training camp with a smidgen of guaranteed money involved – and dream about playing so well in Summer League somebody gives them a contract with a guaranteed roster spot. You can probably count on one hand the number of times that scenario plays out each summer. Moreland made it happen.
We’ll have a bunch more on Moreland and Galloway – and Bradley – over the next few days on Pistons.com.