AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — For much of last season, the most interesting reason to watch the Detroit Pistons may have been to see which musical act was playing at halftime.
Then, after a 4-20 start, coach Lawrence Frank's group began to click a bit. Detroit was a .500 team the rest of the way, beating teams such as Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers and offering a bit of hope for the future.
"I love the direction we're heading," Frank said. "This at times is going to be a tugboat. It may not be a speedboat in terms of progress. ... It's not going to be a quick-fix approach."
There's still work to be done in this rebuilding project, but new owner Tom Gores has overseen an effort to improve the entertainment experience at home games. Now, he's hoping the Pistons — behind young big man Greg Monroe and guard Brandon Knight — are ready to make a push for the playoffs.
The Pistons were probably hurt more than most teams by the lockout before last season. Frank had just been hired as coach, and there wasn't much time for him and the players to work together before Detroit was playing — and losing — quite a few games early on.
But the organization was doing its best to reach out to fans, scheduling a number of halftime shows that would include performers such as Vanilla Ice, Gladys Knight and Bell Biv DeVoe. By the end of the season, it became almost the norm for some familiar name to show up and entertain at Pistons games.
Meanwhile, Detroit won seven of nine games during one February stretch. The Pistons finished 25-41 — an indication that the worst may be behind them.
In the offseason, Detroit continued to build, drafting Andre Drummond in the first round to help the interior defense. The Pistons also traded Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft choice to the Charlotte Bobcats for swingman Corey Maggette, shedding about $15 million in salary.