AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Spencer Dinwiddie’s knee surgery did not scare off the Detroit Pistons.
Detroit drafted the Colorado guard with the No. 38 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night, feeling comfortable with his ability to bounce back and play eventually.
The Pistons have a former Buffalo great, guard Chauncey Billups, on their roster and he helped them win the NBA title a decade ago.
“I think that’s a great path to follow,” Dinwiddie said. “He’s the best player in my school’s history and I would want to be like him one day.”
Dinwiddie’s college career ended when he tore his left ACL during a Jan. 12 game and needed reconstructive surgery.
“Our medical team dug deep into that,” Pistons general manager Jeff Bower said. “We had all his records.”
Dinwiddie, a Los Angeles native, previously said he expects to be back on the court by August, but he backed off that prediction on the advice of his new team.
“We won’t put a timeframe on it,” Bower said. “We’ll move with it cautiously and slowly. We look at this as a long-term plan.”
The Pistons went into the night without a first-round slot, giving up the No. 9 pick to Charlotte to complete a previous salary-cap saving trade for Ben Gordon. First-year executive and coach Stan Van Gundy said earlier in the week he would be willing to move back into the first round if a team with one of the last picks would be willing to give it up for a future second-rounder and cash. That potential trade did not happen and the Pistons went with Dinwiddie early in the second round.
Dinwiddie’s specialty, according to Bower, is passing. He averaged 14.7 points and 3.8 assists last season as a junior.
“His instincts are of a point guard, but he does have the size and flexibility to do a lot of things,” Bower said.
Dinwiddie can shoot, too, connecting on 39 percent of his 3-pointers over his career.
“I view myself as a pure (point guard) but at the same time, I think I bring defensive versatility with my size and shooting as well,” he said. “I expect to play multiple positions in the league.”
If the 6-foot-6 Dinwiddie can stay healthy, he will have a shot to play a lot in Van Gundy’s first season of leading the team on the sideline and from the front office. Van Gundy was hired to replace president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and to succeed interim coach John Loyer.
The Pistons fired coach Maurice Cheeks past the midway mark last season with a 21-29 record and they finished 29-53, missing out on the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
They hope to surround 20-year-old center Andre Drummond, entering the third year of his career, with enough talent to win consistently for a change next season. Drummond’s supporting cast will likely include forward Josh Smith, who signed a $54 million, four-year contract last year, and point guard Brandon Jennings, entering the second year of his $24 million, three-year deal. Van Gundy spoke highly of small forward Kyle Singler and power forward Jonas Jerebko, players who probably will be in his rotation.
Detroit does not know if power forward Greg Monroe will be back because he is a restricted free agent.
Last year, the Pistons drafted Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope No. 8 overall and passed over Michigan star Trey Burke, who played well as a rookie for the Utah Jazz. Caldwell-Pope capped a shaky season with 30 points in the last game of the regular season at Oklahoma City. He had not scored more than 17 in a game before that breakout performance and he averaged just 5.9 points.
When free agency begins next week, the Pistons plan to invest $13-plus million on three or four players in the hopes of addressing multiple needs.
Connect with Larry Lage at www.Twitter.com/larrylage