The Detroit Pistons are running out of time in their attempt to build a contender for the National Basketball Assn. championship, center Bill Laimbeer said.
The Pistons finished 13 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks in the Central Division last season with a 46-36 record. Detroit knocked off New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Boston Celtics in an emotional six-game series.
“It was a lost opportunity. We don’t have very many of those left,” Laimbeer said. “We’ve only got two or three years with this team together. So we’re going to have to give it our best shot.”
The Pistons made progress in the off-season by addressing their inconsistencies on defense. In the past, Detroit had problems with opposing players penetrating the middle. Thus, an enforcer was needed to prevent the easy basket and provide added rebounding strength.
Enter Rick Mahorn.
The 6-10, 260-pound Mahorn was traded to the Pistons from the Washington Bullets along with forward Mike Gibson for forward Dan Roundfield, a victim of injuries and big expectations in his only season with Detroit.
“We needed size, there’s no doubt about that,” Laimbeer said. “Last year, we saw that bigger players were taking advantage of us. Mahorn’s going to come in there and his sheer size is going to help, it’s going to keep people away from the basket.
"(Boston’s) Kevin McHale was going in there doing whatever he wanted to. He’s not going to be able to do that against Mahorn.”
Mahorn averaged nine points and 8.2 rebounds per game in five seasons with the Bullets.
Also new to the Pistons this year is Spencer Haywood, who came out of retirement and signed a contract this week. The 6-8, 225-pound Haywood is attempting a comeback after retiring in 1983 following 13 NBA seasons.
The Pistons will start the exhibition season without holdout forward Terry Tyler, while guard John Long, who sat out the 1984 exhibition and the first 16 games of the regular season in a contract dispute, recently signed a new contract.