At 12:01 AM on July 1st Glenn Robinson III and his agent, Jelani Floyd, were busy men. Free agency had begun and many teams across the league called the duo to inquire about Robinson’s services. The first employer Robinson spoke to was the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons and reigning NBA Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey.
“He was the first person I talked to that night,” Robinson told me in an interview with Palace Of Pistons. “That was a big thing that got me signed (in Detroit). Coach Casey called me at 12:01 showing his interest.”
Casey was able to sway Robinson, through his vision as to how Robinson would be featured on the team, as well as Casey’s’ esteemed basketball IQ and résumé of developing young talent.
“His way of coaching and his style of play,” Robinson explained as to what drew him to Casey. “He’s a genuine guy. Players go 110 percent for him. He really understands the game and how to treat his players.”
The decision to join Detroit took time for Robinson, nonetheless. One man he spoke with on the opportunity was his former coach at the University of Michigan, John Beilein, who just so happened to be one of the final candidates for the coaching spot in Detroit before the team decided to go with Casey.
“I talked to Coach Beilein that day before I made the decision when I was trying to narrow it down with teams,” Robinson said. “Coach B is a very smart coach, a very smart guy; he’s like a mentor to me. He’s a guy that I look up to. I gave him a call to see how he felt the organization and how I would fit.”
Robinson knew of the talks Beilein previously had with the Pistons, but that did not derail their conversation.
“I knew that he had got the interview and everything, but we didn’t talk much about that. We talked about my future and how great it would be if I did come back there.”
In what Robinson called a “great experience,” he starred at Michigan from 2012-2014, and under Beilein, advanced all the way to the National Championship in his freshman season. Following his sophomore campaign, Robinson made the jump to the NBA, but his love for Beilein, Michigan, and the school’s fans have never wavered. “Hopefully, I can get a lot of those U of M fans out watching (Detroit Pistons) games,” he said.
After sorting through talks with “most of the league,” Robinson settled on joining the Pistons, a team in desperate need of putting a winning product on the floor after missing the playoffs for consecutive seasons.
He spent the past three years of his career with the Indiana Pacers, where he backed up Paul George before suffering an injury that squandered what could have been a breakout season for the uber-athletic wing. In the 2016-17 season, Robinson was a key cog for the Pacers, averaging 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes per game, while shooting a notable 39.2 percent from the 3-point line.
Robinson’s role was limited in the postseason against the Cavaliers, however. He averaged just 10.3 minutes over three playoff appearances. Cleveland swept Indiana, sending Robinson, along with the rest of the Pacers, home.
Moving forward to the 2017-18 season, Robinson was ready for a larger role on a team that was expected to be lottery bound. Neither came to fruition. Robinson suffered what he called a freak accident, similar to the likes of Gordon Hayward’s injury at the beginning of last season. He missed the first 56 games of the year, and never was able to break out in the way his teammate, Victor Oladipo did, as Indiana claimed the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and shockingly made the playoffs. Robinson appeared in just two playoff games, playing six total minutes, a head-scratching decision by Pacers’ head coach, Nate McMillian.
The chance for a better opportunity, perhaps the greatest of his young career, led him to Detroit.
“Going for that starting spot, that’s what I want, and that’s what I came here for,” Robinson said.
The opportunity to claim the starting spot for Robinson will certainly be available, as Coach Casey promised him.
“He’s mentioned that everyone has the same opportunities right now. I don’t think he has in his mind who his starters are.”
The wing rotation in Detroit is very fluid at this time. Reggie Bullock is coming off a career year and is set to compete with Luke Kennard for the starting spot at shooting guard. Robinson’s real shot will come at small forward, where his main competition will be Stanley Johnson, a player who Casey is enamored by. But Robinson may be the better fit in a lineup that will need to maximize shooting around Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.
Either way, Robinson will have a substantial role this upcoming season and has been working to continuously grow his game to further his impact. He emphasized that outside of routinely working on his jump shot, he has trained hard to develop his ball handling and playmaking capabilities.
@GRIII looking to have a great upcoming season with the @DetroitPistons. @JoeyBurton really can give the players he trains the tools they need. #foxlifevisuals pic.twitter.com/DNe1DlJB4a
— John L Fox V (@FoxLifeVisuals) July 20, 2018
His skill set fits the mold of what has been in demand throughout the NBA now more than ever. He’s a knockdown shooter that shot 39.2 percent from the 3-point line over the last three seasons of his career, can finish at the rim, and defends multiple positions.
Another benefit of joining the Pistons is Robinson’s familiarity with many players on the roster. He’s known Johnson, Reggie Jackson, and Ish Smith for quite some time, and he spent time with Griffin in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, a teammate he is very excited to play with.
With Robinson as the key acquisition for Detroit in the offseason, their roster is likely set for the upcoming year. Pressure from the top of the franchise down has been placed on the Pistons after previous blunders to make the postseason, and everyone inside and outside the organization knows that. Robinson was adamant in declaring the confidence the team has in returning to the playoffs and made it clear that hopes are high for this group.
“We’re excited. We want to win and we want to win now. We’ve got a great group. We’re ready to win now and that’s what we expect. It’s going to be fun,” he said.
The time is now for Tom Gores, Dwane Casey and the Pistons. The Eastern Conference has opened up with the departure of LeBron James, and Detroit will now have Blake Griffin on the roster for a full season. The team is confident in their potential and anxious to re-establish Detroit as the powerhouse they once were.
Aware of the Pistons history and culture, Robinson exclaimed:
“We’re ready to bring that Detroit Basketball back to the city.”
Featured Image: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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