DETROIT, Mich. (Detroit Free Press ) -- There's talent here, Stan Van Gundy said.
And that talent, he said during a Thursday afternoon press conference at the Palace of Auburn Hills to introduce him as both Pistons' head coach and president of basketball operations, begins with center Andre Drummond.
But it's the second name Van Gundy brought up that will be his first priority: Greg Monroe.
"I hold Greg Monroe in very high esteem," Van Gundy said, "And he has great, great value."
And just how great of value in dollar signs, the Pistons will have to decide on soon.
Monroe, 24, is a restricted free agent. He is free to negotiate and sign with any team, and the Pistons are free to match an offer he signs with any team.
And Van Gundy said that contract talks with Monroe were ongoing with the ownership group before he came aboard, and that his part in it started Thursday, with a "lengthy" call to Monroe's agent, David Falk.
"I value Greg highly," Van Gundy said. "I think he's one of the elite big men in the league. I think he's got a very high skill level. He can pass the ball, he can score in the low post and I want them to know that, that I value him highly."
Monroe, a four-year veteran, played in every game last season and nearly averaged a double-double, posting 15.2 points per game and 9.3 rebounds.
Van Gundy said he talked with Falk about starting the process with Monroe by sitting down face-to-face and "talking about how he sees himself, how he sees our organization, and giving me a chance to talk to him about my vision for what goes on and how I think we can create a system that will fully maximize his abilities, and then we will go from there."
Where they go from there – signing him, not signing him or signing and trading him – figures to be the first move to piece together a puzzle that hasn't fit properly for five years.
Van Gundy said that he has thought about how to use the Pistons' current roster most effectively and didn't rule out playing big men Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith together, but did hint it probably wouldn't be the normal lineup.
"I don't think there's any doubt that there's going to be situations where you could use those three guys together," he said. "The question is, is that going to be your predominant lineup?"
If it is, Van Gundy said, "I'll just say this. Ideally when you've got good big guys and look, if you take those three guys as a group and count Josh as one of your bigs, I'm not sure there's a better group of three bigs anywhere in the Eastern Conference."
If that group will include Monroe, who hits the market on July 1, remains to be seen.
But Van Gundy isn't ruling the large lineup out.
"We've got to create the kind of lineup that allows those guys to thrive," he said. "Those are three great assets and guys that are among the best big guys in the league."