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Pistons looking for president of basketball operations after worst season in franchise history

In Sports
April 16, 2024
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 30: From left, Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver laughs while listening to owner Tom Gores during the press conference on July 30, 2021 at the Pistons Performance Center in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Following the worst season in franchise history, the Detroit Pistons have to make some changes.

Moving on from general manager Troy Weaver or even head coach Monty Williams would appear to be under heavy consideration for team owner Tom Gores. However, Gores apparently intends to keep both for next season, albeit with new oversight.

The Pistons announced Monday night that they will hire a new president of basketball operations to work over Weaver in the front office, confirming multiple earlier reports. Such a move had been in the works, according to several reports. The Pistons also confirmed that Weaver and the team’s basketball staff will retain their positions “while the organization assesses where adjustments are needed.”

“This past season has been incredibly difficult and frustrating for our fans, players and our entire organization,” Gores said, via the team announcement. “We will continue to invest in our core group of young players and surround them with the right complimentary talent.”

Gores hinted at the possibility in December while meeting with selected reporters amid a 25-game losing streak that eventually became an NBA record-tying 28-game skid.

“Change is coming, I’m just saying in terms of Monty, Troy, all of that stuff, there will be a place,” said Gores, who purchased the Pistons in 2011. “But I’m all over them, and they’ll tell you that too.”

“There’s a lot of accountability that has to be held,” he added. “There might be additions to staff, but what’s for sure is change is coming. We are not right, right now. We have to either add, delete. We’ll be on it, and we are on it already. We will make changes. We will make them.”

Prospective candidates for the team president position include Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst, who was previously in the Pistons organization. Other possibilities include Horst’s predecessor, John Hammond (who also worked in Detroit), former Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and former Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, who currently works in the front office, according to The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III.

Despite outrage from local fans and media over how far a championship franchise had fallen, Gores hasn’t seemed eager to make changes.

Weaver, hired in 2020 from the Oklahoma City Thunder front office, had been tasked with ridding the organization of players with cumbersome contracts like Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard. The Pistons go into the offseason with a projected $61 million in salary-cap space, so if that was a main objective for Gores, Weaver achieved it.

An area in which Weaver has arguably succeeded is accumulating young talent, due in large part to high draft picks in recent years. The team has a young core of guards Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, centers Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart, and forward Ausar Thompson. However, Detroit won only 14 games with those players. Due to poor shooting and defense, they don’t appear to fit well together on the floor. A president of basketball ops should help Weaver move some pieces to form a more cohesive lineup.

Failure to get those pieces to mesh also reflects poorly on Williams, who originally planned to take a year off after being fired by the Phoenix Suns before Gores offered to make him the highest-paid coach in the NBA. Williams was signed to a five-year, $87.5 million contract and as Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer recently reported, the coach isn’t interested in a buyout.

If Williams returns as expected, the belief is that he’ll look like a better coach with a better roster. But he also made some baffling decisions during the season such as keeping Ivey on the bench in favor of Killian Hayes — who was waived in February — and struggling to figure out how to play Ivey and Cunningham together.

A new team president could bring a fresh perspective that Gores lacks and decide to replace either Weaver or Williams — or both. Or a condition of being hired might be to give the general manager and head coach one more season to redeem themselves. How seriously the Pistons approach a turnaround should become apparent in the weeks leading up to June’s NBA Draft.

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