In late June the Detroit Pistons made a welcome pivot when they hired Troy Weaver as their general manager. Transitioning from Stan Van Gundy to Ed Stefanski was the move at the time in 2018, but it should come as no surprise that Stefanski was unequipped for the long-term job of guiding the organization back to relevance.
Stefanski made some real savvy moves in his two-season run, and also a handful of puzzling non-moves. Overall it was a success considering the consternation regarding him taking the reins as de facto general manager following a failed search in 2018, but he was a placeholder until the Pistons could get a premiere executive to take over the general manager role.
Considering the Pistons had no financial flexibility to make significant acquisitions anyway, the time was right for the organization to hold tight until this summer when they would have cap space and a robust list of names to choose from.
Everything came together after they traded Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers, freeing up cap space. The bottom fell out competitively as they lost all but one of their remaining games and propped up their chances for a top draft pick with their 20-46 record as of the NBA season’s coronavirus-induced suspension in mid-March.
The time was right for a new face at the top of the organization, and Troy Weaver is that face. Weaver learned at Sam Presti’s side with the Oklahoma City Thunder for more than a decade, and there would be much worse franchises for the Detroit Pistons to emulate.
Weaver has been active in these early days of his administration in Midtown Detroit. We’ll take a look at three primary observations regarding what’s been done and what lies ahead.
There’s Finally A Clear Plan
This clear plan isn’t necessarily known to anybody outside of Troy Weaver’s circle, but for the first time since Stan Van Gundy threw $41 million at Jon Leuer in the hopes he could be Kevin Love-Lite, a plan actually exists.
For the last few seasons, the Pistons have been so constrained by the sins of the Van Gundy administration that all they could do was make peripheral moves around the margins, with the exception of trading Andre Drummond for peanuts (all due respect to Jon Henson and Brandon Knight, who played very well in Detroit after the trade). There was no real strategy for talent acquisition because there was no mechanism like cap space or draft picks in order to make things happen.
This offseason, the Pistons will have both tools at their disposal, and Weaver’s plan can take shape.
Front Office Reboot
As Weaver looks to remake the team in his image, he’s starting with the front office (although his first move was to sign Justin Patton in the NBA’s transaction window).
The last holdover from the Van Gundy administration, Pat Garrity is out as assistant general manager. In his place, Weaver hired David Mincberg away from the Milwaukee Bucks, a respected executive with ties to Ed Stefanski when both were with the Memphis Grizzlies.
According to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press, the Pistons are expected to make at least two more front office hires.
Will Anything Be Sacred?
In years past, it’s been fair to wonder if some parts of the Detroit Pistons roster was untouchable. Until early January when the Pistons were clearly not a playoff-caliber team and owner Tom Gores gave the begrudging green light to consider a rebuild, it’s been clearly true.
When they traded Drummond, we moved into an era where perhaps nothing truly sacred remains. Derrick Rose might be the closest thing to untouchable they have on the roster (Blake Griffin too, but that’s for a different reason thanks to his still-gargantuan contract), but for the right price he could be had by a prospective suitor.
We’re in a new era where there shouldn’t be any players held onto via ownership intervention or similar forces, and that’s a necessary development. Hopefully Weaver will be given full autonomy (or at least as close to full as any top exec gets from his owners) to maneuver as he sees fit.
The Detroit Pistons have an acclaimed front office exec at the top of the organizational chart for the first time since Joe Dumars was leading them to an Eastern Conference dynasty in the 2000s, so it’s time to see if he’s up to the challenging task at hand. No interference from above, no intervention from outside.
It’s the least ownership can do for this team and its fans.