Tom Gores Rumors
“I needed a challenge,” Tellem said Sunday afternoon. “I needed a personal challenge. And I need to live with a purpose in my life. To me, this gave me a greater purpose.” And so Tellem, after weeks of anguish and thought — “I’m an emotional basket case right now,” he said — pulled the trigger last week, and accepted Pistons’ owner Tom Gores’ offer to become Vice Chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment.
“The primary part of his job’s gonna be in doing things for the financial welfare of the organization and expanding business and again, that all comes down to negotiating things, too, whether it’s TV contract or whatever,” Van Gundy said. “I think you’ve got a guy who understands the business of sports – particularly our league – so that has to have great value to us.”
Tellem will be charged with big picture issues – negotiating future TV contracts, assisting PS&E and Pistons owner Tom Gores in exploring ways to grow business interests in the area and other responsibilities. But Tellem brings more than 30 years of contacts in the NBA and Van Gundy can see a scenario where a former client calls Tellem to get an opinion on the Pistons organization. And Van Gundy will take that help. “I would think they’d have great trust in him,” Van Gundy told the Free Press. “It’s certainly an advantage. There’s no question about that.”
“The decision to change careers was in one sense a difficult one, because I am leaving a terrific job with great clients and an outstanding leader in Casey Wasserman, who I believe runs the finest sports marketing and talent company in the business,” Tellem said. “But in another sense it was an easy decision, because I am joining another great organization with an outstanding leader in Tom Gores, who is committed to ensuring Palace Sports & Entertainment is a championship organization both on the court and in the community.”
Tellem, 61, will report directly to PS&E and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and will be expected to spearhead Palace business strategies as the ownership group enters its fifth year. “Arn is one of the most accomplished and respected sports executives in the world,” Gores said. “He has great passion, integrity and honesty, and he shares my belief that sports can be a catalyst for change in the community. He is an outstanding addition to our leadership team who will help us make a real difference in Detroit.”
One moment Greg Monroe was talking about Pistons owner Tom Gores. The next, the soon-to-be free-agent forward was talking about possibly staying with the Pistons. “I don’t know why people have the notion or the thought that I am just out of here already, like it is one foot out the door,” said Monroe, 24. “At the end of the day, I am going to do what any free agent would do. I will listen to everybody and assess it.”
David Mayo: Tom Gores said at halftime that #Pistons center Andre Drummond “is a max player.” Expect team to tender max extension this summer.
Tom Gores, who lives in Los Angeles, was asked at halftime whether he was OK with the moves. He said he was. “The thing is, Stan has a plan,” Gores said. “The guys we lost at the All-Star break, it was hard to lose them. They were part of the culture. But we’re trying to build for the future now and we believe in everything that’s going on.”
Van Gundy, who communicates frequently with Gores, said before the game that he knows that Gores doesn’t like how the season has unfolded. “I think he’s disappointed, quite honestly,” Van Gundy said. “We were right there at the break, feeling like we had a chance. I think he’s probably as disappointed and as frustrated as we are, but still very supportive and on board. Tom’s got a lot of resolve, he’s a resolute guy, he doesn’t give in easily. He’d be the perfect guy to coach, quite honestly.”
Gores said Van Gundy has created a culture in his first season running the Pistons. Platinum Equity partner and team official Bob Wentworth added: “This is a long-term build, beyond this year. We’d love to make the playoffs, but this is about building a championship team over the next several years.”
Gores said he gave Smith the golden parachute because he believes in his coach. “Even before Stan came on, we talked about the future and building the future,” Gores said. “Stan didn’t just call me one day and say, ‘This is what we have to do.’ We had been talking for a few months about how we were going to get this team into the future. “Josh is a great talent but we had so many other great talents on the team that we really needed the ball being in more hands. So as much as a lot of people think this decision was made overnight, really it was made over a good month and a half. “We weren’t delivering. We weren’t winning. It was a process.”
Gores said Wednesday the poor start never made him wonder if he had put the future of his franchise in the hands of the wrong man after giving Van Gundy $35 million over five years to serve as the Pistons’ head coach and team president. “Never,” Gores said at halftime of the Pistons’ 128-118 victory over Orlando at The Palace. “Never. You got that on the record? Never. We have an amazing guy. I’m so, so proud that we got him here to Detroit. “There was no trepidation at all.”
“I think it’s interesting how intangibles come into play,” Gores said. “Our young guys are getting more minutes. We did get Meeks back and that’s something you can’t ignore, Having Jodie, first of all, he has great energy. Even if he doesn’t have a great game he helps the team. He helps KCP (second-year shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope). “Meeks has been a big part of us coming back. And, really, letting Stan run the system he wants. Having Josh and Monroe, It just wasn’t working. There just wasn’t enough room.”
“Stan and I, fortunately for both of us, we’ve had such a great chemistry and communication with each other since he’s come on board, really from our first meeting,” Gores said. “Stan is a very thorough guy … for me, what was comfortable was knowing Stan is such a good coach, and with him, if we’re 5-23, which we were, something’s not right. “It’s not just making a rotation change. I know he was working as hard as possible … it was very collaborative with each other, like I would do with a CEO. I really challenged Stan to think creatively.”
But despite the worst start of his four-year stewardship, he remains confident in Van Gandy, who was given a five-year, $35-million contract in May to resurrect the franchise. The Pistons have a six-year streak of not making the playoffs — the longest in the Eastern Conference. “I’m very, very confident about that, and you guys know me well enough to know that if I wasn’t confident, I’d give you signals that I wasn’t,” Gores said. “I’m very confident that he’s doing everything possible. He’s losing more sleep than any of us here to get us the progress we need.”
Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy has promised to take a hard look at the roster and rotation during next week’s Christmas break. And owner Tom Gores, who has said several times in the past that he thinks the roster has good players, didn’t disagree with his first-year executive. “We’ve got to reassess what we’re doing, and that’s one thing great about Stan: He’s not sitting around saying, ‘Hey, we’re just going to stick to the game plan.’ He’s changing things up,” Gores said. “You’ve seen, he’s got a different starting lineup at times. He reassesses things every single minute. So we’re just trying to make progress.”
Gores conceded: “Business is not always fun. Being successful is not always fun.” But he added, “Stan has made me a better owner.” He said they exchange text messages daily, meet frequently in person and talk on the phone when they can. “We should be at the forefront,” Gores said of his franchise. “We have a history. We have a legacy.”
Just before that, the big TV showed a clip from a press conference when Van Gundy was introduced by owner Tom Gores. “This is the defining moment,” Gores said on video. “We are re-setting the culture of the franchise.” A half-hour before, in addressing the media, Gores had said similar things. “I’m happy with the culture,” Gores said. “It’s being re-set here.”
The most expensive, eye-popping and perhaps impressive of all renovations done to The Palace under owner Tom Gores awaits Detroit Pistons fans Saturday night. A new state-of-the-art scoreboard hangs in the middle of the arena and although it’s been in use during the preseason, Saturday’s home opener against the Brooklyn Nets is when many fans will get their first glimpse of the latest renovation to the building. Calling it a scoreboard is actually a huge understatement. “People hear about it, ‘Yeah, yeah you’ve got a scoreboard,” said Dennis Mannion, president of Palace Sports & Entertainment. “Then they walk into the seating bowl and the usual expression is ‘Oh my. Wow. Oh my.’ They’re overwhelmed.
Stan Van Gundy: So you’re talking to all of these guys, and you realize it’s a pretty rare situation in this league, to have a front office and a coaching staff that are truly aligned. Obviously, if you ask any of them, they all say they are. But when you talk to coaches, you realize it’s a pretty rare situation. I knew I didn’t want to go back to being in one of those situations. I didn’t know what would happen. But that was the thing that appealed to me about the [Pistons] job as it was. Number one, that’s what Tom Gores was looking for — as he called it, at the very first meeting, he wanted more synergy between the front office and the playing court. That was music to my ears. People asked me, did you want control? It had nothing to do with that. I wanted the same thing he wanted. This is a pretty good model to get that, at least. I think because of the setup, we’ve got 40 people in basketball operations, and everybody is in the same direction.
Playoff declarations or statements that foreshadow coaching dismissals 50 games into a season are certainly on his docket. As he strolled confidently into Pistons’ Media Day Monday, he wouldn’t dip a toe into those waters. “Bold (predictions)?” asked Gores rhetorically. “When Stan and I met, the thing we agreed on was trying to win now and not sacrificing the future. We haven’t won in a long time.”
The most important player this offseason was Greg Monroe, who couldn’t come to terms with the Pistons on a deal this summer, preferring to sign a one-year qualifying offer that will make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. “Greg’s a great player, not just a good player,” Gores said. “We want Greg to be on board for a long time. We’ll have a good enough season where we’ll attempt to do that. “We talked to his representatives. We said how much we respected Greg as a person. But ultimately it’s Greg’s choice. We were disappointed we couldn’t make the ultimate deal, of course. Just because we didn’t make the deal isn’t the end all.”
Q: There’s a pretty substantial offer on the table (slightly better on a per-year basis than the four-year, $54-million deal Josh Smith signed last summer). Is there any disappointment that it hasn’t resolved itself and he hasn’t taken the offer yet? A: “Of course we would like him to do that, but the fact is Greg has to decide what’s exactly right for him and he has great people representing him. We’d like Greg to get on board, but he’s got time to think about it and we should give him that time.”
Question: The No. 1 topic that has dominated the entire off-season has been Greg Monroe. What are your thoughts on the contract impasse? (Monroe is a restricted free agent.) Answer: “We think Greg is a great player. First of all, he’s done a really great job of establishing himself as a player in Detroit. He’s shown great respect to the city and as a young man he’s really done everything we could ask of him. “With Greg we just believe in him. I’d like Greg to really get excited about being in Detroit because he deserves it. He’s really been good to the city. You’ve seen him. He’s good to the city. Stan is going to have to figure out exactly everybody’s role, but we’re believers in Greg Monroe. He’s not just a great player; he also has a good basketball character. I know it’s been a lot of the off-season stuff, but I’m a believer in Greg Monroe.”
During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Tuesday, Magic Johnson revealed Pistons owner Tom Gores asked him to be of his ownership group. Johnson said he declined. Johnson also noted he’s been asked to be part of NBA ownership groups, including Golden State.
The Warriors would make him one of the higher paid coaches in the NBA, but Detroit owner Tom Gores is willing to do “whatever it takes,” one source said, to recruit Van Gundy.