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The Pistons are in a youth movement, but that doesn’t mean they’re just going to send all their veterans packing. Weaver hinted at his season-ending press conference that there wouldn’t be much movement with free agents, as they valued their experience and contributions this year. “I don't anticipate having too many roster spots available. We like our group and we're excited about guys under contract and even our own free agents,” Weaver said. “I don't anticipate much turnover at all. I would say maybe one or two additions from the outside, but the answers for the Pistons moving forward are all in-house.”
With five rookies on the 15-man roster and eight players 23 or younger, Gores knows that being competitive and having that translate to immediate success might not be possible. But he’s invested in watching the progress of the team and asks the same of Pistons fans. “We require a little bit of patience,” he said. “It was difficult, but it was the right thing to do and I like what Troy’s doing in jump starting it reasonably fast with all these young folks. It’s not about me. It’s about getting to the end road we all want to get to.”
Then came June, when Weaver, who started with zero connections on perhaps the bottom rung of the basketball career ladder ascended to the top when the Detroit Pistons hired him as their general manager. He’s believed to be the first former AAU guy to hold such a job. “I love a good story. I love start-ups,” Pistons owner Tom Gores told Yahoo Sports. Gores, as a child, immigrated with his family from Lebanon to outside Flint, Michigan, where he worked his way into a self-made billionaire. “The story isn’t why we hired Troy though,” Gores said. “Troy’s ability to evaluate talent was the No. 1 reason. He is concise in how he sees talent. He sees it on a micro-level. I’ve met a lot of executives who know basketball. Troy is just on a whole different level.”
Jason Buckner, who has served eight years as manager of scouting for the Indiana Pacers, has joined the Detroit Pistons as their director of draft scouting, league sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell IndyStar. Buckner, who also served in a dual role as regional scout the last three years and has an expertise in getting background on prospects, had already left the Pacers before the firing of coach Nate McMillan in late August.
Tony Leotti is the new senior director of strategy and systems and will assist with overseeing the salary cap as well as strategy. Leotti had been with the Cleveland Cavaliers for four seasons in a joint role as director of basketball administration and team counsel. Leotti also worked with the NBA league office as associate vice president and senior associate counsel. Two new pro personnel evaluators are Harold Ellis and Ryan West. Ellis previously was a Pistons assistant coach from 2008-09 and a scout from 2009-12. Since then, he’s worked as a director of pro scouting with the Orlando Magic and director of player personnel with the New York Knicks.
Marc J. Spears: The Pistons announce the additions of Britta Brown, Senior Director of Basketball Administration, Tony Leotti, Senior Director of Strategy and Systems, Harold Ellis and Ryan West, Pro Personnel Evaluators, and Michael Lindo, Director of Player and Family Engagement.
The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has named David Mincberg as assistant general manager. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Mincberg comes to Detroit from Milwaukee where he spent three seasons with the Bucks, including this past season as Vice President of Basketball Strategy.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Detroit Pistons assistant GM Pat Garrity will be departing the organization, sources tell ESPN. His contract was expiring and new GM Troy Weaver is starting to reshape the front office.
The Thunder have been in this position before. For the fourth time in their 12 seasons, the Thunder have lost an assistant general manager to another team. It’s a testament to the sharp minds general manager Sam Presti has surrounded himself with in Oklahoma City. This time is a little different. Troy Weaver was different, from his eye for talent (documented by The Athletic’s James Edwards III) to his truth-telling style, from his storytelling to his trash-talking.
Weaver — the Thunder’s vice president of basketball operations for the last seven seasons — bridged the gap between executive and player better than any high-ranking front-office member in the Thunder’s history. It’s why so many players who’ve come through Oklahoma City were overjoyed when Weaver was named the general manager of the Detroit Pistons on June 18. When Thunder guard Chris Paul picked up his phone and saw Weaver was hired in Detroit, he called and congratulated him. Even before Weaver was hired — when there were reports Weaver was in the running for the Detroit GM job — Paul called then, too.
To wit: Weaver was the only candidate to interview with the Pistons’ owner, Tom Gores, according to a person familiar with the search who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. Beyond maximizing the Pistons’ forthcoming high draft pick and some newfound financial flexibility after the February moves to jettison Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, Weaver’s immediate challenges include learning his new terrain and meshing with the various voices in Detroit after spending the last 12 seasons in Oklahoma City. Gores leans heavily on Arn Tellem, the longtime power agent who serves as Detroit’s chairman, and Ed Stefanski, who will remain with the Pistons in his position as a senior adviser to Gores.
To wit: Weaver was the only candidate to interview with the Pistons’ owner, Tom Gores, according to a person familiar with the search who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. Beyond maximizing the Pistons’ forthcoming high draft pick and some newfound financial flexibility after the February moves to jettison Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, Weaver’s immediate challenges include learning his new terrain and meshing with the various voices in Detroit after spending the last 12 seasons in Oklahoma City. Gores leans heavily on Arn Tellem, the longtime power agent who serves as Detroit’s chairman, and Ed Stefanski, who will remain with the Pistons in his position as a senior adviser to Gores.
Although team owner Tom Gores and Stefanski have conceded that the Pistons are beginning a rebuild, Weaver isn’t so quick to use that term. “This isn’t a rebuild — it’s a restoring. There’s been greatness here,” Weaver said Monday in his virtual introductory press conference. “The Motor City deserves a consistent winner back on the floor.”
“You have two veteran big-time players that are looking to restore their careers: Blake Griffin, who is a perennial All-Star, and Derrick Rose. Both guys have had some injury history and they’re looking forward to building their careers back,” Weaver said. “That stood out and we’re excited to get them healthy and help us moving forward. “The second piece is the young players on the roster: Sekou (Doumbouya), (Luke) Kennard, Bruce Brown and Svi (Mykhailiuk) and (Christian) Wood. We feel like we have a good mixture of young guys with those two staples to start there.”
Weaver, Gores, Casey, Stefanski and Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem were all on the video conference Monday. “I always recognized Troy as one of the top talent evaluators – you just look at the finished products in OKC, he had a big part of doing that. Not only that, he’s a man of his word,” Casey said. “He’s genuine, he’s real, and I will say this, and in today’s time, with all the unrest, here’s an opportunity for an African American man to be named to this position, and I’m going to credit Tom and Arn and Ed for opening up the door for the opportunity for him to step in.”
Eric Woodyard: Pistons Owner Tom Gores on hiring new GM Troy Weaver: "We just felt it was time to go big or go home." Gores said they tried to talk with him a few years ago, too, but OKC wasn't ready to let him go.
Rod Beard: #Pistons Gores: "He's the GM, no doubt about it; he's in charge of a lot of decisions ... he has a great grasp of our basketball team and the roster, but I like his leadership."
Rod Beard: #Pistons coach Dwane Casey on new GM Troy Weaver: "We're rebuilding our roster and Troy brings a tremendous amount of experience. He's one of those guys who has a knack for talent ... the next couple of years of developing our roster is a key team in our organization." via @NBATV
Nets director of player personnel J.R. Holden and Warriors assistant GM Mike Dunleavy are among the executives on the Pistons' radar as they look to add to their front office, per SNY sources. Holden had a remarkable Euroleague playing career and worked for both the 76ers and Pistons in scouting roles before Nets GM Sean Marks added him as director of player personnel last year.
Dunleavy Jr., a 15-year NBA veteran, started scouting with Golden State in 2018 and was promoted to assistant general manager last season. Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver are among the top candidates for the Pistons' opening, SNY sources confirm.
James Edwards III: I'm told that the #Pistons' plan is still to hire a GM first and then allow that person to fill out his team. Unless things fall through, expect assistant GMs to be named after GM is hired.
Marc Stein: Longtime Thunder executive Troy Weaver has emerged as the top choice in Detroit's search for a new GM, @NYTSports has learned, with the Pistons actively working to complete a deal to hire Weaver
Marc Stein: Longtime Thunder executive Troy Weaver has emerged as the top choice in Detroit's search for a new GM, @NYTSports has learned, with the Pistons actively working to complete a deal to hire Weaver
The organization would also welcome a reunion with Chauncey Billups, who has maintained that he is interested in being hired only as general manager, according to a source. The Pistons would prefer to hire Billups, who has no NBA executive experience, as an assistant, where he could learn the ins and outs of working in a front office.
After hiring a general manager, the front office will begin its search for an assistant. The goal is to find someone light on experience who could eventually grow into a larger role within the organization. The timing of the decision to fill one or both positions shows that the organization is committing to change. Per a source, the team is prioritizing diversity in both searches. Former Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who is currently the vice president of basketball affairs for the Memphis Grizzlies, is a candidate for the assistant GM job.
The Pistons are in the market for their first general manager since 2018, but it remains to be seen if the role will be filled for the 2020-21 season. Sources told The Athletic that while the team’s focus is on hiring for that job, Detroit could consider hiring multiple assistant general managers instead. The timing of the hires and what roles will be filled will be dependent upon how the search pans out, per a source. Assistant GM Malik Rose left the team earlier this week for a role with the NBA.
Among those who could be on the consider list for the assistant GM job? Former Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, now the Grizzlies’ vice president of basketball affairs. Prince has been working in Memphis’ front office only since 2017, so it appears the team would target him only for an assistant general manager position.
The Pistons also have had interest for many years in finding an assistant general manager job for former point guard Chauncey Billups. Per a source, Billups, to this point, has shown interest only in lead GM jobs if he is to make the leap from TV analyst to a team executive.
It appears the team would prefer an experienced candidate for the GM job, someone who can step in and make an immediate impact. With Detroit rebuilding and focusing on young talent, a decision-maker with an eye for player evaluation and drafting seems to be of the utmost importance. The Pistons are likely to hold high lottery picks for the foreseeable future, and building the organization through young, cost-friendly talent appears to be their best path back toward relevancy.
Eric Woodyard: As Detroit continues its GM search, multiple sources tell ESPN that the Pistons haven’t requested permission to interview former Piston Tayshaun Prince for the role. Prince is currently Memphis’ Vice President of Basketball Affairs and wasn’t on Detroit’s initial interview list.
Stefan Bondy: Detroit assistant GM Malik Rose is leaving the organization to take a job with the NBA, according to multiple sources. The Pistons are searching for a new GM to work with Ed Stefanski.
Rod Beard: The #Pistons still are working on their list of candidates for their GM opening. One would have to think that Tayshaun Prince would be on that list, along with possibly Chauncey Billups.
Vincent Goodwill: Ed Stefanski will remain at the top of basketball operations for the Pistons, if they hire a GM, a source tells Yahoo Sports. Pistons have been quietly vetting candidates since before the league shutdown, according to sources. @Adrian Wojnarowski first on official news of search
The Detroit Pistons are opening a search to hire a general manager to work with senior adviser Ed Stefanski, sources told ESPN. Detroit plans to begin contacting potential candidates to start an interview process this week, sources said.
Stefanski will be working with Pistons and Palace Sports vice chairman Arn Tellem on the process to hire a GM, sources said. The new GM will work closely with Stefanski and coach Dwane Casey on personnel matters. Stefanski and Casey were hired in 2018.
Vincent Ellis: But some #Pistons tidbits. Everyone is expected back from coaching, front office. Coaching consultant Corey Gaines was on a one-year deal, but could return.
DFP: Going into trade season, what are you trying to get accomplished? Ed Stefanski: “We as a front office, we talk to the league on a regular basis, finding out from teams what their philosophy may be right now, but the thing is, it always changes. A lot of teams — trying to make the playoffs — will wait to see where they are at the trade deadline in February to discern whether they are buyers or sellers. The majority of teams are waiting. Teams that are struggling mightily may be sellers right now and if there’s a deal out there, they’ll pull the trigger, but like every year, more trades are going to occur closer to the deadline.”
DFP: Besides the obvious issue of creating a future problem to solve a current one, can you further explain the reluctance to create a better cap situation at all costs? Ed Stefanski: “We’re in cap restrictions right now. We were this past free agency and we will be again the next free agency. If we had to get off assets for cap relief, with our cap situation it really wouldn’t improve more than what we already have — the midlevel exception — for next year. We wouldn’t improve substantially so to use assets to get off some of the contracts you may want to get off — I’m not saying we want to — but to do something like that? It still wouldn’t create a lot of room.”
DFP: Has Blake Griffin exceeded expectations? Ed Stefanski: “I didn’t know what to expect from Blake. In talking to him this summer, he mentioned this is the first summer in a while he’d been totally healthy and I think it’s shown. He’s very difficult (to defend), he’s a force out there, he’s playing at an All-Star level. I enjoy watching how the other teams want to come out and play him. A lot of teams get physical with him, … teams bring double teams, teams bring triple teams and he’s been real good at finding the open man. … Most of this year he’s found the open man and we run a lot of our offense through him.”
Vincent Ellis: The Detroit Pistons announce Sachin Gupta has been named assistant general manager. He will oversee analytics, source tells the Free Press.
James Edwards III: The Detroit #Pistons have announced the hiring of Gregg Polinsky as director of player personnel. He's been with the Nets since 1999 in various scouting and personnel positions.
The Pistons have hired Gregg Polinsky as director of player personnel, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News on Thursday. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the hiring. In his new role with the Pistons, Polinsky he will oversee the scouting department and report to senior adviser Ed Stefanski. The two worked together previously with the Brooklyn Nets.
Vincent Ellis: Aside from Nets exec Gregg Polinsky joining #Pistons front office, Pat Garrity and Andrew Loomis, holdovers from SVG staff, are here in Vegas and are likely to remain.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Detroit has hired Brooklyn's Gregg Polinsky as Director of Player Personnel, league sources tell ESPN. Ed Stefanski and Polinsky worked together for years with the Nets. Polinsky will take on a larger front office role with Pistons.
Marc J. Spears: Former NBA forward Malik Rose is expected to be hired as the @Detroit Pistons assistant general manager tomorrow, a source told @TheUndefeated. The two-time champion has been the @Atlanta Hawks basketball operations manager since 2015.
James Edwards III: Stefanski echoes Van Gundy's thoughts when the trade for Griffin went down: "I'd rather have Blake than whoever we'd get at No. 12"
James Edwards III: For all of those who still are unsure or unclear, Ed Stefanski was just introduced as "leader of our front office."
James Edwards III: In the front office, the #Pistons were looking for a young, promising person to put in the mix. Rose fits the bill. And given the new structure of the front office, it's unclear if he'll be labeled as "general manager." But he'll be involved.
Shams Charania: The Detroit Pistons have offered a front office role to Atlanta Hawks executive Malik Rose and sides are in conversations toward deal, league sources tell Yahoo. Rose was awarded G League Executive of Year this season with Erie.
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September 26, 2021 | 12:48 pm EDT Update

Ja Morant: 'I'm a Top 5 point guard'

Where do you feel you rank among the top point guards in the game? Ja Morant: Top 5. If you’re Top 5, who else is there with you? Ja Morant: Morant: Steph (Curry). I’m a big Chris Paul fan. I’d say Dame (Lillard) and (Russell) Westbrook. It’s tough. The point guard position is so loaded. Some guys have to get left out.
Your teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., was the No. 2 breakout player, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives I did for HoopsHype. What do you expect from a healthy Jaren this season? Ja Morant: To me, personally, I think he’s No. 1 if he’s healthy. He’s been battling some injuries that set him back. A healthy Jaren is definitely the number one breakout player this season. He’s just a special talent that’s gifted. He’s 7-foot-1, can shoot the three, can put it on the floor, and can play inside. He does so much on the floor. As long as he stays healthy, which we need him to be, he’s definitely number one.
What do you think of Dillon Brooks as a defender and as a player overall for this team? Ja Morant: Dillon is an important piece to this team offensively and defensively. I’ve been saying a lot now that I feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense, especially against some of the top guys. Some of them probably won’t admit it, but I feel like most of the games when they struggled, Dillon was guarding them. Soon, that’ll come that he gets his respect for that. Offensively, how he’s able to score the ball from all three levels is big-time for us.
Speaking of locker rooms, what are the expectations in the locker room for the Grizzlies this season? Where do you guys think you can compete on what type of level? Ja Morant: I feel like we can compete with the top teams in this league. We all have that mindset, and this chip on our shoulder we go out and play with each and every night. Now, it’s continuing to buy in and keep gelling as a team and getting better with chemistry. Having more guys step up and talk who’ve been in the game for a while to help the young guys come along. Our goal this year is to continue to be better in all areas and better than we were last year.
Granted, all of that stuff is a lot easier to say in the offseason than it is to actually feel when a player is on the outside looking in. But while it could just be a bunch of PR-friendly cliches being spewed, this team also really could be that committed to winning. Ellington certainly thinks so, and during a recent appearance on BallIsLife’s “Noble and Roosh Show,” he also outlined a few other reasons he thinks guys will be all right with not playing as much as they have in the past: “I think we have one of the older rosters, so I think guys are able to be mature about that. We understand that everybody’s not going to be able to play 30 minutes a game, so there’s going to be sacrifice. There’s going to be sacrifices that need to be made, and I think that’s part of the understanding. “But also, understanding that with the older roster, guys aren’t going to be able to play. Guys aren’t going to play every single game. I think you’re going to see sometimes guys get rested and that’s where the ‘Next Man Up’ mentality comes into play.”
It’s why he also likes that the team made sure to add a few younger players as well: “I think it’s a great combination, man, of basketball IQ, championship experience, hunger with the guys wanting more. You got a mix of guys that haven’t won championships who are hungry for championships. You got some young guys in Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, THT, you got some young guys that are dogs. I think it’s a great mix of veterans and some mid guys and some young guys. I think the roster was constructed beautifully.”
September 26, 2021 | 6:15 am EDT Update

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "There’s no room for players who do not want to get vaccinated"

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
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