Pistons new assistant GM excited to work under SVG’s ‘one voice’

Brian Wright worked in Orlando when Stan Van Gundy coached there and he’s excited to be back with him in a structure that he says will make his job easier.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

ORLANDO – The chance to work for a Stan Van Gundy-coached team was a powerful lure for Brian Wright. The chance to work for him in an organization he leads on the executive side doubled the appeal.

“I think it makes all of our jobs in the front office easier when you have a consistent vision and there’s no getting outside of that,” Wright said after the Pistons hired him to be assistant general manager this week. “It’s the same messaging. There’s one voice and it makes our job easier when we’re evaluating players, whether through the draft or free agency or trades. We know what’s expected and what we like. That’s clearly been defined, which is great.”

Wright, 32, has been on a fast track since interning with the Orlando Magic for the 2006-07 season. He was hired to the staff after one season and worked his way up the ladder, most recently serving as Orlando’s director of college scouting. As assistant general manager, he’ll likely assist general manager Jeff Bower on the spectrum of a GM’s duties – amateur and pro scouting, communicating with upper levels of management for the NBA’s 29 other teams and helping with contract negotiations.

“We talked about a lot of things and threw some ideas on the board,” Wright said, “but we’re going to take the next few weeks to figure out that still. It’s a work in progress.”

Wright served under two administrations during his time in Orlando, first with Otis Smith as general manager and for the last two seasons – since Smith and Van Gundy left – under GM Rob Hennigan.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great mentors and work with a lot of great people and that’s helped me formulate my ideas and what I would bring to the team,” he said. “From that standpoint, I was able to pick and choose some things I liked and some things I may not and take that to Stan and he liked some of the ideas I brought.”

Wright, an African American, is the first front office minority hire for Van Gundy, who vowed when Bower was hired that diversity would be achieved. He said the Pistons had requested permission to interview five candidates for general manager – one request was not granted – and three of the five were minority candidates.

His age also adds diversity to the mix and, at 32, gives the organization someone in the front office who figures to have better insight into the perspectives of its players.

“A lot of times we’ll have some of the same interests,” he said. “So those conversations are really easy. But even when things are hard, the biggest thing in this business is being honest and treat people the way you want to be treated and the way they should be treated and I think people respect that.”

Once Summer League concludes and the Pistons put the finishing touches on free agency, Van Gundy anticipates resuming the business of filling out his staffs on both sides of the operation. Wright is eager to get to Auburn Hills and roll up his sleeves.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said of working with Van Gundy again. “That was a big draw for me, knowing the type of person he is, the type of work he does and his consistency as a person and as a coach. I’m excited to get back to work with him.”