SVG Part II: Straight shooting from Dave Hopla and the boost Arn Tellem brings the Pistons

Adding Arn Tellem will help the Pistons in a variety of ways and Stan Van Gundy hopes to especially tap his expertise as a negotiator.
Jesse D. Garrabrant (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

(Editor’s note: Stan Van Gundy talked to editor Keith Langlois about what’s new, what’s next and his expectations for his second season as Pistons head coach. Here’s Part II of their Q& A.)

Keith Langlois: What’s been the initial reaction among players to the addition of a shooting coach, Dave Hopla.

Stan Van Gundy: I think it’s been great. First of all, Dave’s a positive, upbeat, energetic guy. He brings great energy to the gym every day, so guys like him. The key for us is really prioritizing Dave’s time to make sure he’s with the guys that he can benefit the most. He’s been quick to establish relationships with players. He’s got great technical knowledge of shooting and he’ll just put in hour after hour after hour. We haven’t even hit training camp and guys have asked him to come back in at night and he’s done that. He’s going to be a great addition. I don’t think there’s anybody better out there doing what he does. For us, the challenge is just making sure that we structure things and operate in such a way that it maximizes what he’s able to do.

KL: Seems like most guys have already come across him or known about him from their days going to basketball camps as kids.

SVG: We had guys come in and actually work with the players so we could watch them work with them during the interview process and Andre went, ‘Oh, I know him.’ They didn’t know the name, necessarily, but as soon as they saw him. He’s a highly respected guy. Our players really like him. For me, he’s been a good addition to the staff just because he’s such an upbeat, energetic, positive guy. Going through the interview, I spent some time with Eddie Jordan on the phone. He had worked for Eddie in Washington and I have a lot of respect for Eddie – I’ve known him a long time – and Eddie just raved about him. ‘You couldn’t hire anybody better.’ We’ve been really happy with that. He’s always on. I think that part of it comes from, he’s a guy who for a lot of us his life has made his living on his own, out speaking at camps. You’ve got to be on every day or you’re not getting invited back. When we were first hiring him, we’re looking at his schedule because he had all these commitments. Holy cow, I don’t know how he did it. I was like, man, how do you do this? But he’s that good and in that much demand and we were really, really lucky he was available.

KL: Another thing that’s new is the arrival of Arn Tellem. He told a group of reporters a few weeks back that probably 80 percent or more of his time will be spent on the community outreach projects that are so important to Tom Gores, on connecting with local and regional business, sports and government leaders and on some big-picture ideas. But he’d be available to basketball operations as needed. In what ways will you try to tap Arn’s expertise?

SVG: Jeff (Bower, general manager) and I are meeting with Arn (today) to talk about that very thing. Just how we think that he might help us. I definitely think the one area is in terms of negotiations. Arn’s expertise is as a negotiator and I think we certainly can utilize him in that way. Exactly what that role is – advisory, in the room, whatever – is something that we’ll talk about. But I think when it gets down to negotiating with our own players, free agents, he’s got great expertise. He knows all the other agents out there, too. He knows the business from their side. So I think there is great value there. And then I think Arn’s been, as an agent, a player advocate for a long, long time. As such, I think Arn has a pretty good feel for players – what’s important to them, what they like, what they don’t like. He’s just a very smart guy. His approach so far has been very low key. I’ve had the chance to spend a little bit of time with him when he and Tom were talking. Tom had me involved in the process and I’ve had a little more chance since to spend time with him. Just on a personal level, I just really like the guy.

KL: When the news broke last spring, Tom said that he came to you before they signed off on it and wanted to make sure you were comfortable with the idea of bringing Arn on board. How did you respond?

SVG: My thing is that when Tom said, ‘Hey, you can veto this thing if you want,’ I said to Tom – and this is true – I have great, great respect for Tom’s business acumen and his knowledge of people, so I would never presume that I would know more, anyway, and get involved in that. But my take was any time you get a chance to bring on another high-level person like Arn that can help you in a lot of different areas, you do it. I think Arn will end up being involved in a lot of different ways. Most of it will be business, but I think he’ll help us.

KL: What does it say about the Pistons that a guy with the type of business success he’s had would leave it behind to come to this organization specifically?

SVG: The fact a guy like him, with quite possibly the best agency out there – certainly one of the top agencies out there – would leave that and come with us, I think it speaks volumes about how people look at the Pistons and where they’re headed and, quite honestly, if you talk to Arn, it’s Tom. It’s the support, it’s the leadership, it’s all of that you know is there. It’s the same thing that for me made my decision was Tom. When you talk to Arn, it’s the same thing. I think there’s a great belief that with Tom leading things, things are going to be done the right way and you’re going to have a great chance to succeed. So you want to be a part of that.