David’s first day as Pistons assistant GM spanned the spectrum
Have you had a first day on a new job? You’re generally allowed to ease into it, right? Arrange your personal pictures on the desk, find out where the supplies are kept, maybe get taken out to lunch by the boss.
George David’s first day as Pistons assistant general manager started in Auburn Hills laying the groundwork for a trade that could significantly alter the franchise’s direction and ended past midnight in New York after a hastily arranged workout with Andre Drummond.
“When I say he hit the ground running from day one, he hit the ground running,” Pistons president Joe Dumars smiled in recalling the whirlwind day spent at David’s side. “We flew to New York, completed the Ben Gordon trade, then we go work out Andre Drummond at about 10 o’clock that night. We’re riding back to the hotel a few hours later and I said to him, ‘Hell of a first day on the job, wasn’t it, George?’ ”
There wasn’t much letup. They were up at dawn a few hours later on June 27 to catch a 6 a.m. flight back to Auburn Hills for the final predraft workout. Then it was the hectic final hours leading to the draft the following day, working the phones with agents and executives around the league. Once the draft ended, David was in the office until the wee hours contacting agents of undrafted players and putting the finishing touches on the team’s Summer League roster.
It was those qualities in David – the ability to juggle several balls and the willingness to tackle any assigned task – that has allowed him to rise through the ranks over 16 years with the Pistons.
His roots were sunk in the same soil as Lawrnece Frank’s – as a student manager at Indiana on Bobby Knight’s staff, David arriving in Bloomington the season after Frank departed. David spend the summer of 1996 preparing to take the LSAT exam with the intention of pursuing a law degree, but he contacted the Pistons and Doug Collins to see if they could use any intern help that summer.
After some back and forth, David got a phone call five days before training camp was to open offering him a job as video coordinator based on his experience providing video reports for Knight at IU.
“I hadn’t interviewed for it,” David said. “My first meeting was the team dinner opening training camp. I didn’t know one person, including the people who hired me. I sat down at a table and, ironically, the person sitting at the table by himself was Joe.”
David stayed as video coordinator until Dumars was named Pistons president of basketball operations on June 6, 2000, when he was promoted to director of scouting. When Scott Perry left for one year in 2007 to become assistant general manager at Seattle, David moved into his position as personnel director. Perry returned to replace John Hammond as Joe D’s No. 2 in 2008 and now David again replaces Perry, who left to join the Orlando Magic in late June.
“Scott was as good as you’re going to get,” Dumars said. “That’s why Orlando came after him immediately after Rob Hennigan was hired. But now George steps in and we don’t miss a beat. George is the ultimate. He’s as smart, as hard working and as honest as you’re ever going to get. If there was ever a guy who deserved to move into the assistant GM job, it’s George David. I don’t think you’d get anybody in the business that would refute that for one second.”
When Perry told Dumars of the opportunity in Orlando, there wasn’t much of a job search Dumars needed to replace him.
“Basically, it was, ‘Hey, George, come down to my office for a second. OK, you’re the guy.’ It was bittersweet, because he and Scott and I have worked together for such a long time. But he also knew it was an incredible opportunity.”
David won’t relinquish all of his domain as personnel director. He’ll still be heavily involved in the scouting of both American college players and international pros and amateurs. “George is too good at it to take him out of it completely,” Dumars said.
The major shift in focus for him will be in discussing personnel with peers around the league for the purpose of player trades and the constantly ongoing dialogue with agents that lays the groundwork for future transactions.
Doug Ash, personnel director, will assume greater responsibilities to take some of the scouting onus off of David.
“Doug will be able to assist in a lot of ways – and he already has been doing that,” David said. Ash helps coordinate the scouting schedule of not only David and Ash but scouts Durand Walker and Harold Ellis. They also make certain to make the best use of Dumars’ time, getting him to see the top prospects in the right settings.
The shuffling triggered a promotion for Ryan Hoover, who moves to the front office from his prior role as director of player development – essentially, making sure the transition of young players to professional basketball goes off smoothly.
“This is a big-time promotion for Ryan,” Dumars said. “Anybody that knows Ryan knows his energy, his enthusiasm for everything. To have a guy like that out scouting for you who is that enthused, that energetic and who loves the game, it’s huge for us and it’s huge for him. It’s a natural progression for him to move up. I’m excited for Ryan. He will be excited. I don’t care what game he’s watching, he’s going to be non-stop excited.”
One other important figure in the front office is Ken Catanella, hired by the Pistons after the lockout ended from his role as a numbers cruncher with the NBA league office. Catanella was a major player in strategizing sessions as the NBA negotiated the new collective bargaining agreement with the players association. We’ll have more on that hire in a future True Blue Pistons blog.