What it says about the Pistons that Troy Weaver passed on other chances until now (hint: good things)
Layne Murdoch Jr. (NBAE/Getty)
Troy Weaver joined Oklahoma City’s front office in 2008 and about five minutes later was earmarked as a rising star and future general manager. If that’s an exaggeration, it’s not by much. For a decade now, he’s been a top-of-mind candidate every time an opening for a lead decision-maker comes around.
He’s had opportunities and passed, driven less by the dollar signs than by fit and growth potential of the franchise that would finally turn his head.
So what does it say that Weaver chose the Pistons – this franchise, at this time, under these circumstances – to leave the ironclad security of his spot at Sam Presti’s right hand in Oklahoma City?
It says the reputation of Tom Gores as owner has gotten around, for starters. Perhaps Weaver is the first big win for the franchise in the wake of Gores’ blanket approval for every amenity requested of his executives and coaches in building the Pistons Performance Center, their state-of-the-art practice facility and gleaming headquarters amid Detroit’s reborn New Center area.
It says Weaver believes in Gores’ commitment to winning and passion for community investment. It says he has faith in the guiding hand of Arn Tellem, whom he came to know first across the table as super agent representing players the Thunder pursued. It says he endorses the groundwork laid over the past two years by Ed Stefanski to leave the Pistons wide latitude to go about their rebuilding.
“It’s an honor for me to join a franchise with the history and tradition of the Detroit Pistons,” Weaver said in the statement announcing his hiring. “I’m excited for the challenge of building this team into a consistent winner and assembling the pieces to compete at a very high level. We’ll get to work right away, evaluating opportunities and installing systems that will make us all successful.”
Weaver’s reputation is as a keen talent evaluator. If you’re building your general manager from scratch that’s where you’ll want to start. He’ll have instant credibility with NBA players, many of whom know all about his past as a scout and college assistant credited with landing Carmelo Anthony at Syracuse. He’ll have free-agent pull.
A dozen years at Presti’s side will have Weaver as well versed in analytical application as anyone the Pistons could have hired. That will make his fit with Dwane Casey, by all appearances, as true and seamless as it could possibly get.
When news broke a few weeks ago that the Pistons were in the market for a general manager and the speculation over names followed, Weaver’s was the one that popped. Across the NBA, the looming question was whether this would be the opening Weaver would at long last pursue. He was universally admired – and very well paid, well above the NBA scale for assistant GMs – and professionally content in Oklahoma City.
That he’d passed on other jobs was well known across the NBA. If you’re reading tea leaves, the fact Weaver didn’t jump at other jobs for the paycheck – or for the ego gratification – bodes well for his chances to succeed in his first turn in the first chair.
Running an NBA front office today isn’t like it was even 15 years ago. The operations are sprawling now. Weaver’s keen eye for talent is every bit as valuable as it was in the days when Jack McCloskey built the Bad Boys with two scouts and a secretary filling his front office, but the ability to lead a diverse staff and operate it collaboratively is just as essential. That Weaver exercised atypical patience before being wooed by Gores speaks to the temperament required to thrive in today’s more complex environment.
Gores’ statement on Weaver’s hiring suggests those were qualities he sought in this critical hire.
“Troy is an outstanding executive with an exceptional track record for identifying and developing talent,” he said. “In talking with Troy, he’s got both the skill and temperament to lead and the confidence and creativity to work collaboratively with others. We’re excited for him to take the reins as general manager of the Pistons at this important moment. Ed and the team have done excellent work creating flexibility with our roster and establishing a clear direction. Troy comes aboard to help take us to the next level.”
His to-do list will start with filling out a staff, formulating a plan for utilization of the third-most cap space any NBA team will take into the off-season and preparing for the projected October draft and free agency. He’ll have the luxury of time, compliments of the COVID-19 pandemic, not typically afforded incoming GMs. On a macro level, every day will be about formulating and instilling a farsighted philosophy that fosters the best chance for sustained success.
That success isn’t guaranteed because nothing is in a world as competitive as the NBA, where fortune must smile upon you every now and then. But as with every decision Weaver will be faced with from this day forward, it’s all about assessing the odds and applying your best instincts. For fortune to smile upon you, first you have to put yourself in position to catch her eye. Hiring Troy Weaver – becoming the NBA franchise that finally won him over – has put the Pistons in precisely that position.