As a newcomer to Detroit and the Pistons, I’m thrilled and humbled to join such a storied franchise. As I said when Tom Gores, our owner, named me general manager, this isn’t a rebuilding – it’s a restoring. I remember the Bad Boys of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer and the more recent champions with Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton. Only eight franchises have won at least three NBA championships. The Pistons are one of them. I came here to honor that tradition and to build on it.
I spent the last 12 years as assistant general manager in Oklahoma City. I stayed that long, passing up chances to pursue other positions, out of loyalty and a commitment to help the Thunder win an NBA title. We came close but never quite made it. The NBA has never been more competitive. It’s hard to build a champion but I know what it takes. It starts with good people committed to the same goal. That’s why I came here. It took two minutes with Mr. Gores for me to see his passion, his heart for Detroit and for the Pistons. We held our interview on Zoom due to the pandemic, but even through my laptop screen his vision and commitment blew me away.
Arn Tellem and I have known each other for years. As a powerful agent, Arn had a common touch and a special commitment to his players. Ed Stefanski, a great basketball mind and someone I have great respect for, has brought to Detroit all of his experience and smarts from his many years in NBA front offices. The job he’s done the past two years puts us in position to move forward now. And in Dwane Casey, the Pistons have a coach who instills the qualities we will seek in players. He has reset the culture. I’m grateful for the opportunity Mr. Gores, Arn, Ed and Dwane have given me to join the Pistons family. Their combined experience and wealth of knowledge makes this job special.
The idea of a two- or three-year rebuild and then see where you are is a thing of the past. We want to put a competitive team on the floor, one that fans who come to Little Caesars Arena can identify with and be proud of. It starts with two great veterans, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, and then a number of good young players like Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Sekou Doumbouya and Svi Mykhailiuk.
We have work to do to make the roster better. Coach Casey’s staff will continue its mission in player development and our front office team will use all our resources to get him more players. This is an important off-season. We’ll have a high first-round pick and more cap space than all but two other NBA teams. My philosophy in the draft, where we had great success in Oklahoma City, is you don’t draft players but people. Get the person right and the basketball takes care of itself. We’re going to get the people that fit for coach Casey and will make all the great Pistons of our past proud when they come to see us or turn on their TV.
Mr. Gores told the story when I was hired of how he tried to talk to me two years ago but the timing to leave Oklahoma City wasn’t quite right. The timing was right for me this time. I’ve kept my eye on the Pistons and could see the direction they were moving the past two years. I feel like my skills developed over the past 12 years in Oklahoma City and before that in Utah make this a great fit. I’m thankful Mr. Gores and the Pistons felt the same way – that the time was right for them, too. I’m eager to get to work to reward their faith in me and to bring to you, our Pistons fans, the basketball you expect and deserve.