Jeff Bower, while coaching the Hornets, is pictured in April 2010 with then-New Orleans guard Chris Paul. (Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)
The Pistons and Jeff Bower are close to an agreement for Bower to become the team’s new general manager.
A source with intimate knowledge of the negotiations told The Detroit News on Monday that “significant progress is being made toward a deal.” The source requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
News of Bower’s imminent hiring was reported by Yahoo Sports and other media outlets.
Bower, currently head coach at Marist, would run the day-to-day operations for Stan Van Gundy, who will have final say on all personnel decisions. Bower was general manager for the New Orleans Hornets for seven seasons and was also head coach before going the college route.
"I can't comment on what everyone wants me to comment on right now, because it's not at that stage yet," Bower told the Poughkeepsie Journal Monday.
The Pistons hope to create the same synergy that exists in San Antonio, where coach Gregg Popovich has the ultimate say and works with GM R.C. Buford, who won Executive of the Year this season.
Van Gundy laid out his criteria for his general manager: someone who had previous experience in daily operations and someone with whom he was familiar. He interviewed Stu Jackson, and others such as Randy Pfund and Scott Layden were also in the mix.
Ultimately, he appears to have settled on Bower, 53, and the two will begin the task of helping the Pistons return to the NBA playoffs, a place they haven’t been since 2009.
They’ll face questions on how to mold a talented but ill-fitting roster, which includes Greg Monroe and his pending restricted free agency; Josh Smith and his remaining three years on his contract; and building without a first-round pick in this month's draft. (They do have the 39th overall pick, in the second round.)
Bower was GM of the Hornets from 2005-10. He also coached the team during the 2009-10 season after firing Byron Scott. He amassed a 34-39 record as interim coach.
Bower is noted by colleagues as a hard worker, and served as director of scouting back when the franchise was in Charlotte, before it moved to New Orleans.
The Hornets (now Pelicans) made the Western Conference semifinals in 2008, falling to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games after winning 56 games during the regular season. It was the high-water mark of Bower’s tenure in New Orleans, and the franchise made the playoffs twice under his stewardship.
Bower took over during training camp of the 2005-06 season, months after the Hornets drafted Chris Paul.
It was reported when Bower left New Orleans that his strained relationship with Paul, who wound up getting traded to the Clippers after the 2011 lockout, was the chief reason the two sides parted ways.
Perhaps that could be put on the franchise going through ownership issues, and Bower actually said he’d listen to trade offers involving Paul in the 2009-10 season, which seemingly caused a rift between the front office and ownership.
His draft record is mixed. He took guard Darren Collison 21st overall in 2009 but whiffed on a few, including Hilton Armstrong (12th overall, 2006), Cedric Simmons (15th, 2006) and Julian Wright (13th overall, 2007).
At the helm, Bower traded for Tyson Chandler, in the summer before the 2006-07 season, getting the Chicago Bulls to take on perpetual headache J.R. Smith, but also traded Chandler away a few years later, for Emeka Okafor.
Chandler served as a defensive force for the Hornets -- a role the Pistons’ new leaders undoubtedly envision for Andre Drummond.