The Pistons are getting a fresh start, both in the front office and with the coaching staff.
After firing Stan Van Gundy — who was both the team president and head coach — last month, the Pistons also have parted ways with general manager Jeff Bower, a source confirmed to The Detroit News on Friday.
Bower’s contract was set to expire on June 30 and the decision was made not to renew it. The contracts for the rest of the front office also expire at the end of the month; it's unclear if any of them will return with the new regime.
Bower was Van Gundy’s top lieutenant and the latest departure signals that the Pistons are going in a completely different direction as they reconstruct their executive staff. Pistons owner Tom Gores hired Ed Stefanski as a senior advisor last week and the team reportedly is considering Nets assistant general manager Trajan Langdon and former players Tayshaun Prince and Brent Barry for other positions in the front office.
In his four-year tenure with the Pistons, Bower ran the day-to-day operations for the team and Van Gundy repeatedly gave him credit for finishing the details in some of their better trades, such as acquiring Blake Griffin, Tobias Harris and Reggie Bullock.
It wasn't all good, though.
The biggest criticisms of the Pistons' front office were for their selections in the NBA draft and in some of their signings in free agency. They missed opportunities to draft budding stars such as Devin Booker and Donovan Mitchell and also gave huge contracts to reserves Jon Leuer and Langston Galloway without significant return in on-the-court production.
The Pistons finished 39-43 this season and missed the playoffs three of the four seasons under the Van Gundy front office. As they continue their search for a new executive staff, they're also looking for a new head coach, with names such as Michigan's John Beilein, Miami assistant Juwan Howard and TNT analyst Kenny Smith on their radar.
In replacing Van Gundy and Bower, Stefanski and his team, which includes Bernie Bickerstaff and Jim Lynam as consultants, could continue with a three-tier system — with a team president, general manager and head coach — or move to a two-level approach with no team president.
The leaning seems to be that the Pistons are interesting in a younger, rising executive to become the new head of the front office — possibly in the mold of the Celtics' Danny Ainge — and who can grow into the position. Having Stefanski, who was a respected executive with the Memphis Grizzlies before coming to the Pistons, could make that transition easier, allowing the opportunity to gain experience.
Stefanski's title of senior advisor looks to be a temporary one, with the possibility of changing titles after the dust settles around a new front office.