Rod Beard of The Detroit News talks about what led to the end of the Stan Van Gundy era and what's next for the Pistons. Rod Beard, Detroit News
After three weeks of deliberations and negotiations, Pistons owner Tom Gores and team president and coach Stan Van Gundy parted ways on Monday. The split leaves a void in the front office during a critical period in the NBA season, as the NBA Draft approaches and teams need to start assessing their paths forward in the summer.
With Van Gundy gone, who’s left to steer the Pistons’ ship? The most likely answer is general manager Jeff Bower, in the interim.
Bower’s contract expires on June 30 and he’ll likely represent the Pistons at the draft lottery and draft combine next week in Chicago. The Pistons will lose their first-round pick unless it falls in the top three overall through the lottery; otherwise, it’ll go to the Clippers in the Blake Griffin deal.
They also have a second-round pick (42nd overall) and Bower could lead the franchise in their draft workouts and in any potential trade talks until a new team president is hired.
Under Van Gundy, Bower ran the day-to-day operations while Van Gundy retained the final veto on personnel moves and focused his attention on coaching. In his comments about Van Gundy on Monday, Gores didn’t make mention of Bower’s future.
Conventional wisdom states that even in a full makeover of the front office, there needs to be some continuity from one regime to the next. That could be the case with Bower, who has good connections throughout the NBA and was an integral part of their trades and free-agent acquisitions.
“As I always said, Jeff did 95 percent of the front-office job,” Van Gundy told The Detroit News. “I had the final say on personnel moves, but from a day-to-day process, Jeff did all of that work.”
It’s unclear what the path forward for the Pistons front office will be, but all of the coaching staff — except Rex Walters, who joined the staff last season — is still under contract until June 30.
Gores is moving forward to find a new team president, who in turn will look to fill out the rest of the front office and decide on a new head coach. That doesn’t have to be done before the combine, but if Bower stays in place, it could give them more time to complete the process and make some initial decisions.
Bower, 57, had been rumored to be a candidate to become general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, but stayed put with the Pistons.