Even in a state of limbo, it’s business as usual for Pistons general manager Jeff Bower.
Until he’s told differently, he’s still in charge of the front office, two weeks after the Pistons owner Tom Gores parted ways with coach and team president Stan Van Gundy.
Bower has steered the ship through the draft combine last week and will continue — at least for the foreseeable future, until his contract expires on June 30.
Bower still is conducting business and not worrying about what happens as the Pistons look to restock their front office and coaching staff after a disappointing 39-43 season and missing the playoffs. Draft prospects will continue working out this week and Bower will field any trade calls until he’s told not to.
“We’re continuing with our normal duties that take place at this time of year, for the draft and for planning,” Bower told The Detroit News Tuesday. “The ownership group is going through their processes and at some point, everything will be settled.”
The uncertainty isn’t stopping Bower from making and working through potential transactions or figuring out the Pistons’ path forward for next month’s draft. They lost their first-round pick when they didn’t move up in the draft lottery, giving the No. 12 overall pick to the Los Angeles Clippers as the final piece of the Blake Griffin trade.
They still have their second-round pick, No. 42 overall, and Bower still will lead the contingent that will work out and assess the possibilities at that spot in the draft. That included some interviews and preliminary meetings with prospects last week at the combine and will continue through the next few weeks, ahead of the draft on June 21.
At the combine last week, the Pistons’ uncertain future in the front office and coaching staff didn’t deter other teams from approaching Bower about potential roster opportunities with draft picks or other talks. That could include trading up into the first round, if the possibility presents itself in a deal that makes sense.
“We’re dealing with a wide range of players (at No. 42),” Bower said. “The difference between No. 25 and 45 is not that great and we’re dealing with an overall group of guys.”
The Pistons don’t have much wiggle room in trying to make moves outside of the draft.
They’re over the salary cap and the only expiring contracts are for Anthony Tolliver and James Ennis III; they’ll almost assuredly pick up the team option for Reggie Bullock for a very reasonable $2.5 million.
Bower reportedly is in consideration to remain on the job, but the Pistons also reportedly are considering a pool of other candidates to turn the front office, including Kiki VanDeWeghe, Ed Stefanski, Gersson Rosas and Trajan Langdon.
Other names mentioned for a position in the front office included Brent Barry and Shane Battier (Detroit Country Day).
Indications are that the Gores his advisors have begun the interview process, with preliminary interviews of some of the candidates. It’s unclear whether the Pistons will have a two-tier system with a general manager and coach or an additional tier with a team president in the new front office.
There are three coaching vacancies left: Toronto, Orlando and Detroit, and the Pistons are the only team looking to fill positions in their front office. Though the process has gone slowly in the initial stages, the progress could pick up steam in the coming weeks, with the front office being finalized and then a coach following soon after.
The coaching candidates are likely to include Dwane Casey, who was fired by the Toronto Raptors, along with Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and former Pistons standout Jerry Stackhouse, who coached in the development league.