For the past two years, the Pistons’ front-office structure has been something of an anomaly in NBA circles. They moved on from a more traditional alignment of Stan Van Gundy as team president and Jeff Bower as general manager and brought in Ed Stefanski as senior adviser to team owner Tom Gores — with no general manager reporting to him.
A league source confirmed Tuesday to The Detroit News that the Pistons are looking to add a general manager, who will report to Stefanski. It’s an opportunity to add another voice to the front office who will assume more of the day-to-day responsibilities.
Some NBA teams have several assistant general managers, but the Pistons have just two: Pat Garrity and Malik Rose. They’ve done an admirable job of weathering the storm in unraveling their salary-cap struggles. This summer, the Pistons are on course to be one of the few teams in the league with cap space — about $30 million, depending on how big the losses due to issues with China and with COVID-19 are — through some of their maneuverings.
Expanding the front office with more viewpoints could be another step in getting the Pistons on the road to returning to relevance.
They appear to be in the beginning stages of their search for a general manager and in developing a list of candidates, here are a few who could be under consideration (in alphabetical order):
►Shane Battier, a Birmingham native who played at Country Day, had a 13-year NBA playing career. He won two championships with the Miami Heat and now is the vice president of basketball development and analytics with that franchise. Battier, 41, previously was a consideration for the Pistons, but with two preteen children and job security working with team president Pat Riley — and comfortable living in Miami — it’s a difficult proposition to try to pry Battier from his current gig.
►Chauncey Billups was the point guard on the 2004 Pistons championship squad and remains a fan favorite. After his playing career, he began working as a TV analyst for ESPN and last season also worked as a TV analyst for the Clippers. The prevailing knock against Billups, 43, is his lack of front-office experience, but his name has continued to surface when vacancies open around the league.
►Mark Hughes is a Muskegon native and played on Michigan’s 1989 NCAA championship team as well as with the Pistons and Raptors. Hughes, 53, is an assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Clippers after previously working with the Knicks as a director of player personnel. He’s expanded his responsibilities with the Clippers and seems suited to move into a GM role.
►Tayshaun Prince was promoted to vice president of basketball operations with the Memphis Grizzlies last year and has built a nice front-office resume. Prince, 40, was drafted by the Pistons and in his 11 seasons in Detroit, helped win the 2004 championship. He’s getting experience in player personnel evaluation and development, and was a special adviser to the general manager when he started his front-office career.
►Troy Weaver has been with the Oklahoma City Thunder for 12 years and is the vice president of basketball operations, after serving as assistant GM for eight years. Weaver, 51, has gained valuable experience in day-to-day team operations, as well as draft prep and free agency in working with Sam Presti. His background includes being a director of player personnel and head scout for the Utah Jazz and assistant coach at Syracuse.
►Michael Zarren started as an intern and in his 14 years with the Boston Celtics, he has moved up the ranks to assistant general manager. Zarren, 44, has a law degree from Harvard and also serves as the team legal counsel. His specialty is statistical analytics and strategic planning. He’s a lifelong Celtics fan and has passed on previous overtures from other teams, but with his experience and background, it’s worth making the call.