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The Pistons are making progress in their search for a general manager, which began two weeks ago. They initially had a short list of candidates to help fill out their front office, and this week, there appears to be three who have emerged as front-runners.

Troy Weaver, who is vice president of basketball operations for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has emerged as the top choice, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. Weaver, 51, has been involved in the Thunder’s day-to-day operations as an assistant general manager, along with having a say in their personnel moves in the draft and free agency.

In working with general manager Sam Presti, Weaver has gained valuable experience that would aid in his jump to handling the spot with the Pistons. Weaver is regarded for his eye in identifying talent throughout the Thunder’s heyday, from the team drafting Russell Westbrook in 2008 — Weaver’s first year — through their reconstruction with the departures of Kevin Durant, Paul George and Westbrook.

After the blockbuster trade with the Clippers that sent George to Los Angeles in return for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and several draft picks, the Thunder have rebounded as one of the top five teams in the Western Conference this season.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted that two other “serious candidates” who have emerged in the Pistons’ selection process, adding Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Jeff Peterson and Clippers assistant general manager Mark Hughes to the list.

A source close to the process indicated that the Pistons would like to hire at least one minority candidate to the front office, and all three of the reported front-runners are African-American. The Pistons would like to first choose a general manager who will fit into a revamped front-office structure, reporting to Ed Stefanski, who is the senior adviser to team owner Tom Gores.

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The Pistons also are looking to add at least one more assistant general manager to the mix. After assistant general manager Malik Rose left the organization two weeks ago and accepted a position in the NBA league office, there’s a void in their pro personnel area, where they could be looking to add some expertise.

For general manager, the Pistons are looking at more-experienced candidates, and there are several other candidates who will be considered for assistant general manager. That list potentially includes former Pistons players Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups. 

According to SNY's Ian Begley, the Pistons also are considering J.R. Holden, the Nets' director of player personnel, and Michael Dunleavy Jr., who is an assistant GM with the Warriors. 

The long-term future of assistant general manager Pat Garrity is unclear, as his contract expires at the end of June — though initial indications are that he could stay on, at least in the short term. Garrity also has interviewed to become the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, though that selection process is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hughes, 53, grew up in Muskegon and played on the 1989 national championship team at Michigan. He has moved up the ladder after many years with the New York Knicks as their director of player personnel. He joined the Clippers in 2017 and is known for his talent evaluation.

Peterson, 31, is young but would have an opportunity to grow in the Pistons’ organization. He’s known as a hardworking executive with an eye for talent evaluation. Peterson began as an intern with the Atlanta Hawks and advanced to become an assistant general manager within seven years, before moving to the same role with the Nets in May 2019.

The Nets have beefed up the roster with the additions of Durant and Kyrie Irving last offseason, adding to a solid core they had with Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Though Durant and Irving were injured for most of this season, the Nets are positioned to be a contender for years to come.

Weaver, though, seems to be the top choice, as confirmed by Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill: “Major hurdles have been cleared to pave way for OKC’s Troy Weaver to become Detroit Pistons new GM. Both sides want to make this happen.”

In previous years, Weaver’s name has been mentioned with many of the front-office openings around the league, but he’s stuck with the Thunder. This time could be different, with the opportunity that the Pistons present.

The Pistons had sought permission to speak to Weaver during the downtime because of the pandemic. And according to the reports, they’ve made some headway in discussions about the job.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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