Two years ago, when the Pistons were looking to rebuild their front office, they requested permission to interview Troy Weaver, who was a sought-after assistant general manager with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder refused, and the Pistons moved forward with Ed Stefanski leading the front office, but they left the spot of general manager vacant.
This time, they circled back. This time, Weaver was ready — and available.
Weaver joins the Pistons staff with the task of reinvigorating a franchise that hasn’t had a playoff win in more than a decade. When the season is scheduled to resume in July, the Pistons will be on the outside looking in, one of eight teams eliminated.
Although team owner Tom Gores and Stefanski have conceded that the Pistons are beginning a rebuild, Weaver isn’t so quick to use that term.
“This isn’t a rebuild — it’s a restoring. There’s been greatness here,” Weaver said Monday in his virtual introductory press conference. “The Motor City deserves a consistent winner back on the floor.”
The Pistons and Weaver is a union two years in the making, as the Pistons had an unusual structure to their front office, with Stefanski as the senior adviser to Gores, but handling many of the responsibilities of a president of basketball operations and general manager.
With Weaver, the Pistons get an ideal candidate to usher them into the next phase of their franchise development, as Weaver worked with Thunder general manager Sam Presti to make Oklahoma City one of the pillars of the Western Conference, including four appearances in the conference finals and one trip to the NBA Finals.
Getting a fresh start with a rebuild with the Pistons is a challenge, but Gores said the Pistons went all out to get the best person for the job.
“(Weaver) had all the track record and everything on his resume that made complete sense. We had actually tried to talk to Troy a couple years ago and Oklahoma City wasn’t quite ready to let him go, so he’s been on our radar for a while,” Gores said. “Ed has come in and done a great job of stabilizing our front office and cleaning some things up.
“We just felt it was time to go big or go home — let’s just go get the best. We have a great coach ready to go and Dwane (Casey) and Troy have a great chemistry they’ve built.”
The timing of Weaver’s hiring and the Pistons’ emergence from two years of perilous salary-cap maneuvering — along with a critical upcoming high draft pick and space under the cap — makes adding Weaver a priority.
Weaver sees the fit as a good opportunity to use what he’s learned under Presti to begin to lead in the Pistons’ front office and to use his experience to right the ship.
“I just felt like I looked at where the Pistons were at this time, trying to surge forward and become a competitive team again. I’ve been in those situations, when I first went to Utah after (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone, Utah was trying to restore their franchise and I was a part of that,” Weaver said. “My last 12 years in OKC, we just built it from the ground up. My skills and my talents and leadership and training I’ve had with the Jazz and Thunder actually made this a great fit for myself and thank God the Pistons saw it the same way.”
One of the primary tasks for Weaver in his first weeks will be assessing the roster and deciding which pieces to keep. That starts with stars Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose. Both have had injuries, but the mix of veterans and young players can be a benefit.
“You have two veteran big-time players that are looking to restore their careers: Blake Griffin, who is a perennial All-Star, and Derrick Rose. Both guys have had some injury history and they’re looking forward to building their careers back,” Weaver said. “That stood out and we’re excited to get them healthy and help us moving forward.
“The second piece is the young players on the roster: Sekou (Doumbouya), (Luke) Kennard, Bruce Brown and Svi (Mykhailiuk) and (Christian) Wood. We feel like we have a good mixture of young guys with those two staples to start there.”
The Thunder lose one of their keystones in the front office, but Presti was gracious in congratulating Weaver.
“Troy has been an integral member of our organization since 2008. Aside from being a terrific basketball executive, Troy's personal values of honesty, unity, and hard work make him a great addition to the Pistons organization.
“The Pistons could not have found a better person to lead and direct their franchise.”
Weaver will guide the Pistons’ day-to-day operations and one of his first orders of business will be assembling the remainder of his staff, which will include adding at least one new assistant general manager, after the departure of Malik Rose. The NBA announced Monday that Rose accepted a position as vice president of basketball operations in the league office.
The Pistons are one of eight teams whose season ended because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will not be part of the 22-team restart that is planned for late July in Florida.
They finished the season at 20-46 and will have a likely top-five draft pick and possibly $30 million in salary-cap space when the offseason hits in October.