After an inconsistent general manager and a new coach every other season, the Detroit Pistons were due for some competent hands taking the reigns. The summer of 2014 would be the one of transition. First, the Pistons replaced Joe Dumars with Stan Van Gundy. The fan base was generally happy with the hire. No one questioned Van Gundy’s ability to coach, but a few eyebrows were raised due to the fact that the new coach would occupy the front office as well.
Now those questioning looks can be alleviated. Van Gundy (the president of basketball operations) has hired Jeff Bower to be the Pistons’ general manager. Van Gundy still has the final say over personnel, but Bower can manage the day-to-day aspects of the job, freeing up Van Gundy to focus on game plans.
The Pistons didn’t just hire a guy off the street. Bower is best known for his work for the New Orleans Hornets, back when that team existed. When he first took over, it was clear that he wouldn’t shy away from difficult or controversial decisions. He traded away fan favorite Baron Davis, but not without a plan: he picked up Chris Paul in the ensuing draft.
Though the next two seasons were injury plagued, Bower built a roster stocked with specific pieces: Paul, a three point gunner in Peja Stojakovic, and a low post presence in David West. He then flipped JR Smith, who wasn’t too bad a draft pick, for Tyson Chandler to round out the roster.
Bower has a solid track record in the draft, one that is at least comparable to Dumars. Bower’s best pick was the can’t-miss in Paul, but one can’t overlook him identifying players like Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton as special talents.
Bower was with the Hornets for 14 years before being named general manager, and he cut his teeth as a scout. He developed an eye for talent that he hasn’t lost today.
Bower left the Hornets in 2010, and his most recent basketball position was the head coach at Marist College. While this may seem like a strange step backward to some, Bower earned his first position in basketball at Marist. He was an assistant for the Red Foxes, serving 9 years before making the leap to NBA scout.
Between Van Gundy and Bower, the Pistons should have a winning roster on the court soon. This is the feeling of change taking hold, and hopefully it stays in the upcoming season. As long as Bower doesn’t give Charlie Villanueva a max contract or draft a Marist player for kicks, I’ll probably be happy.