Troy Weaver hired as general manager to help Pistons reach ‘next level’

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This offseason is an important one for the Pistons. With significant space under the salary cap and a likely top-five draft pick, they’re on the cusp of a new era.

They’ll start it with a new face in the front office.

The team agreed to terms Thursday to make Troy Weaver its new general manager, joining Ed Stefanski to lead basketball operations. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Weaver’s deal is for four years.

Weaver previously had been in the Oklahoma City Thunder organization for 12 years, as an assistant general manager and most recently the vice president of basketball operations. The Pistons will introduce him at a virtual press conference next week, according to a source.

Weaver, 52, joins the Pistons front office headed by Stefanski, who is the senior adviser to team owner Tom Gores. Stefanski had been the de facto team president and general manager for the past two years, after the Pistons fired Stan Van Gundy as president and Jeff Bower as general manager.

With Weaver’s addition, the Pistons will have a more traditional structure to their front office, with Weaver as general manager, running the day-to-day operations. Weaver had worked under heralded general manager Sam Presti with the Thunder; in this opportunity, Weaver will get his first chance to run his own team.

“Troy is an outstanding executive with an exceptional track record for identifying and developing talent,” Gores said in a statement. “In talking with Troy, he’s got both the skill and temperament to lead and the confidence and creativity to work collaboratively with others. We’re excited for him to take the reins as General Manager of the Pistons at this important moment.

“Ed and the team have done excellent work creating flexibility with our roster and establishing a clear direction. Troy comes aboard to help take us to the next level.”

In recent years, several teams had targeted Weaver to interview for positions in their front offices. According to a league source, the Pistons inquired about Weaver two years ago, but the Thunder didn’t grant permission.

Weaver is regarded around the league for his keen decisions in identifying talent and in player personnel, which started in his first season with the Thunder in 2008. He pushed for drafting Russell Westbrook with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, when at the time, Westbrook wasn’t projected as an elite NBA prospect. Weaver identified him as a breakout star and the Thunder listened.

Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem, a former player agent, had some familiarity with Weaver early in his career with the Thunder, as Tellem was the vice chairman of Wasserman Media Group, which represented Westbrook.

As the Thunder rose to prominence — including 10 playoff seasons, four appearances in the Western Conference Finals and a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012 — Weaver played a significant role, helping to draft core players such as James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams.

Even after several roster changes and trades of superstars Kevin Durant, Westbrook and Paul George, the franchise stayed competitive and were among the top teams in the West this season before the season stopped because of COVID-19.

“He’s a good evaluator of talent,” said Fox Sports Detroit analyst Grant Long. “What’s been impressive to me is what he did at Oklahoma City and the with MVP players they’ve had leave, like Westbrook and Durant, they were still competitive in the Western Conference.”

Long was a TV analyst at the beginning of Weaver’s time with the Thunder and got a glimpse of what that front office did, with Presti at the helm and Weaver by his side.

The Pistons are looking to bring that same eye for talent, as they are in position to have a top-five pick in this year’s draft and are projected to have about $30 million in salary-cap space to try to restructure the roster. It’s a critical juncture in their long-term future

They’ve only made the playoffs twice in the past decade and turning things around will be at the top of Weaver’s priority list.

“It’s an honor for me to join a franchise with the history and tradition of the Detroit Pistons,” Weaver said in a team statement. “I’m excited for the challenge of building this team into a consistent winner and assembling the pieces to compete at a very high level. We’ll get to work right away, evaluating opportunities and installing systems that will make us all successful.”

One of the first items on the to-do list will be evaluating his staff and hiring at least one assistant general manager. Malik Rose, who had been focusing on player personnel, left this month and accepted a position with the NBA league office.

Weaver becomes the ninth Black general manager in the NBA. During a period of increased scrutiny on the racial composition of front offices amid recent protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, Weaver takes a significant position in the Pistons organization.


Troy Weaver resume:

— Oklahoma City: Vice president of basketball operations, 2019-20; vice president/assistant general manager, 2008-19

— Utah Jazz: Director of player personnel, 2007-08; head scout, 2004-07

— Syracuse University: Assistant coach, 2000-04

— New Mexico: Assistant coach, 1999-2000

— Pittsburgh: Assistant coach, 1996-99


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