May 25, 2024

Detroit Pistons’ president of basketball operations search: The latest we’re hearing


CHICAGO — The Detroit Pistons could come to a hiring decision on their president of basketball operations within the next few weeks, league sources tell The Athletic.

Whomever the Pistons tab for the position won’t have the benefit of a top-three pick at their disposal, as the organization fell to No. 5 for the third straight year during Sunday’s NBA Lottery. But even so, Detroit has been speaking to some promising candidates to fill the role, which has been vacant since 2018.

Part of the hold up, league sources say, is that Detroit appears interested in making a run at Minnesota Timberwolves head executive Tim Connelly, whose team is in the midst of a second-round playoff matchup with Connelly’s former team, the defending-champion Denver Nuggets.

Whether or not Connelly returns to the Timberwolves, league sources say he is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract. It seems likely that Connelly will return to Minnesota, but if Pistons owner Tom Gores is willing to offer something like $15 million annually, that could be enough to pry him away.

The Pistons were denied permission to interview Milwaukee’s Jon Horst last week, league and team sources tell The Athletic. It is possible that the Bucks were posturing to get assets from Detroit in order to take Horst, who signed a multi-year deal with Milwaukee in 2021. However, the Pistons have decided to move on to other candidates.

New Orleans’ Trajan Langdon, Dallas’ Dennis Lindsey and Chicago’s Marc Eversley, among others, have established themselves as viable targets for the role, league sources tell The Athletic.

Langdon was a scout for the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-15 before becoming the assistant general manager of the Brooklyn Nets in 2016. He held that role through 2019 until he became the general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans, where he has helped build the Pelicans into one of the more intriguing young teams.

Lindsey is currently in an advisory role with the Dallas Mavericks. He held several roles with the Utah Jazz from 2012 to 2021, including general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations.

Eversley, the general manager of the Chicago Bulls, was on the Pistons’ radar in 2020 before they hired general manager Troy Weaver. Eversley has worked in NBA front offices for over 15 years, including stops in Toronto, Washington and Philadelphia before Chicago.

Could the No. 5 pick be more valuable than originally thought?

The Pistons dropped as far as possible in one of the weaker draft classes in recent memory. However, because of the jumble of prospects at the top, could the No. 5 pick be a little more valuable than originally thought?

In talking to people around the league prior to the NBA Lottery, it was believed that the No. 5 pick in this draft would be equivalent to the ninth through 12th pick in a normal class. While that feels right, it should be noted that because there aren’t clear-cut prospect tiers this time around, teams could covet the fifth pick over, say, the second or third pick. Of course, that is working under the assumption that there will be a few teams with interest in moving up. In talking to people around the league after the Pistons’ fate was revealed, a few of them said they could see the No. 5 pick being decently valued if teams do, in fact, like a prospect or two enough to move up.

Let me explain.

There is a world where front office and evaluators see the prospects expected to go in the top five or seven all in the same tier or with very little separation. The difference in rookie pay between the No. 1 and No. 2 picks vs. the No. 5 pick is pretty significant. For example, 2023 No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama will make between $12 million and $16 million annually for the remainder of his rookie deal. No. 2 pick Scoot Henderson made $9.7 million his first year and will make between $10 and $13 million yearly from next season on. Ausar Thompson, who the Pistons took at No. 5 in 2023, made $7.9 million this past season and will make between $8.3 million and $11.1 million annually during the duration of his rookie deal. So, there is a difference of a few million dollars when examining the difference in rookie contracts based on where they’re picked.

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that a team that wants to move up believes it could get the best player in the 2024 NBA Draft at No. 5 instead of at No. 2 or No. 3 — and maybe even No. 1 — while saving money in the process.

Just something to chew on.

(Top photo of Timberwolves exec Tim Connelly: David Sherman / NBAE via Getty Images)



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