June 23, 2024

Pistons part ways with GM Troy Weaver; in talks with Pelicans executive Michael Blackstone: Sources

The first domino in the Trajan Langdon era of Pistons basketball has fallen. Detroit and general manager Troy Weaver have decided to part ways, team and league sources confirmed to The Athletic Friday.

The Pistons are in serious talks to hire Pelicans executive Michael Blackstone as the No. 2 decision-maker under Langdon in Detroit’s front office, league sources said. Blackstone has served as the Pelicans’ VP of basketball administration over the last several seasons. He also spent time as an assistant GM with the Hawks and executive director of basketball operations with the Cavaliers.

The decision to let Weaver go comes a week after the Pistons hired Langdon to be their new president of basketball operations, giving him free rein to make big changes to both the front office and coaching staff, with owner Tom Gores telling him that money is no object, per team sources.

Detroit did offer Weaver, who still has years left on his contract, an off-site scouting role to remain with the organization in a much smaller capacity, but he declined the position, per sources.

Weaver took over as general manager of the Pistons in 2020, being asked to help the franchise embark on a complete, teardown rebuild. Weaver, who was previously an assistant general manager in Oklahoma City, was widely recognized around the league as a premier talent evaluator.

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While in Detroit, Weaver’s draft evaluations were hit or miss. The franchise was fortunate enough to land the No. 1 pick in 2021 and selected Cade Cunningham, who had a breakout year after missing all but 12 games his sophomore year due to injury. Isaiah Stewart was a good find outside of the lottery in 2020. Players like Ausar Thompson, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Marcus Sasser all have potential, but are still in the early stages of development. Then there was the selection of Killian Hayes at No. 7 overall in 2020. Detroit took the point guard over Tyrese Haliburton. Hayes, who has one of the worst true-shooting percentages in NBA history (min. 5000 minutes played), was waived in the middle of this past season after starting 145 games over four seasons. Weaver also drafted Saddiq Bey but traded him for James Wiseman two seasons ago. The Pistons also didn’t hit on any second-round picks during the Weaver era.

Ultimately, Weaver’s downfall in Detroit was due to the lack of asset management and team building. Most rebuilding teams use cap space to take on bad contracts to get extra first-round picks. The Pistons didn’t go that route. Instead, they signed and traded for the likes of Jerami Grant, Bojan Bogdanović and Alec Burks, all of whom are good players, but Weaver and Co. held onto them too long and their values dropped.

As for team building, Detroit does have several promising young players on its roster, but many haven’t yet developed the way they need to in order to be a competitive team night in and night out. Over the last few seasons, Detroit’s rosters have routinely lacked proven shooting and reliable wing defense. Players like Bogdanović could shoot but struggled defensively, while someone like Thompson could defend right away at an NBA level but has a lot of work to do on his shot. The roster balance was not ideal.

Weaver does leave the organization with over $60 million in cap space on his way out of the door, giving the Pistons and Langdon avenues to improve the roster sooner rather than later if they choose to speed up the rebuilding process.

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(Photo: Kyle Terada / USA Today)