AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy introduced his new general manager Wednesday and then tried to quell any concerns over how the Detroit Pistons would distribute power within their front office.
“I think the ‘final decision’ thing gets overblown,” Van Gundy said. “What we want is a collaborative process with a lot of hard-working, intelligent people, who are thinking, and then use the process to come to a decision.”
Jeff Bower is now the team’s general manager, after Van Gundy was hired as coach and team president last month. They both appeared at a news conference, then were available for more informal interviews afterward. Van Gundy was surrounded by reporters almost immediately, and it’s clear that he’s still the face of the franchise’s next big effort to return to relevance.
But Bower brings plenty of experience at the NBA level to his new job. He was the coach at Marist College last season, but he’s been a general manager and coach in the pros with New Orleans.
“He’s done almost everything at the NBA level,” Van Gundy said. “He’s been an assistant coach, he’s been a head coach, he’s been a scout, he’s been an assistant general manager, he’s been a general manager, so he’s got an experience that really allows him to know the NBA on every level of what goes on in terms of basketball operations.”
Bower said his coaching experience helps shape the way he evaluates talent.
“Being able to see how players change and the impact that you can have on a player’s game — always kind of kept that thought process in mind, that you can improve players, and that players can get better,” Bower said.
Bower was the general manager of the Charlotte-New Orleans Hornets from 2001-03 and again from 2005-10. He also coached the team in 2009-10, going 34-39.
Bower has also been an assistant coach at Penn State and Marist. Van Gundy said their relationship dates to when Bower was an assistant at Marist and Van Gundy was an assistant at Fordham.
“I’ve always had a tremendous respect for people who have really had to work their way up the ladder,” Van Gundy said.
Detroit went 29-53 last season, missing the playoffs for a fifth straight year. That disappointing performance helped lead to the end of Joe Dumars’ tenure as team president.
Van Gundy said he felt the players could have performed better last season, and Detroit does have a young standout to build around in big man Andre Drummond. Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent, so much of the offseason outlook may depend on whether he returns to the Pistons.
Detroit does not have a first-round draft pick. That selection was lost because of a trade made by the previous front office, but Bower is hopeful the Pistons can improve themselves in the draft anyway.
“The 38th pick can be a pick of value,” Bower said. “Although it’s not a first-round pick, we would hope to be able to dig in and find a prospect that can provide value to the team and to the organization.”