It became clear within the last year (maybe before that really, but let’s not go there now) that it was time to break up the Detroit Pistons and start to rebuild. The roster that at one point was an Eastern Conference Finals fixture had been caught by father time.
But general manager Joe Dumars’ hands were tied. The team had been on the market since 2009 and there was little he could do because of it.
Now he loves his job again thanks to new owner Tom Gores, and you can expect to see a more active Pistons team, Dumars told the Detroit News.
“Sense of freedom — that’s a good term,” he said. “Listen, you do these jobs and you have to throw yourself into them completely 100 percent. You can’t do these jobs with any level of success if you’re 50 percent, 60 percent of what you can and can’t do.”
Dumars hasn’t made a trade since July 2009, the longest stretch in the league — and his longest since he was named Pistons president in 2000…. The Pistons had significant conversations at the trade deadline, most involving longtime Pistons Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. But the kind of deals they could explore was limited, due to the pending sale.
Gores was in the Pistons war room during the draft and was supportive of Dumars, who shifted gears when Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight fell down the board to them at No. 8. The plan had been to go with a big, but a number of teams had Knight rated in the top four in this draft and the Pistons could not pass him up.
Once the lockout ends, look for Dumars to be active in reshaping the Pistons roster. A process that should have started a while back, but now Dumars can finally get to work on it.
Tom Gores, who grew up in Michigan and is the billionaire founder of an equity firm, has reached a deal to purchase the Detroit Pistons.
Gores has been in negotiations to buy the team for months, and now Bernie Smilovitz at the Detroit NBC news affiliate broke the story and the Pistons have confirmed the sale has been agreed to.
The terms of the deal are not yet known, but it also includes the The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre. The team had been owned by Karen Davidson, who took control when her husband Bill died in 2009 and she had been trying to sell the team since then.
“We are pleased to welcome Tom Gores as the new owner of the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment,” Davidson said in a statement. “Just as my late husband, Bill Davidson, was the face of the Pistons, I am confident that Tom will bring the same energy, dedication and love to this organization.
“I look forward to seeing Tom follow in Bill’s footsteps, and carry on his legacy.”
Gores was born in Israel, was raised in Flint, went to Michigan State, used to sell computer equipment in Michigan. He eventually moved to California where he founded Platinum Equity, which is a power in the leveraged buyout business. At age 46, he is worth an estimated $2.4 billion.
The sale is something the Pistons have desperately needed. There is infighting between the coach and the players and a need for a real direction for the organization from the top down. Without that the team has not made trades and has been mired near the bottom of the standings.
This has happened twice now.
First the representatives of Pistons owner Karen Davidson — who has tried to sell the team for the past 15 months after the passing of her husband Bill — entered into exclusive negotiations with Mike Ilitch to sell the team. But after he got a closer look at the books his offer price came down and the talks fell apart.
Now Davidson and Citi Private Bank are negotiating with Tom Gores, and again the process seems to have stalled out. The Detroit News reports that things are not going well.
In fact, some close to the negotiators say that not only is no agreement imminent, Karen Davidson’s fatigue and frustration are growing.
One source close to Davidson last week said the process is so utterly problematic, she feels as though she has lost control of it. Her concern, in part, is that while Gores continually requires more information, too few details of an agreement are in place, despite more than two months of exclusive negotiations.
While the NBA is looking for a purchase price that reflects its valuation of the franchise, $420 million, the negotiations have yet to yield a path to that price or one more agreeable to Gores.
There are a lot of moving parts here — it’s not just the Pistons but also the Palace at Auburn Hills and some entertainment venues nearby that are involved in the sale.
But the problems with the sale leave the team in limbo.
The Pistons made no moves at the trade deadline. They have not moved players or fired coach John Kuester even though there is clearly friction between the two sides. Detroit the team needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up (although some pieces like Rodney Stuckey and Greg Monroe are in place) but that is not happening.
And until there is an invested owner, nothing much is going to happen. Which means nothing much is going to happen soon.