Tom Gores is now finally, officially, the owner of the Detroit Pistons.
The terms of the sale had been in place a couple months but details still had to be finalized. They have been now. David Stern announced before Game 1 of the NBA finals the sale of the franchise to Gores and his equity firm had been approved by the Board of Governors (the other owners).
“We are delighted that the NBA’s Board of Governors approved Tom Gores’ purchase of majority ownership of the Pistons,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “We look forward to the Pistons’ continued growth, both on and off the court, under his leadership.”
The rest of us look forward to something now happening regarding coach John Kuester.
Gores was born in Israel, was raised in Flint, Michigan, went to Michigan State, and started out selling computers in the state. 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.
It is Gores and Platinum Equity that purchased the team as well as 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. The price is estimated to be more than $400 million.
Pretty much every talent evaluator, general manager and coach not in the playoffs is in Chicago right now for the NBA’s Draft Combine.
Not the Piston’s embattled coach John Kuester. Which seems to speak volumes to his status with the franchise.
But Kuester told the Detroit News he will be running individual workouts heading up to the draft. Those will start over the next few weeks, giving teams considering a player a closer look at what he can do.
That certainly doesn’t mean his status with the team is safe, especially once the sale of the Pistons to Tom Gores goes through. But the sale of a team is a tedious, long process and draft preparations cannot wait. So Kuester will be around, but likely have little if any input in who the Pistons select.
The Pistons have picks No. 8 and 33 in the draft.
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.