Arn Tellem

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Morris, Wood, Sixers

The Pistons’ top brass is expected to meet in Los Angeles today to discuss ways to improve the team, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Owner Tom Gores, coach Dwane Casey, senior adviser Ed Stefanski and vice chairman Arn Tellem will discuss how to revive the playoff hopes of the floundering team and provide star forward Blake Griffin with a better supporting cast. Detroit got off to a 13-7 start but has lost 16 of its last 20 games.  A point guard and a wing player capable of creating offense top the wish list but the team’s cap situation makes it difficult to swing a deal, Ellis continues. The roster is littered with bad contracts and injury-prone players and the team is just under the luxury tax line, Ellis adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Tempers flared between Celtics players Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown during a second-quarter timeout on Thursday but GM Danny Ainge is downplaying the incident. The duo exchanged words and Morris, who apparently told Brown to play harder, shoved the swingman before Marcus Smart separated them, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Ainge told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe the altercation was no big deal. “It’s two good kids that are competitive,” he said. “They both want the same thing. Emotions happen in games, and I’m not worried about it.”
  • Bucks big man Christian Wood is relieved that the team guaranteed his salary for the remainder of the season, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. His $1,512,601 salary became guaranteed on Thursday. He has a $1,645,357 non-guaranteed salary for next season. The 6’10” Wood has appeared in six games with Milwaukee while biding most of his time in the G League. “It’s real nice,” Wood said. “I talked to (GM) Jon (Horst) before the deadline passed and he said my time is going to come, I’ve just got to keep working, keep staying with the program and keep doing everything I’m supposed to do. He thinks I’m a good fit for this team.”
  • The 76ers named Annelie Schmittel as the team’s VP of player development, according to a team press release. She will be responsible for creating, managing and overseeing the holistic development and implementation of programs that support professional and personal growth of players, staff and families. She spent the last three seasons with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

And-Ones: All-Star Game, White, Holland, Carmelo

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he would discuss holding a future All-Star Game in the city of Detroit with Arn Tellem, the vice-chairman of the Pistons, Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News reports. The Pistons are playing their second season at Little Caesars Arena, which is also the home of the NHL’s Red Wings. “I’m sure we’ll be talking about it,” Silver said during a business trip to the city. The state of Michigan hasn’t seen an All-Star Game since 1979, when it was held in the Pontiac Silverdome. The Pistons’ former home, The Palace of Auburn Hills, never hosted the event.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Former Heat and Cavaliers big man Okaro White is close to signing with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to a report which was relayed by Sam Amico. White appeared in six games with Miami last season after seeing action in 35 games with the Heat the previous season. The Cavaliers signed him to 10-day contracts last season but he didn’t play. He was waived by Cleveland in August and then by the Spurs in October after joining them for training camp.
  • The G League’s Austin Spurs acquired the returning rights to guard John Holland and a 2019 second-round pick from the Canton Charge, the Cavs’ affiliate, in exchange for small forward Jaron Blossomgame, according to a press release from the G League club. Holland had a two-way contract with the Cavaliers last season and played 24 games, posting an average of 2.3 PPG in 7.3 MPG. Holland appeared in one game this season with the Cavaliers before being waived on November 9th. Blossomgame, the Spurs’ second-round pick in 2017, spent the last two seasons with Austin but has yet to make his NBA debut.
  • The Warriors, Sixers, Lakers and Pelicans are the most likely landing spots for Carmelo Anthony once he’s waived by the Rockets, Matt Eppers of USA Today opines. Anthony could help each of those teams to varying degrees, mainly as a second-unit player.

Pistons Seek Experienced Exec To Replace Van Gundy

Former NBA agent and current franchise chairman Arn Tellem will be involved in the process and could have an expanded role in business operations but is not a candidate to replace Van Gundy as president or Jeff Bower as GM, Wojnarowski continues. Bower’s continuing role was apparently the main point of contention between Gores and Van Gundy, with Gores pushing for front-office changes and Van Gundy offering resistance.

Bower, who has run the day-to-day operations since Van Gundy took over, met separately with Gores last week, Wojnarowski adds. Like Van Gundy, he was also entering the final year of his five-year contract.

Brent Barry, currently a broadcaster with TNT, is a candidate for a front office role but it’s unlikely he would be hired to run the show, given Gores’ desire to hire a more experienced hand, according to Wojnarowski. The Warriors were interested in hiring Barry to a front office position last summer but his TV commitments prevented him from making the move, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports. Once Barry’s TV obligations are fulfilled, the Pistons will have competition for his services, Lowe adds (Twitter link).

Pistons Have Interest In Billups For Front Office Role?

12:55pm: In the wake of Stein’s report, Billups said he’d “never push for a job with any NBA franchise that is not open,” while Pistons ownership and Platinum Equity spokesman Mark Barnhill simply called the report “false” (Twitter links via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press).

That’s no surprise, since – as Billups notes – those front office jobs aren’t currently open, so the team isn’t about to confirm its interest in other candidates.

12:05pm: The Pistons have expressed interest in hiring former All-Star guard Chauncey Billups for a basketball operations role, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). According to Stein, Detroit is mulling the idea of having Billups work in tandem with Arn Tellem in a “totally revamped” front office.

Currently, Stan Van Gundy serves as both the head coach and the president of basketball operations in Detroit, with Jeff Bower handling day-to-day operations as the Pistons’ general manager. Tellem, a longtime agent, is the team’s vice chairman.

However, with the Pistons almost certain to miss the playoffs despite making a big midseason splash for Blake Griffin, a front office shakeup could be coming this offseason. There have been rumblings about the possibility of Tellem moving from the business side to the basketball side, and Billups would be a logical target to work with him, given his history with the Pistons as a player.

While Billups’ résumé for a top front office job may be somewhat lacking, he’s viewed as a future executive, and a pairing with an industry veteran like Tellem might be a nice fit. Billups nearly landed in Cleveland last summer when the Cavaliers targeted him as David Griffin‘s replacement. He ultimately withdrew from consideration for that GM job, with a below-market offer reportedly playing a part in his decision.

If the Pistons are to shake up their front office, it’s not clear whether Van Gundy would remain with the organization. Last year, Doc Rivers and Mike Budenholzer continued to coach the Clippers and Hawks, respectively, despite having their president of basketball operations titles removed. Theoretically, the Pistons could do the same thing with Van Gundy in the hopes that he could get better results from the club when he’s focused exclusively on coaching. It’s not clear if both sides would be on board with that arrangement though.

Agent Rob Pelinka Frontrunner For Lakers’ GM Job

With general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss having been relieved of their duties in the Lakers’ front office, new president of basketball operations Magic Johnson will call the shots in L.A. However, the club remains on the lookout for a new GM, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (Twitter links), longtime player agent Rob Pelinka has emerged as a frontrunner for the position.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne first reported (via Twitter) that Pelinka, who represents Kobe Bryant and many current NBA players, was on the Lakers’ radar for a front office role. If the team decides to hire Pelinka, he would have to divest himself of his representation business, which would take some time, as Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter).

Several other rumors are swirling as the Lakers’ front office undergoes major changes, so let’s round them up…

  • Assuming the Lakers haven’t already decided on Pelinka, there are a number of other potential candidates believed to be on their radar, per Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter links). According to Amick, Blazers GM Neil Olshey, former Cavs GM Chris Grant, Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, and Pacers VP of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie are worth keeping an eye on.
  • ESPN’s Marc Stein reports (via Twitter) that another veteran player agent – Arn Tellem – is also said to be a potential target for the Lakers. However, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets, Tellem – who formerly represented Kobe Bryant – has been very involved in the Pistons‘ move to downtown Detroit and seems unlikely to bolt in the middle of that project.
  • Magic Johnson has previously talked about wanting Bryant to have a role in the Lakers’ front office. Shelburne tweets that the future Hall-of-Famer is “happy doing what he’s doing,” but would be available to the organization if needed.
  • Jerry West hasn’t been approached by the Lakers about a role in the team’s front office, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. According to Ding (via Twitter), West won’t be a part of the club’s new management group.
  • According to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News (Twitter links), one reason the Warriors were motivated to give GM Bob Myers a promotion and a raise last summer was to avoid making him a target for the Lakers.

Pistons Notes: New Arena Details, All-Star Game Chances

The Pistons‘ new arena deal will involve asking for up to $34.5MM in taxpayer-backed bonds, Louis Aguilar and Ian Thibodeau of The Detroit News report in a piece that includes the team’s 45 page agreement with the City Of Detroit. The franchise has also agreed to back up to $55MM in bonds as long as a “community center/practice facility” is built as well. The site of the proposed facility isn’t determined yet. According to an analysis conducted by the University of Michigan, the economic impact of the move is $596.2MM. That figure includes renovations to the new arena, the building of the practice facility and the cost of relocation for Pistons’ employees.

The Pistons have played at The Palace, which will remain open for concerts, since 1988. With the move, Detroit will have all four major sports playing within blocks of each other in its downtown.

Here’s more from Detroit

  • Owner Tom Gores hired sports agent/power broker Arn Tellem back in 2015 to start coordinating the effort to move the Pistons back downtown, Tony Paul of The Detroit News writes. Tellem is excited to be part of the movement. “We want to be all in on Detroit,” Tellem said. “We want to do right by the city and community here.” Tellem added that he believes as many as 2,000 jobs could be created by the move.
  • Commissioner Adam Silver said the team’s move to downtown has increased the city’s chances of getting an All-Star Game in the not-so distant future, Paul relays in the same piece. The Palace at Auburn Hills never hosted an All-Star Game.
  • The Pistons will also move their corporate office to downtown, Paul reports in the same piece.
  • Not all fans are thrilled about the relocation, Paul and James Hawkins of The Detroit News write in a collaborative piece. Proponents of the move cite the additional pregame and postgame opportunities, while those opposed to it say the traffic is going to be a major problem.


Central Notes: Noah, Tellem, LeBron, Harris

Joakim Noah set the record straight Friday, telling reporters that he didn’t ask Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to remove him from the starting lineup. Hoiberg indicated in an interview with Grantland’s Zach Lowe that Noah had done so, as Nick Friedell of and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relay (Twitter links).

“I never said I want to come off the bench,” Noah said. “I said I will do what’s best for the team.”

The coach didn’t directly say that Noah had requested the move, though that was the interpretation that Lowe took from the remark (Twitter link). In any case, Noah, a 2016 free agent, obviously would prefer to start, but in spite of the benching and Hoiberg’s comment, he isn’t upset with the coach, Johnson notes (All Twitter links). “The truth is I think I’m more effective playing the 5. And Pau [Gasol] is the same. And we have two very good 4s. So this makes sense,” Noah also said. See more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons owner Tom Gores continues to enthusiastically support coach/executive Stan Van Gundy, and he also suggested that owners around the league regard the addition of former agent Arn Tellem as a coup, citing comments his fellow owners made to him, notes Keith Langlois of Tellem became vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Pistons, over the offseason. “Most of the owners were wondering, how the heck did we get Arn? He lives in great weather, he’s probably the most renowned NBA agent ever, he knows everybody in basketball – and we convinced him to come to Detroit,” Gores said. “That was the good secret in the room. ‘How the hell did you do that, Tom?”
  • The upgrades the Cavs made to their bench during the offseason stand to give LeBron James a better chance to rest, but he still expects to play in 82 games after appearing in only 69 last year, observes Sam Amico of
  • The Cavs appear to be questioning the potential of Joe Harris after an up-and-down preseason, Amico adds in the same piece. Harris has a fully guaranteed deal for this season, but next season’s salary is non-guaranteed.

And-Ones: Colangelo, Timberwolves, Leonard

Jerry Colangelo will step down as chairman of USA Basketball after the 2020 Olympics, he confirms to TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes about it in his Morning Tip column for Colangelo nonetheless committed to remain in his job that long to help persuade Gregg Popovich to take over as Team USA head coach, Aldridge notes. Popovich is also signed only through 2020, though it’s unclear if he’s open to coaching the team beyond then. “For sure, I’m done in ’20,” Colangelo said. “There’s an end date.”

In other news around the league:

  • The Timberwolves spoke with league officials about postponing Wednesday’s season opener against the Lakers after coach Flip Saunders succumbed to complications from cancer treatments on Sunday, but the talks never reached a serious stage, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. The sorrowful Timberwolves know it will be difficult to play so soon after their coach’s untimely death, Zgoda adds. “We’re definitely in a tough spot, but we’re gonna do the best we can,” veteran small forward Tayshaun Prince said.
  • The Trail Blazers have not engaged in extension talks with center Meyers Leonard, according to Jason Quick of CSNNW.comNeil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, delayed the process because he wanted to avoid drawn-out negotiations with Leonard’s agent Aaron Mintz, Quick continues. The Blazers can preserve cap space for next summer by putting off the extension, Quick points out, because the first year of his salary would count against the cap if they sign him before the Nov. 2nd deadline.
  • Owners are looking to former agent Arn Tellem, who joined the Pistons organization as an executive this year, for perspective as they prepare to negotiate on labor issues with the players, reports Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Tellem, who is the vice chairman of the Palace Sports and Entertainment group that controls the Pistons, addressed owners at last week’s Board of Governors meeting.

Central Notes: Thompson, Hammond, Tellem

Tristan Thompson and fellow Rich Paul client Norris Cole probably need to sign their qualifying offers to hit unrestricted free agency next summer if each is to truly get the most out of his earning potential, opines Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Kyler sees signed qualifying offers as the most likely outcome for both. Still, the Basketball Insiders scribe doesn’t think that necessarily means they won’t end up re-signing with their respective teams in 2016, even though Paul has said that Thompson wouldn’t re-sign with the Cavs next year if he took his qualifying offer this year. See more news on Cleveland and the rest of the Central Division here:

  • Bucks GM John Hammond deserves to stick around after positioning the team for a continued climb up the Eastern Conference standings, so Monday’s extension was the right move for Milwaukee, argues Sekou Smith of Hammond, who’s been in his job since April 2008, is No. 9 on the list of the longest-tenured primary basketball executives that I compiled earlier today.
  • Keith Langlois of details the agenda for Arn Tellem, who joined the Pistons organization as vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment this summer. Tellem is close with GM Jeff Bower, but the former super-agent’s new job will chiefly involve community outreach.
  • Cavs draft-and-stash prospect Edin Bavcic has signed with Sopron of Hungary, agent Dragan Jankovski of the BeoBasket agency revealed on Twitter (hat tip to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). A 2006 draftee, he seems unlikely to ever play in the NBA, though Cleveland did sign 2008 draftee Sasha Kaun to his first NBA contract just last week.

Central Notes: Tellem, Thompson, Parker

Arn Tellem, who was recently hired as the new vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, is also likely to become a minority owner of the Pistons by the year’s end, writes Tom Walsh of The Detroit Free Press. This was one of the factors that motivated Tellem to leave the Wasserman Media Group, Walsh adds. “I’m coming here to make a difference,” Tellem said. “If it was just limited to basketball, it would not be enough of a motivation to come and do it, but to have an involvement from an ownership level in basketball and the business and the community and see where we can make a difference and contribute to what’s going on here in Detroit and Michigan.

Regarding a potential ownership stake in he franchise, Tellem said, “That was part of the plan when I came in. My hope is now that by the end of the year, we’re going to hopefully have a piece of the action. [Owner] Tom’s [Gores] desire is to have this team long-term for him and his family and to really accomplish a lot here — not only winning basketball games, but to make a difference in the community here.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • In move that doesn’t come as a shock, restricted free agent Tristan Thompson won’t be attending the pre-training camp workouts that LeBron James has organized for the Cavaliers in Miami, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group notes. Thompson, who has reportedly rejected a five-year, $80MM contract offer from the Cavaliers, is adamant that he will not put pen to paper on a new pact unless it is a maximum salary deal and is contemplating signing his one-year qualifying offer worth $6,777,589 if a deal can’t be worked out between the two sides.
  • Bucks forward Jabari Parker‘s rehab from a torn ACL suffered 25 games into the 2014/15 campaign is going well, though it is unclear if he will be at full strength when the regular season tips off, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes. But even if Parker is close to 100%, the team intends to be protective of the second-year player, Blancarte adds. “We’re going to be very conservative with him,” GM John Hammond said. “If we think he’s capable of playing 20, we’ll maybe play him 10 minutes. If we think he can play a back-to-back, we’ll wait on the back-to-back. Whatever it is, we’re going to be very cautious as he moves forward because of the magnitude of who he can be and who we hope he can be for our organization going forward.