Jeff Bower

Suns Announce New Front Office Structure

The Suns have formally issued a press release announcing new job titles in their front office and confirming the hire of veteran executive Jeff Bower, which was reported earlier this week.

Since the dismissal of general manager Ryan McDonough last fall, James Jones and Trevor Bukstein had been running the front office in Phoenix as co-interim GMs. Jones and Bukstein will stick with the Suns going forward, but only Jones will remain in the GM position on a permanent basis. Bukstein, who is more of a scouting and salary-cap specialist, will assume the role of assistant GM.

As for Bower, he’ll be the Suns’ senior vice president of basketball operations. According to the Suns, Jones will oversee all basketball operations, with Bower and Bukstein reporting to him.

“James has demonstrated a remarkable ability to manage the day-to-day efforts of our front office while developing strong relationships with our players, coaches and those across our organization and league,” team owner Robert Sarver said in a statement. “Furthermore, he is instilling the same championship culture and standard that he experienced on multiple occasions as a player. I have the utmost confidence in James as the leader of our basketball operations moving forward, and we are aligned in the ultimate goal of one day bringing an NBA championship to Phoenix.”

It should be a busy offseason for the new front office in Phoenix — the Suns are in position to nab a top draft pick in the lottery, and will also have some cap flexibility, even if Tyler Johnson picks up his player option and Kelly Oubre is re-signed as a restricted free agent.

[RELATED: Suns expected to be active in free agency]

Of course, before addressing the roster in June and July, the Suns will need to make a decision on head coach Igor Kokoskov, who led the team to a disappointing 19-63 record in his first year in Phoenix. Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic questioned this week whether Kokoskov might be a one-and-done coach, but there has been no indication yet which way the Suns’ new decision-makers are leaning.

Jeff Bower Expected To Join Suns’ Front Office

APRIL 10: The Suns are expected to officially name Bower their senior VP of basketball operations within the next day or two, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.

APRIL 6: Former Pistons and Hornets GM Jeff Bower is being strongly considered for a front-office role with the Suns, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Bower may join the organization next week, Woj adds, as owner Robert Sarver has begun telling other candidates that they’re no longer being considered.

Bower appears headed for a “senior advising role,” with interim GM James Jones remaining in charge of the front office and retaining the power to make decisions. Jones has been part of the interview process, along with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, league sources tell Wojnarowski. The Suns have been operating without an official GM since dismissing Ryan McDonough in October before the season began.

Bower spent four years with the Pistons before he and coach/executive Stan Van Gundy were fired last May. He has been in the NBA for two decades and served as interim coach of the Hornets during the 2009/10 season.

Pistons Part Ways With GM Jeff Bower

The Pistons have decided to cut ties with GM Jeff Bower, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Bower was hired to be Stan Van Gundy’s right-hand man when he took charge four summers ago. Owner Tom Gores fired Van Gundy last month and is currently conducting a search for a coach and front-office executive.

Ed Stefanski was hired last week as a senior advisor in charge of overhauling the team’s basketball operations. Van Gundy served as both head coach and president of basketball operations but Gores now wants separation between the two jobs.

Bower had continued his duties after Van Gundy’s departure but his contract was expiring at the end of June and Gores had to make a decision whether to retain him or move on.

Searches to fill the coaching and front office vacancies are ongoing.

On the coaching front, the team has lined up or already interviewed TNT analyst Kenny Smith, Heat assistant Juwan Howard, Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, Michigan coach John Beilein and former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.

Nets assistant Trajan Langdon , TNT analyst Brent Barry, Hawks executive Malik Rose, Grizzlies assistant Tayshaun Prince and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups are among the candidates for the front-office job.

Pistons Notes: Bower, GM Search, Draft Workouts

Earlier today, the Pistons made their first major hire since Stan Van Gundy‘s departure, finalizing a three-year agreement that makes former Grizzlies executive Ed Stefanski a senior advisor in Detroit. As we relayed in that story, Stefanski will have a major role in hiring a new GM and head coach, but before he does that, he intends to assess the Pistons’ current front office group, led by general manager Jeff Bower.

According to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter links), Stefanski – who knows Bower well – plans to meet with the GM and other members of the club’s front office on Tuesday.

“I’m going to spend a lot of time with Jeff Bower,” Stefanski said, per Ellis. “I respect him and I want to talk to him and I want to find out what he thinks of the situation there. Obviously he’s been there for four years and he’s been right at the pulse of everything.”

As we wait to hear how that meeting goes, let’s round up a few more Pistons-related notes…

  • The Pistons are in the market for a young, rising executive for their GM job, according to Ellis, who writes that the ideal candidate would become “the face of the franchise for a decade.” Ellis reports that the Pistons would “love” to explore hiring Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver, but Weaver isn’t expected to be available.
  • While they’ll have plenty of competition, the Pistons figure to be in the market for an athletic, 3-and-D-type wing with the No. 42 pick in this year’s draft, says Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. That type of player is a hot commodity in today’s NBA, so the pickings may be slim for Detroit by the middle of the second round.
  • As Rod Beard of The Detroit News relays (via Twitter), the Pistons brought in six prospects for workouts today, auditioning Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure), Bogdan Bliznyuk (Eastern Washington), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Kelan Martin (Butler), Malik Pope (San Diego State), and Andrew Rowsey (Marquette).

Pistons Hire Ed Stefanski As Senior Advisor

The Pistons have begun to shape their new-look front office, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the team has hired Ed Stefanski as a senior advisor responsible for overhauling the team’s basketball operations. Stefanski, cited last week as a candidate to join the Pistons, had been working in Memphis as the Grizzlies’ executive VP of player personnel, and had a previous stint as the Sixers’ general manager.

The Pistons have confirmed the hiring in a press release.

According to Wojnarowski, Stefanski will take stock the Pistons’ current front office and will oversee the process of hiring a new general manager and head coach. Woj adds (via Twitter) that former Raptors coach Dwane Casey will be a primary target in Detroit’s search for Stan Van Gundy‘s replacement on the sidelines, with the Pistons intending to engage Casey “immediately.” Stefanski and Casey worked together in Toronto from 2011 to 2013.

Hiring Stefanski as an advisor responsible for leading the general manager search suggests that the Pistons may not formally name a president of basketball operations above the GM in the hierarchy, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. It’s not clear how much influence Stefanski, who received a three-year deal, will have over basketball decisions once a new GM is hired, but Wojnarowski notes that the former Grizzlies exec will report directly to owner Tom Gores.

Among Stefanski’s first tasks will be assessing the work of current Pistons executives, including GM Jeff Bower, whose contract expires on June 30. Stefanski will also focus on separating the basketball operations department from the coaching staff, Wojnarowski writes. With Van Gundy having previously held the head coach and president of basketball ops titles, those areas were intertwined during his tenure.

According to Wojnarowski, the Pistons will strongly consider hiring a “rising” executive for a GM-type role, with Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon considered a serious candidate for such a position. Per Woj, TNT analyst Brent Barry remains a frontrunner for a complementary job in Detroit’s front office. Both Wojnarowski and Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) also mention Tayshaun Prince as a strong candidate to join the Pistons’ management group.

The Pistons were also said to be impressed by Shane Battier after interviewing the Heat executive, though it’s not clear how he’d fit into the team’s front office picture.

Central Notes: Brown, Pistons, Gilbert

In some relatively serious off the court news, Bucks’ rookie Sterling Brown plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department as a result of being tased and arrested in January, reports Gina Barton and Ashley Lutheran of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The police released the body cam footage of the incident during a press conference earlier this evening, and as one can see, the video doesn’t really demonstrate the Bucks’ guard acting wrongfully in any way, with Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett even going as far as saying the officer’s actions against Brown made him uneasy.

“It was a disturbing video when I saw it, and I know that the police chief (Morales) feels the same way,” Barrett said yesterday. “And I don’t know exactly what actions his department is going to take, but it is disconcerting to see some of the actions in that video.”

Brown and the Bucks have since released statements, with Brown saying, in part:

My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn’t happen to anybody. What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by the unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tased, and then unlawfully booked. This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.

During today’s conference, police chief Alfonso Morales said that the officers involved “acted inappropriately” and “were recently disciplined,” but did not take any questions from reporters.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Amid a time of uncertainty, Pistons’ general manager Jeff Bower continues to operate business as usual, taking control of the front office until told otherwise, reports Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Bower’s contract expires on June 30, and the team is considering a pool of candidates to run the front office.
  • One silver lining of the Cavaliers’ relative struggles this postseason is more profit for owner Dan Gilbert, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The Cavs have already played eight home games this postseason, matching their total from all of last year’s playoffs. Home playoff games can net a team upwards of $3MM per contest.
  • In other Pistons news, Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets that coach of the year candidate Dwane Casey is highly likely to be considered for the team’s open head coaching vacancy, while a decision on the front office should come in early June.

Latest On Pistons’ GM/Front Office Search

The Pistons continue to conduct separate searches for a new head coach and a new head of basketball operations, and while it’s possible they’ll hire a coach sooner rather than later, they prefer to address their front office opening first. That would allow the new head of basketball operations to have a say in the head coaching hire.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provides an update on Detroit’s front office search today, reporting (via Twitter) that NBA executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, Grizzlies executive VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski, Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, and Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon are among the candidates the Pistons are eyeing to run their basketball operations department. Current GM Jeff Bower also remains a candidate to be promoted, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).

Most of those executives have received consideration for top front office jobs in the recent past. Rosas, for instance, was cited as a contender for the Hornets’ GM opening this spring. Stefanski was said to be in the mix for the Bucks’ GM vacancy last summer, while Langdon received consideration for the Hawks job around the same time.

In addition to considering those aforementioned candidates for their top basketball operations job, the Pistons are also targeting TNT analyst Brent Barry and Heat director of basketball development and analytics Shane Battier for front office roles, according to Wojnarowski.

Although Bower is currently running the Pistons’ basketball operations department, his contract is set to expire on June 30, so Detroit could end up making several new hires this spring. Should Bower depart, the Pistons may hire a new president of basketball operations, a new GM, and a new head coach.

Pistons Notes: Van Gundy, Bower, Billups, More

In the wake of his dismissal by the Pistons on Monday, Stan Van Gundy indicated that he wouldn’t dismiss the idea of returning to coaching in “the right situation.” He reiterated that stance in a text message to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel, but stressed that his interest in landing another job with an NBA team doesn’t extend beyond coaching.

“[I’m] not interested in a front office role,” Van Gundy wrote.

Let’s round up a few more notes on the Pistons, with a focus on SVG…

  • A source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that GM Jeff Bower, whose contract ends on June 30, will run the front office on an interim basis. Only one member of the coaching staff and front office – assistant coach Rex Walters – has a contract that extends past June 30, according to Ellis.
  • Multiple sources tell Ellis – within that same story – that it wasn’t quite right to say Van Gundy was resisting a change to his role, as ESPN reported last week, since specific changes hadn’t yet been discussed. For his part, SVG said on Monday that he would’ve been interested in continuing to coach the Pistons without the president of basketball operations title.
  • Four years after they hired Van Gundy to run the show in Detroit, the Pistons should be able to make a stronger pitch to front office and coaching candidates this time around, in the view of Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. As Langlois notes, in 2014, the Pistons were coming off a five-year run in which they hadn’t surpassed the 30-win mark — the current squad has immediate playoff potential.
  • The Pistons’ decision to wait until nearly four weeks after the 2017/18 regular season ended to move on from Van Gundy is a reflection of the club’s poor leadership at the top, says Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports.
  • Ansar Khan of MLive.com explores whether hiring Chauncey Billups to a key front office role is the right move for the Pistons.

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).

Central Notes: Pistons, T. Young, Free Agents, Bucks

If the Pistons are going to make changes to their coaching staff or front office, they will probably happen in the next 10 days, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Preparation for the draft begins to intensify with the lottery on May 15, followed by the opening of the combine two days later. The Pistons will want to have their management issues resolved by then, even though their first-rounder is headed to the Clippers without some lottery luck.

GM Jeff Bower met with majority owner Tom Gores on Thursday, Ellis adds, amid reports that structural changes are being considered to the front office. Bower and coach/president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy, who also met with Gores this week, are both entering the final year of their contracts.

Ellis speculates that the longer the situation drags on, the less likely it is that Van Gundy returns for another season. He notes that Gores is unhappy about the way the team has managed its salary cap, particularly with generous contracts for role players Jon Leuer [four years, $42 million] and  Langston Galloway [three years, $21 million].

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Watching the Eastern semifinals has been a painful experience for Thaddeus Young and his Pacers teammates, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The Indiana players are still reeling after dropping a tough seven-game series to the Cavaliers, and they believe they could be on their way to the conference finals if they had gotten by Cleveland. Young adds that he hasn’t decided whether to opt out of a $13,764,045 salary for next season, but he believes the Pacers are headed for even better things. “Man, I think the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “As a team, we’re already pretty good, but I think we’ll be so much better entering next season because we’ll all have another year of experience under our belt and we won’t be a new-look team that just got together anymore.”
  • The Pacers need to add a 3-point shooter in free agency, observes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, who examines potential targets for this summer. Indiana should have roughly $10MM to spend, even if Young opts in, which could be enough to land Wayne Ellington, Joe Harris or Marco Belinelli.
  • The Bucks are in position to trim some money from their roster heading into free agency, according to Fox Sports Wisconsin. Brandon Jennings [$2,222,803], Tyler Zeller [$1,933,941] and Malcolm Brogdon [$1,544,951] all have non-guaranteed contracts for next season, although Brogdon, a former Rookie of the Year, is expected to be brought back.