Trajan Langdon

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.

Latest On Pistons’ Front Office Search

The Pistons’ head coaching search appears to be in full swing, with reports on Wednesday indicating that the team intends to interview TNT analyst Kenny Smith, Heat assistant Juwan Howard, Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, and former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. In addition to deciding on a new head coach though, the club will need to make at least one hire in its front office to replace former president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy.

Although Heat executive Shane Battier withdrew from consideration for a top front office job in Detroit earlier this week, the Pistons are eyeing several other candidates. Battier’s decision may clear a path for Nets assistant Trajan Langdon to land in Detroit, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who notes that Langdon has already interviewed with the Pistons.

According to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link), it sounds as if Langdon and TNT analyst Brent Barry will meet with the Pistons this week to discuss potential front office roles. Both candidates have already spoken to the team, with Ellis noting that Barry impressed the Pistons in previous discussions.

Ellis also reports (via Twitter) that Hawks executive Malik Rose is another name to add to the Pistons’ list of candidates. Rose, who currently holds the title of manager of basketball operations in Atlanta, serves as the GM of the Erie BayHawks, the Hawks’ G League affiliate. In his first season in that role, Rose was named the NBAGL Executive of the Year.

Langdon, Barry, and Rose don’t have any experience running an NBA team, but the Pistons are said to be seeking a young, rising executive who would be capable of shaping the team for years to come. Those three candidates, who are all in their 40s, could fit that bill. Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups are among the other front office options reportedly being considered by the Pistons.

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.

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.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Walker, Wizards

The Hawks‘ list of potential general manager candidates continues to grow, with Zach Klein of Channel 2 Sports in Atlanta reporting that the club is interested in speaking with Nets executive Trajan Langdon about the opening. Langdon, who currently serves as an assistant GM in Brooklyn under Sean Marks, was identified by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz earlier this year as a front office “prospect” to watch. However, league insiders told Arnovitz at the time that Langdon may still need a few seasons with the Nets before he becomes a legit candidate to run an NBA front office.

[RELATED: Latest on Hawks’ front office search]

As we wait to see if Atlanta gets the opportunity to talk to Langdon, let’s round up a few more notes and rumors out of the Southeast…

And-Ones: Durant, Front Offices, Combine

Kevin Durant believes it’s unfair to criticize the top players for sitting out games, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com relays. “The truth about it is, it’s only for a couple of players in the league,” Durant told Haynes. “They don’t care if the 13th man on the bench rests. It’s only for like [LeBron James], [Stephen Curry], [James Harden], [Russell Westbrook]. It’s only for like five players. So you want a rule just for those five players?”

“It’s hard for you to just craft a rule out for the top players. I’ve seen guys that’s not even in the playoffs resting, sitting out for the rest of the season. And it’s nothing against those guys. I’m not trying to bash them or anything. [Suns center] Tyson Chandler is out. They got him sitting out for the rest of the year. I’m sure he wants to play, but they’re not saying anything about Tyson Chandler, so it’s hard for me to really talk about this. It’s not a league-wide rule. It’s not a league-wide concern.”

Durant added that he empathizes with fans who miss out on seeing their favorite player when they come to the arena. “I see it from the fans’ perspective and the players’ perspective,” Durant said. “I’m caught right in the middle.”

While the 2013/14 league MVP feels bad for those fans who show up the arena, he gives the situation some perspective.

“On the other hand, there’s a lot of people that can’t even afford tickets to the game. So, I kind of feel sorry for you, but then I don’t when I look at it that way,” he added. “Your parents spend hard-earned money, I understand you want to see your favorite players, but there’s some people who don’t even get a chance to watch a game live.”

Durant hasn’t played since February because of a knee injury, but the team recently announced that he has made “very good progress.” The small forward could see court-time again before the end of the season.

While we wait for Durant to get healthy so his fans can see him play, check out some notes from around the league:

  • ESPN.com examined every front office in the league and ranked them from top to bottom based on the guidance and leadership each organization provides and how it affects success on the court. Unsurprisingly, team president Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford received the highest mark. Which team received the worst mark? The Kings came in slightly below the Knicks for worst front office in the league.
  • Thunder assistant GM Mike Winger, Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon are among the executives who are viewed as potential nominees for GM roles should they become available, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com writes. Arnovitz adds that Wright may be a few seasons away from landing a gig, but those within the league believe he has what it takes to do the job well.
  • JK Management announced that it will hold the first annual Professional Basketball Combine at IMG Academy. The PBC will take place in the days following the league’s official combine in Chicago.

Nets Hire Trajan Langdon As Assistant GM

The Nets have named Cavs front office executive Trajan Langdon as their assistant GM, Brooklyn announced via press release. The 39-year-old Langdon had just joined Cleveland as director of player administration and basketball operations this past September. He’ll rejoin new Nets GM Sean Marks, his former colleague in the Spurs front office, where Langdon worked as a pro scout from 2012 to 2015. Marks indicated via Brooklyn’s statement that the Cavs green-lighted the in-season move.

“We are very pleased to welcome Trajan and his family to the Brooklyn Nets,” Marks said in the statement. “Trajan is someone I worked with closely at the Spurs, and he brings a unique combination of NBA and European experience to the position. Trajan’s recent front office post with Cleveland added to his professional resume, and I want to thank the Cavs for their cooperation in this effort. The Nets look forward to Trajan’s contributions.”

Langdon is most well-known for his time playing at Duke, the alma mater of former Nets GM Billy King. The native of Alaska has further connections with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, board member Sergey Kushchenko and rumored coaching candidate Ettore Messina, all of whom were affiliated with Russia’s CSKA Moscow when Langdon had a successful run as a player for that team, NetsDaily notes (on Twitter).

The Cavaliers drafted Langdon 11th overall in 1999, though he spent three only seasons as an NBA player, all of them with Cleveland. He was with the Clippers for training camp in 2004 but didn’t appear in the regular season for them.

Frank Zanin already holds the title of assistant GM for the Nets, who previously carried two assistant GMs when they employed Zanin and Bobby Marks, with whom the team parted ways last spring. It’s unclear what the hiring of Langdon means for the future of Zanin, who ran the front office while the team searched for King’s replacement.

And-Ones: Langdon, Wizards, Fournier

The Cavaliers will hire Spurs scout Trajan Langdon as their Director of Player Administration, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). He will replace Raja Bell, who is leaving to spend more time with his family, Wojnarowski adds. The change was confirmed by Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group, who spoke to Bell. “I had so much fun with those boys and the Cavaliers’ organization, but it was just time to be with my family,” said Bell, who served in that role for one season. “It was the right thing to do right now, but I definitely enjoyed my time there.”

In other news around the league:

  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis had reached a tentative deal with Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel E. Bowser to build a $56.3MM practice facility, Jonathan O’Connell of the Washington Post reports. Officials said the city plans to construct and own the facility, which will also include an arena for the WNBA Washington Mystics, while Leonsis would contribute $10MM to aid the surrounding neighborhood, O’Connell continues. Leonsis has been pushing for a state-of-the-art venue to replace the existing practice facility at the Verizon Center in order to attract high-profile free agents next summer, including Kevin Durant, who grew up in nearby Prince George’s County, O’Connell adds.
  • Suns forward Markieff Morris and his brother, Pistons forward Marcus Morris, have a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday in Phoenix, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic tweets. They face felony aggravated assault charges for their alleged roles in a January brawl at a Phoenix recreation center. The duo would be suspended a minimum of 10 games if they are found guilty of a felony and could also face a suspension if they’re guilty of a misdemeanor, former NBA executive Bobby Marks tweets.
  • Magic swingman Evan Fournier could have competition for minutes and a sixth-man role this season from rookie Mario Hezonja, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reports. Both have similar skills, though playing them together on the second unit is intriguing because it could give Orlando some second-unit firepower, Schmitz continues. Fournier needs to improve defensively and increase his strength to get more playing time, Schmitz adds. He is eligible for an extension until the start of the regular season, and we recently examined his chances of getting it in our Extension Candidate series.