Detroit Pistons president announcement feels imminent

Detroit Bad Boys

It has been roughly five weeks since the Detroit Pistons announced it was formally on the hunt for a president of basketball operations to oversee all basketball decision-making. The team hired a high-profile search firm, TurnkeyZRG, to run the search, and final candidates have been trickling out.

It now feels like a final decision is imminent, and if the team doesn’t manage to name a president soon, it could, ironically, provide even more clarity on the organization’s intentions.

Let’s take a step back and unpack where we are.

The latest names to emerge as finalists for the president position come via Yahoo Sports and are largely in line with reports from other outlets regarding the top contenders.

Trajan Langdon appears to be the frontrunner for the post. Yahoo Sports leads with Langdon among the finalists, and sources close to the team tell me he is considered a “strong candiate” among the finalists, though they would not come forward with any specific names.

Yahoo also lists Scott Perry, who previously worked in Detroit’s front office in the Going to Work era and spent many years with the New York Knicks, Dennis Lindsey, who served a long stint with the Utah Jazz, and John Hammond, also a top executive in Detroit during its title contention era who is now with the Orlando Magic and previously spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks.

There is also, of course, a Tim Connelly-sized elephant in the room. Connelly built a championship team in Denver behind Nikola Jokic, and is currently in charge of the Minnesota Timberwolves team who just knocked off the defending champs and looks like it could win a title as well.

Connelly has an opt-out clause in his contract, and there have been reports that the Pistons could throw a bag in his direction to woo him away from Minnesota. It remains to be seen what Connelly will actually do and if the threat of him leaving is being strategically forecast so he can get a hefty raise from the Wolves.

There is ownership drama, however, and that is very real. There is a struggle between Glen Taylor and presumptive future owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore. The two sides were in agreement on selling the team, but Taylor took the team off the market, alleging Rodriguez and Lore didn’t meet their obligations to complete the purchase.

While that is embarrassing there might be financial considerations that compel Connelly to be preparing for life beyond the Timberwolves. When joining the Wolves, Connelly reportedly had bonuses in his contract that were tied to the franchise’s valuation. When a team is sold, the value becomes explicit and those bonuses can get paid out. When a team is pulled off the market those bonuses could be put in jeopardy.

The Timberwolves are about to enter the Western Conference finals. A seven-game series would stretch to June 3. If the Wolves make it to the Finals, Connelly’s season stretches all the way to June 23.

if the Pistons stand firm and don’t make a hire soon, that seems to imply that the franchise is serious about a chase for Connelly. And you only wait that long to make an important hire if you have some feeling that the other side is prepared to say yes.

If the Wovles managed to win game 7 of the NBA Finals on June 23 and Connelly opted out on June 24 and was hired by a new team, let’s say, for the sake of argument, the Pistons, on June 25, the new Detroit president would have one day to prepare for the NBA Draft.

The draft is pivotal for the Pistons this year, even by the standards of how important the draft is for a team that is habitually in the lottery. Detroit must weigh making a selection at No. 5 or trying to use the asset in a package for a larger deal to get a serious veteran talent on the roster.

A new president will also have to decide what to do with current assets such as Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, Ausar Thompson and more. Not to mention the need to make a final determination on current GM Troy Weaver and the entire basketball apparatus that has so far disappointed in Detroit.

That is why it feels like a serious chase for Connelly is so unlikely. If I was going to power rank the current candidates based on likelihood they are named Detroit’s president, I would list them as: Trajan Langdon, Dennis Lindsey, John Hammond, Scott Perry, and Tim Connelly.

But every day from now until June 23 that a president is not named, the higher the odds Connelly is there guy and that owner Tom Gores is prepared to write a check big enough to make it happen.

OK, now I am ready to hit publish with the full expectation that it will lead to the Pistons officially naming a president and making this story age like milk. And … PUBLISH.

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