DBB on 3: Reacting to the Trajan Langdon hire

Detroit Bad Boys

The wait is over as the Detroit Pistons tabbed Trajan Langdon as their new lead basketball decision maker on Friday. The move is the first domino in what could be a busy few weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, where the Pistons, of course, have the No. 5 pick.

1. The Pistons have hired their president of basketball operations in Trajan Langdon, what is your initial reaction?

Sean Corp: I have no special knowledge of Langdon, but I was rooting for him to get the job in 2018, in 2020, and I’m glad he is here in 2024. He’s young, he seems to know both the business side and the player side as someone with a long NBA career himself. I have liked a lot of his moves in New Orleans, though he was also working with David Griffin, so I guess you can quibble about who gets what share of credit. That was certainly an issue with the collective excitement around Troy Weaver who, it turns out, was not nearly on par with Sam Presti, his boss in OKC. Of all the realistic candidates on the list, Langdon was at the top of my board so I can’t be too upset. Of course, Stanley Johnson has been at the top of my previous board sooooooo … you don’t always get it right. I know the Pistons do not get or deserve much benefit of the doubt, but I have no qualms about Langdon being loosely connected to Arn Tellem (his former agent from his playing days), and I do think he will dismiss Weaver in due time. If this franchise wanted to be in a position where Tellem had outsized influence and wanted a new leader in place of Weaver, they would have simply fired him and hired a new GM. Instead, they restructured and hired a president who will bring in his own GM. This is all good news, in my opinion.

Lazarus Jackson: Nervous, cautious. I was very excited about the Troy Weaver hire, and that obviously did not work out the way I wanted it to, and so even though I initially like the hire I will wait to reserve judgement. I do like that Langdon is a grinder who has worked his way up from the bottom of the front office totem pole, I like that he’s younger, and I like that he reportedly can make the call on what to do with the current Pistons front office / coaching staff.

Ben Gulker: I like the pedigree and the recent success in New Orleans. There are good reasons for optimism. I’m also deeply skeptical of the Pistons’ ownership and their decision making and don’t think I’ll fully believe in it until I see it all working. Fool me once…

Brady Fredericksen: I’m happy. It’s been like four months since anything about the Detroit Pistons made me happy.

Justin Lambregetse: I’m happy with it. I can’t claim to be an expert on Langdon, but I know he was highly-regarded when he was with the Nets and hasn’t really done anything horribly bad with the Pelicans to ruin his shine. I know people will be uneasy about the Arn Tellem connection, but Arn Tellem had a lot of clients and the fact that Langdon has come up for other jobs in the past few years makes me think the Tellem factor is very minimal in this one.

Wes Davenport: I’m happy they found someone ownership believes in. It sounds like Langdon and Dennis Lindsay were the finalists and each did multiple interviews. I know its a “soft” thing and we can never truly know what went on behind closed doors, but Langdon was hired to set the vision of Pistons basketball — meaning the team needs to actually have a vision. That whatever Langdon presented to ownership on numerous occasions stuck with them enough to hire him is hopefully a good sign.

Blake Silverman: I was pleased. I assumed Langdon was a likely candidate and never fully bought into the belief that Tim Connelly was a realistic hire for a multitude of reasons that no longer matter. I appreciate that Langdon is a well respected executive and has already shown the ability to build a roster built for the modern NBA in his young career.

Max Strum: I’m about as excited as I could be about someone who we’ve never seen run their own front office before. Of course, like everyone else, I had pie in the sky dreams about Tim Connelly. Of the other rumored candidates outside of him, I think Langdon made the most sense. The Pelicans have assembled one of the deepest and most interesting rosters in the league, and he’s clearly had a major hand in that as general manager. While it would have been nice to hire someone who has had a tangible, proven track record of success overseeing a front office that we have seen, it is not often that those guys become available. There’s risk, but I think he’s worth it.

Sham Mohile: I have been interested in Trajan Langdon as a GM candidate dating back to the Troy Weaver hiring cycle. Langdon has worked in successful organizations (Spurs, Nets, Pelicans) and worked under highly regarded GMs (RC Buford, Sean Marks, most recently David Griffin). On paper this seems like a slam dunk hire, but I will caution that Troy Weaver ALSO looked like a slam dunk hire.

2. What is one thing about Langdon’s run in New Orleans that you like and one that you did it like?

Sean Corp: In looking at the moves Langdon (and Ferry) made in New Orleans, I like the mix of the BIG swings and the smaller things that are easy to overlook. It helps when your marching orders are to trade two stars for huge returns in Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, but netting not just first-round picks but also Steven Adams, which eventually became Trey Murphy and Jonas Valanciunas in another large deal. I also liked smaller moves like EJ Liddell and, of course, Herb Jones in the second round and Naji Marshall as an undrafted free agent. Even his draft misses, or question marks, are also in line with the kinds of players I was interested in taking risks on like Kira Lewis and Dyson Daniels.

As far as something I didn’t like, the hiring of Stan Van Gundy feels like it was a Monty Williams-esque mistake where a respected coach was just an awful fit and not the right guy at the right time for a young team. Of course, he learned his lesson and hired Detroit native Willie Green, and that is going much better.

Lazarus Jackson: I like the Pelicans’ focus on wings in the draft recently (Dyson Daniels, Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, even EJ Liddell had potential imo) but Kira Lewis was a miss and the jury is still deliberating on Jordan Hawkins. And I like that, despite that focus, the Pelicans roster still makes sense when all their guys are healthy.

I don’t like three coaches in five years (Alvin Gentry, Stan Van Gundy, Willie Green) for that front office time period. The Pistons need coaching stability for once.

Ben Gulker: Looking at this question through a Pistons lens, NOLA raised the talent floor around Zion since Langdon joined in 2019 — something he reportedly already has a plan for in Detroit for Cade. Having said that, I have always been a McCollum and Ingram skeptic, both of those contracts are pricey, and NOLA is looking to move on from Ingram. It’s not hard to imagine Langdon spending big quickly and having buyer’s remorse 18 months from now.

Brady Fredericksen: I like the way they’ve built that roster. Griffin has a lot to do with that, but they’ve got a type — big, long wings. Guys like Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, Trey Murphy and Naji Marshall all fit a physical profile that you need a lot of in today’s NBA. The Pistons have one wing, and as much as I love Ausar Thompson, he can’t shoot like those guys. I love SVG, but I’m with Sean: that made no sense then, even thought Stan found a way to get a really great year our of Zion.

Justin Lambregetse: The Pelicans have arguably the best collection of 3-and-D wings in the NBA, and they pretty much did it without high lottery picks. That is exactly what this team needs, so I am hoping he can maybe bring one of theirs in or find a few underrated gems. The thing I don’t like is the Pelicans failed to put a competent floor general with their solid wings and Zion and that probably would have put them into legitimate contention. Using CJ McCollum as your de facto point guard and point Zion isn’t a sustainable way to win in the playoffs and they have proven that the last couple seasons.

Wes Davenport: Herb Jones in the 2nd round was awesome. NOP has added plenty of wings and plenty of shooting over Langdon and Griffin’s years there, it would be great to have some of that in Detroit. Also, finding Alvarado was great for them. On the negative side, outside of Valančiūnas, I don’t love what they’ve done at the 5 over the years. Jaxson Hayes stands out as a big negative there.

Blake Silverman: I’m a fan of the signings and development of Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall. I think the Pistons would immensely benefit from drafting well in the second round or finding impactful players as undrafted free agents. I hope Langdon can find one or two of those sleeper gems early on in his tenure, no matter the role the player fills.

There aren’t a ton of moves sticking out that I don’t like, so I’m going to be picky with the Dyson Daniels pick. While I really like Daniels and he’s still developing, there were other players on the board that could’ve helped the Pels more immediately. Jalen Williams is the easy answer, but I don’t think anyone expected him to develop this quickly into a star. Walker Kessler or *gulp* Jalen Duren could’ve helped New Orleans as a second big off the bench behind Jonas Valanciunas.

Max Strum: What I love about his run in New Orleans is the fact that they were able to assemble talent in multiple ways. Sure, there were a couple of misses, but they drafted well most years, regardless of position. They were able to add a guy like Trey Murphy in the back half of the first round, find a high level contributor such as Herb Jones in the second round, as well as add an UDFA like Jose Alvarado. All three of these guys are rotation mainstays. Being able to acquire (and develop) talent without a high lottery pick is a trait that nearly every playoff team shares, and is one that has eluded the Pistons for as long as I can remember. One thing I don’t like is the way that they’ve managed their assets. Trading for CJ McCollum was a great move that helped their roster mature and take a step forward, but they’ve lacked aggression in using their assets to improve since.

Sham Mohile: Working under the tutelage of Griffin, Langdon’s first draft pick was probably the easiest one he made during his entire tenure there drafting Zion Williamson with the 1st pick in the 2019 draft. What really intrigues me are the moves he made after that pick. He’s shown that he can find very capable 3 and D role players outside of the lottery (Trey Murphy III – 17th pick, Herb Jones – 35th pick). One very underrated move he made in New Orleans was the acquisition of CJ McCollum from Portland. CJ was seen as a bad contract at the time and him coming over to the Pelicans immediately helped create a competitive roster around their 1st overall pick…which is something Pistons fans have been wanting for a while.

3. Do you think Langdon fires Monty Williams and Troy Weaver? Just one? Neither?

Sean Corp: I am about 90% sure that he fires Troy because I feel like it is easy enough to bring in a guy who is on your team-building wavelength. The coaching issues is a bit harder. I’d put the odds he fires Williams at about 70%. My only pause is that it only makes sense to fire Williams if you are supremely confident you’ll be able to bring in someone better. Coaching is hard, and Detroit is entering this consideration very late in the process. James Borrego flamed out in Charlotte, but he’s been an assistant in New Orleans and is in the running for the Lakers job. If Langdon feels like he would actually succeed as a head coach of a young team if given another shot, I could see him pulling the trigger. Or maybe he thinks highly of Kenny Atkinson. David Adelman hasn’t been given a head coaching job yet, but he’s one of those younger offensive whizzes that maybe a team takes a shot on — if they feel like they don’t have to hit the ground running and fight for the playoffs in year 1.

Lazarus Jackson: EYE would fire both, but I think Troy Weaver is absolutely getting fired. That’s a -100000 lock.

Ben Gulker: If I were Langdon, I would want to start fresh from day one, especially considering the disastrous 23-24 seasons, and I lean toward a full reset 75/25 based on current reporting. I tend to believe Langdon will want his own staff so he can fully rebuild his own way without fighting internal battles. The job will be hard enough already.

Brady Fredericksen: Both. There are no redeeming qualities to keeping that duo together, and I’m sure Langdon knows that. I can see a world where he keeps Monty Williams around based on his credentials and sees the potential in him being able to better lead a more mature and talented roster. Weaver, though, I just can’t see it. He doesn’t understand how to build a roster and scouting acumen hasn’t proven good enough to overcome that. Unless he’s simpatico with Langdon — and cool with essentially being demoted — that relationship probably ain’t working out.

Justin Lambregetse: I think he for sure fires Weaver. I don’t think he even needs to meet with him to make that decision. The team is where they are at because of Troy’s inability to surround the players he drafted with competent veterans and pretty much every move around the margins flopped. I think he gives Monty a chance for another season, unless Monty refuses to make any adjustments or take any responsibility for this past season when they meet. Tom Gores said he is willing to eat the contract, but eating the richest coaching contract after 1 season is a bad look for anybody’s ego and I think he pushes to keep him in place. Langdon may value having a veteran coach around during his first season as he gets acclimated to the job.

Wes Davenport: My gut says Weaver is as good as gone. If you were just hired to lead an organization, would you want to keep the guy who was in charge before you around? Monty might stick though. He does have plenty of history of being a good coach and the roster last year was awful. He and Cade seem to have a good rapport and adding a 3rd coach in 3 years isn’t the best developmental situation for a young team. Final thought, it’s not all that uncommon for a new front office decision maker to keep the past regime’s coach around for a year or 2. It gives the new guy some buffer time. Hire a new coach and you’re on the clock for success — it’s your guy running the show.

Blake Silverman: I think Weaver is likely gone. I don’t see a reason for him to stick around, other than a world where he’s only scouting, but I’m not sure that makes any sense. For Monty, I see it as more of a coin flip. I could see him sticking around at least one more year with new management in house to see if he can get things back on track. But, maybe it’s best to cut your losses now and bring in an up and coming assistant to lead the team for years to come. Whether Monty stays or goes is the more interesting decision to me.

Max Strum: It’s hard for me to predict what will happen with the incumbent coach and GM. Philadelphia is a recent example of both staying upon a new President being hired, but Philly had some success to go off of. As far as what I think should happen, I’ve always been willing to give Troy more of a pass than Monty simply due to the fact that the Pistons have long been rumored to have had a weird front office structure, and it’s unclear how many of the moves that he’s made have been totally his decision. If Langdon values Weaver’s scouting background, and connections in the league, I’m fine with him staying on with a lesser voice and a more narrowly focused role. His drafts have been decent, and he was dealt a rough hand 4 years ago. I’m indifferent regarding his fate. With Monty, it is my hope that he does not come back. We saw questionable decisions with rotations, and lineups all year. When he publicly admitted that the organization had to more or less prod him to give Jaden Ivey an opportunity to play on ball during a 14 win season, that’s all most people, including myself needed to hear. The organization needs to find a new coach who prioritizes defense, development, and ball movement. I saw none of those things a year ago, so why delay the inevitable?

Sham Mohile: My gut feel is that Troy Weaver is out as GM, but I do think he could be retained in a role that better suits his strengths (scouting). The real interesting conundrum is around Monty Williams. The (multi) million dollar question is whether or not Langdon wants to have Gores eat the guaranteed money and bring in his own guy. If he goes this route, he could bring on someone like Kenny Atkinson whom he’s had history with dating back to his time in Brooklyn. Alternatively, he could give Monty Williams one last chance this season with an extremely short leash. The priority has to be around development of the youngsters, but also to field a competitive and balanced team around Cade Cunningham that presents him the best opportunity to grow as the face of the franchise.

As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments!

1. The Pistons have hired their POBO in Trajan Langdon, what is your initial reaction?

2. What is one thing about Langdon’s run in NOLA that you like and one that you did it like?

3. Do you think Langdon fires Monty Williams and Troy Weaver? Just one? Neither?

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