Pistons believe they’ve found their ‘CEO’ in Trajan Langdon

Detroit Bad Boys

In the end, the Detroit Pistons needed a CEO and a leader of men, and owner Tom Gores feels like he found it in Trajan Langdon, the team’s new president of basketball operations.

The Pistons hired Langdon three weeks ago, and have since added several people to the front office, fired a GM, fired a head coach, hired additional executives, prepped for the NBA Draft, and for at least a late afternoon, found time to introduce the new president of basketball operations at a press conference.

In his opening remarks, Gores reflected on the failures that have brought the team to this place. Now in his second decade in charge, Gores spoke about previously deferring too much to longtime basketball veterans who were lifers who could intuit all the smartest basketball moves. That certainly describes Stan Van Gundy, Dwane Casey, Troy Weaver, and Monty Williams.

This time, Gores said, he put his business mind to work and was most drawn to Langdon’s capabilities as a leader. He called him his “CEO.”

“I think Trajan can run basketball no problem,” Gores said. “I also think he can run a steel company.”

Langdon politely declined the offer.

For his part, Trajan was appreciative but very businesslike. He acknowledged the moment, and then it was right back to work.

In front of the gathered media at the Pistons Performance Center, Langdon thanked his wife and children, his parents and siblings, his former coaches, his players, and his mentors, David Griffin and Sean Marks.

Then in an appreciated, thoughtful, and direct way, explained how he was getting to work leading the Pistons back to relevance.

‘I’m a humble guy, but I think what this organization needed, I can provide,” Langon said.

He mentioned working tirelessly with Gores to build out his front office staff, an analytics team and add to the sports performance staff. Those changes included moving on from some folks.

Shortly after being hired, Langdon’s Pistons and incumbent GM Troy Weaver parted ways. It took more than two weeks for the other, larger shoe to drop. Langdon fired head coach Monty Williams with five years and $65 million left on his deal.

Gores thanked the contributions of both Weaver and Williams and throughout the conference and in talking to the media, it was clear the failure was that as talented as they were, neither man was the right fit for what the Pistons needed or what Gores was looking for.

Gores made several comments when praising Langdon on his ability to lead every aspect of a franchise and make decisions on a day-to-day basis. He talked a lot about threading the various aspects of basketball into a cohesive, intentional whole.

It certainly felt like its prominence in talking about Langdon pointed to its absence under the previous regime.

On Williams, meanwhile, Gores said that the fit just wasn’t quite right. When talking about a new head coach, both Langdon and Gores talked about the need to focus on developing young players. Again, the emphasis felt like the implication it was lacking in the previous man in charge.

Now, the big question is who will take Monty’s place on the sidelines.

When discussing what kind of coach he wants to hire, Langdon pointed to important characteristics, including leadership skills, communication, collaboration, and “really into development and is passionate about it.”

On his plans for the offseason, Langdon hinted at preferring an offseason plan that would add shooting and spacing first and foremost. He also considered his bevy of cap space an avenue to add veterans in trades along with additional assets. However, he emphasized that he wanted to add players who could contribute and support the development of the team’s young players.

Asked specifically about next week’s NBA Draft, Langon said he likes where the Pistons are at No. 5 and feels very comfortable there. But that he is always willing to listen to offers and if one came along that would help the team develop long term.

“Long term” was a key concept throughout the day. Neither the owner nor the new president sounded like someone looking for a quick fix despite the long run of losing.

“The mistakes of the past have been that a magic bullet would just handle things. As Trajan said, it’s about the details. It’s about leadership.”

The Pistons believe they have that leader, and while there is much left to be sorted, let’s just hope that for once, they got this one right.

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