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The Detroit Pistons’ attempt at a rebuild and relevancy will begin with Ed Stefanski.
That’s because Stefanski has been hired as the Pistons’ new senior adviser, and will be responsible for overseeing the hiring of a general manager and coach, the team announced Thursday.
“I’m going to Detroit to meet with all the employees, and I am going to listen to all their thoughts and visions,” Stefanski told ESPN. “And then I am going to give advice to our owner, Tom Gores, on how we are going to structure things going forward. The big thing right now, though, is that we need a head coach and a GM. Those will be two items that we will probably do simultaneously.”
Don’t know Stefanski? That’s OK. He’s not exactly an NBA household name. But he has definitely been around the pro basketball block.
Stefanski, 64, has been a front office executive for nearly 20 years, most recently serving as executive vice president of the Memphis Grizzlies since 2014. He also spent time on the basketball operations side with the Toronto Raptors (2011-13), Philadelphia 76ers (2007-11) and Brooklyn Nets (1998-2007).
His ties to Toronto have linked former Raptors coach Dwane Casey to the Pistons’ opening.
“The big thing right now … is that we need a head coach and a GM,” Stefanski told ESPN. “Those will be two items that we will probably do simultaneously.”
The Pistons parted ways with Stan Van Gundy, who served as the primary basketball executive and head coach, following the season. They finished 39-43, but have an intriguing lineup of returnees, led by Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson.
According to ESPN, Stefanski will move quickly to evaluate Detroit general manager Jeff Bower and the front-office staff that’s in place, put together by Van Gundy, and will look to separate the powers of basketball operations and the coaching staff.
Nets executive Trajan Langdon has met with the Pistons to talk about a high-level role in the organization and will remain a serious candidate, ESPN reported.
Former NBA guard and television analyst Brent Barry is a frontrunner to be hired to fill a complementary role in the Detroit front office, according to ESPN, while former Pistons standout Tayshaun Prince, who is finishing his first season in the Memphis front office, is a strong candidate to join Stefanski in Detroit, as well.
Colton Jones contributed to this report.