Pistons Wanted Weaver In 2018. Here's Why He Said Yes Two Years Later.

"It's all about timing," said the team's new GM.

Will Burchfield
June 23, 2020 - 9:05 am
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If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That was the Pistons' approach in hiring Troy Weaver, who rebuffed the team's initial advances in 2018. 

At the time, Detroit was in between coaches and in between management, without a clear direction forward. The club had little cap space to work with and no first-round pick in that year's draft. The Pistons weren't in position to contend, and they weren't yet willing to admit contention wasn't possible. 

And Weaver was still committed to winning a title in Oklahoma City, where he'd spent the past 10 years as assistant GM. 

Pistons owner Tom Gores acknowledged Monday in Weaver's introductory press conference that the team "tried to talk to Troy a couple years ago, and Oklahoma City wasn’t quite ready to let him go." And Weaver acknowledged he wasn't quite ready to leave. 

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"It’s all about timing," he said. "A couple years ago, I had a goal. We had a goal to bring a championship to Oklahoma City, and I wanted to continue to be there to try to make that happen. I felt a sense of loyalty to that organization for giving me the chance to be assistant GM in 2008 and I was excited to continue to work there for 12 years.

"But when this opportunity presented itself, I thought the timing was right. I thought the fit was right. And the loyalty that Mr. Gores and Arn (Tellem) and Coach Casey have been building here made it attractive. My talents fit where they’re trying to go, and having those guys to collaborate with and help us get where we’re going made it extremely attractive for me."

Weaver's talents are tailor-made for a rebuild. He has a long track record of identifying stars in the draft, and the draft is Detroit's vehicle for success. He'll have a high pick at his disposal this year, and likely another next year. He'll also have money to spend in free agency when the time is right. Two years ago, that wasn't the case. 

It's a testament to the work of senior advisor Ed Stefanski, who's spent the past two years, as he likes to say, getting the team's house in order. And that made Weaver want to move in. 

"I looked at where the Pistons were right now, trying to surge forward and become a competitive team again, and I’ve been in those situations (before)," said Weaver. "When I first went to Utah after the Stockton-Malone (era), Utah was trying to restore their franchise. And then my last 12 years in Oklahoma City, we just built it from the ground up. I just felt like my skills and talents and the training I’ve had with the Jazz and the Thunder made this a great fit for me, and thank God the Pistons saw it the same way. 

"But I always had an eye over here in Detroit because of the way the program is moving and the stability of the front office with Mr. Gores and Arn, who I’ve known for a long time, and hiring coach Casey." 

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Gores' impact on Weaver's arrival shouldn't be ignored. Weaver spoke often about how much he valued his relationship with Thunder owner, Clay Bennett. He was looking for something similar with his next team, and it didn't take him long to find it with Gores. 

"I tell you, when I met Tom on Zoom, I was blown away," Weaver said. "Tremendous energy. What he has in his heart for the Pistons, and who he is and what he stands for, I was sold in the first two minutes. I thought he had a tremendous vision for the team, the franchise and the city that he shared with me. It was just me and him when he got off the first call, and we were ready to go. We were ready to get this going back in the right direction. His energy and my energy matched."

For Gores and the Pistons, there was never any question. They were sold on Weaver two years ago, and it only made more sense when they circled back around. 

"We really needed to look at how we could bring in the best talent. There’s no doubt that one of the best talent evaluators out there is Troy Weaver, there’s just no doubt about it," said Gores. "He’s earned his keep in that regard. He had the track record and everything on his resume that made complete sense. We just felt it was time to go big or go home. Let’s just go get the best."