The Detroit Pistons introduced Jeff Bower as general manager at a press conference yesterday after making the hire official on Tuesday. Bower will take control of the day-to-day operation of running the club’s front office, while coach Stan Van Gundy can focus all of his attention on building a real team.
Bower was the coach for Marist College last year, and last worked in the NBA in 2010. Don’t worry, Bower is much, much more than just the guy who finished 12-19 in his only season coaching Marist.
His basketball career has included time as an assistant coach, scout, assistant general manager, general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, and head (interim) coach of the Hornets. In other words, he does not lack experience.
Bower had two stints as general manager in New Orleans: once from 2002-03 and again from 2005-2010. He was in charge of rebuilding the Hornets (now Pelicans) at the end of the Baron Davis era. Bower took control of the team following a 18-64 season (tied for 2nd worst in the league that year) and had them back in the playoffs in three seasons. Pretty commendable, but it helps when you get to draft Chris Paul with your first draft pick as GM.
Still, you have to got to think that Bower learned a lot in his years as a general manager. He will feel familiar and comfortable with his position, which is why I think the Pistons have made another step in the right direction with this hire. I remember the Chris Paul-led Hornets of the late 2000s because they were a team I loved to watch. It was Bower who played a critical part in assembling that team.
After drafting Paul in 2005, he went on to trade for sharpshooting Peja Stojaković and defensive enforcer Tyson Chandler in 2006, and then signed Morris Peterson the next year. New Orleans finished the 2007-08 season with the league’s fourth best record and earned the No. 2 seed in that year’s playoffs. He knows what it takes to assemble a team that works well together.
The Pistons find themselves in similar territory to that of New Orleans when Bower took control as GM in 2005: a former playoff contender that self-imploded, leaving the team with no identity and no chemistry. Unfortunately, Detroit won’t have a lottery pick that will bring the team a superstar-to-be like Paul was for Bower and the Hornets.
Van Gundy and Bower will be the tandem that gives Detroit its best shot at stability. Van Gundy surely trusts and respects Bower’s opinions on basketball as evidenced by his hiring, and if the two are of one mind then the Pistons could become a fearsome opponent. The talent is there, so if these two can mold it into a cohesive unit we’re talking immediate playoff contender.
While Van Gundy will have final say as head of basketball operations, it will Bower’s job to make sure he is fully informed when making such decisions. Expect him to be very active in the scouting, free agency and trade discussion departments for the Pistons. Bower will have just under a month to prepare for the draft (June 26), and the start of free agency (July 1). Sound the whistle, because it’s time for him to go to work like a Detroit Piston.