Pistons to part ways with general manager after four seasons

The Detroit Pistons will part ways with general manager Troy Weaver, a person with knowledge of the situation has confirmed with the Free Press, less than a month shy of the four-year anniversary of his hiring.

The Pistons announced one day after the season they would be hiring a new head of basketball over top of Weaver and have since hired Trajan Langdon as president of basketball operations.

Weaver’s 74-244 record and .233 win percentage as Pistons GM is the eighth-worst mark for an executive in NBA history, according to Basketball Reference.

The Pistons hired Weaver away from the Oklahoma City Thunder in June 2020. His tenure began with a flurry of roster transactions and a promise to ‘restore’ the franchise to its former glory. It ends on the heels of the worst season in franchise history, a 14-68 debacle rather than the leap forward that the organization, fans and the public expected after years of patient maneuvering.

Weaver, who originally signed a four-year contract, leaves without even beginning his contract extension signed in the summer of 2022.

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Though he achieved his simple goals of cleaning up the team’s cap sheet and restocking the roster with young talent — headlined by Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Ausar Thompson — the team’s continued regression this season revealed deep flaws in his team-building approach. The Pistons declined to make a big splash in free agency or the trade market last offseason, instead adding veterans Monte Morris and Joe Harris to a group that already included scorers Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks. And that ‘young core’ Weaver and owner Tom Gores have repeatedly touted has major fit questions.

With Cunningham healthy and surrounded by veteran role players and a core of recent first-round picks, the Pistons expected modest improvement from their 17-65 record in 2022-23. (Their over/under win total by bookmakers was set around 28½.)

Instead, the ground fell from underneath them. The Pistons lost 28 consecutive games spanning two months, setting the NBA in-season record, en route to a 2-29 start to the season that prompted Gores to fly to Detroit in December and meet with the front office, coaches and players, before addressing the media and trying to reassure fans the team would right the ship.

He again backed Weaver a day after the trade deadline in early February.

While Gores and vice chairman Arn Tellem have also had say in the team’s direction, Weaver’s failed gambles ultimately were costly. Two of the team’s three first-round picks in 2020 — Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey — are no longer on the roster. Hayes was a bust with the seventh overall pick and was cut after the trade deadline; Bey was traded for James Wiseman in 2023, the top player on Weaver’s 2020 draft board, who is approaching restricted free agency and carved out a role this season as a reserve.

The Pistons have nothing to show for failed swings on numerous recent lottery talents, such as Wiseman, Marvin Bagley III, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Josh Jackson and Jahlil Okafor, and entered the season with inadequate shooting and rim protection despite investing in four young big men and making eight first-round draft picks in four years.

A fire sale at the trade deadline addressed some roster deficiencies, but didn’t save the team from a franchise-worst finish.

A day later, Weaver insisted he still could turn the franchise around.

“Absolutely, I’m the right guy,” he said Feb. 9 to the media. “I sat here in June 2020 and said we’re going to restore the Pistons, and that’s what we’re going to do. We have a plan in place, a young core that’s showing that they’re growing and have a chance to be special players. It’s on us to continue to fortify that group. We have things in place, our core is in place. Have a coach in place to lead us. Absolutely, excited about the future. Like I said, we’ll own what’s behind us. But more importantly, we’re excited about what’s ahead of us. 

‘Like I said from Day 1, I’m unwavered. I’m on assignment to restore the Pistons and that absolutely will happen. It’s taken a little longer. Like I said, we’re in rough waters. But that’s only going to make us stronger. And we’re looking forward to brighter days and that will happen soon enough. The fans have been tremendous, and they want a winner on the floor no more than we do. We’ll make sure that we’ll turn over every stone and work our tails off to put a team out there on the floor that they can be proud of and continue to come to the LCA to support us.”

Weaver leaves the franchise with a parting gift: upward of $60 million in cap space this summer, which the team is optimistic will provide a quick path out of the muck brought by this season.

Now, Langdon, previously the GM of the New Orleans Pelicans, is in charge of plotting the next course in hopes of breaking a playoff winless drought that dates to 2008 — the longest in the NBA. The Pistons have missed five consecutive postseasons since 2019 and have lost an NBA-record 14 consecutive postseason games.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him @omarisankofa.

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