Why the Detroit Pistons don’t have a general manager heading into the draft

The 2018 NBA draft is on Thursday, and the Detroit Pistons still don’t have a general manager. But only in name. They have senior adviser Ed Stefanski.

The Detroit Pistons appear to be heading into the 2018 NBA draft without a general manager, which is a shocking thing to type until you remember that they only have the No. 42 pick heading into it. But they do have Ed Stefanski, who is running the show in every way without the title of general manager or president of basketball operations.

The Pistons were criticized for taking too long after the season to let go of Stan Van Gundy. They took flak again for taking too much time after that to find their next head coach. Then there are criticisms for the organization navigating a crucial part of the NBA offseason – the NBA draft process – without a general manager.

But there are a few constants the Pistons are relying on throughout this overhaul. There’s team owner Tom Gores, who appeared to have taken an active role in the coaching search and applied the pressure needed to make sure they landed the guy they wanted. There’s vice-chairman Arn Tellem, who is spearheading a lot on the management side of things. And at the center of it all throughout this regime change is Stefanski.

Stefanski was hired to be a senior adviser by Gores on May 24. His task was to be a rock of foundation the team could rely on as they searched for a new coach and filled the front office in the wake of parting ways with Van Gundy – who held both the head coach and president of basketball operations titles – and general manager Jeff Bower.

In a strange twist, Stefanski and the Pistons hired Dwane Casey as the team’s new head coach on June 11, before having a front office in place. Common sense typically dictates you have a president of basketball operations/general manager in place first, so they are able to provide input on the coaching hire.

As it turns out, Stefanski appears to be much more than a senior adviser. This is his front office, regardless of what his official title is. The organization is clearly comfortable with him in charge of making these importance decisions, and what’s there to complain about when his first big move was landing Casey? Sure, it’s strange that Detroit is apparently going to enter the 2018 NBA draft without those big front office positions filled, but the draft process isn’t as do or die when your team only has a second round pick. Furthermore, there’s not a lot of roster manipulation that can be done in Detroit, so patience is being practiced.

Stefanski has been a general manager with Philadelphia, a vice president of basketball operations with Toronto, and a VP of player personnel with Memphis. He has loads of experience being a higher up in NBA front offices. He may not have the title in Detroit, but he’s running the show much like a president of basketball operations would, and will likely continue to do so throughout his three-year deal with Detroit.

Sooner or later, the Pistons will give somebody the title of general manager/president of basketball operations, but they certainly aren’t in a rush. That’s because they have Stefanski, so don’t be confused by his senior adviser title.