2023-24 season grades for the Detroit Pistons' owner and front office

Dallas Mavericks v Detroit Pistons
Dallas Mavericks v Detroit Pistons / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

The Detroit Pistons’ 2023-24 season was an abject failure, about that, there is little debate. 

Who should be blamed is another issue. We recently handed out season grades to the players and Monty Williams and it wasn’t pretty. 

Only a couple of players rose above a “C” and most of them would be repeating the course if this were a real class instead of a basketball team. 

dark. Related Story. 10 Craziest moments from the worst season in Pistons' history. 10 Craziest moments from the worst season in Pistons' history

But it’s not all on the players and coaches, as the owner and GM had their fingerprints all over this team and have to shoulder some of the blame themselves, so to be fair, here are the grades for owner Tom Gores and the front office led by GM Troy Weaver. 

Tom Gores: C- 

I can feel some of you furiously shaking your heads and wondering if I’ve gone soft with this grade but hear me out. Was Tom Gores effective? No. Was Tom Gores successful? Also no. And he hasn’t been since taking over the Pistons, who have yet to win a playoff game on his watch and have only had one winning season since Gores bought the team back in 2011. 

Given that they just finished with the worst record in team history, a “C-” seems obscenely high for a guy who has been the worst student in the class for some time. 

But Gores does try. He spends money. He tries to make big splashes. When he went out and bribed Monty Williams to be coach of the Pistons, most fans were ecstatic. You can claim you weren’t now, but everyone I saw on social media loved the Williams hire. The fact that it didn’t work out is not all on Gores, as most people agreed that Williams was the top candidate. 

This has been a theme with Gores, who has always splashed out on coaches and not been afraid to chase the big name. He spends money but does it with the lucidity and effectiveness of a 3AM purchase at White Castle.

Even though Gores didn’t fire Troy Weaver and Monty Williams immediately, he’s hiring someone who can and might, so they aren’t off the hook yet. Gores mostly did what you want your owner to do, which is cut check, and he has certainly done that. Unfortunately, he’s like a reverse Midas whose touch causes things to turn to s*** instead of gold. 

But I am going to give him some credit for trying, though it’s possible Gores should pull a George Costanza and just do the opposite of all his instincts. 

Troy Weaver: D- 

Where do I start? This season was a culmination of so many of Weaver’s bad decisions coming back to haunt him. But it started with him doing nothing last offseason to improve the team. Trades for Joe Harris and Monte Morris were a disaster. 

Continuing to believe he’s the smartest man who ever lived, Weaver relied far too much on his young players to improve and carry the team, which they didn’t. 

He waited way too long to trade Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks and couldn’t even squeeze one first-round pick for both after being offered two for Bojan alone last season. The Pistons, the worst team in the league for the last four seasons, still owe the Knicks a first-round pick.

He had to bribe the Washington Wizards to take Marvin Bagley III, another disaster on Weaver’s resume.  

And then, when the trade actually started working in the Pistons’ favor after MBIII and Isaiah Livers were replaced with Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari, Weaver waived Muscala as if he were afraid his team might win too many games. They justified this by saying it was "doing right by a veteran," sure, but how about doing right by the team you manage for once? Weaver did favors for the Nets, Knicks and Thunder last season, but none for his own team. Some of these other GM's must salivate when they hear he's on hold.

He didn’t sign a free agent, didn’t bring any veterans to complement his young players and embarrassed himself repeatedly by using the word “restoration” as his team got worse, writing cringey letters to the fans and telling us this was the year they were going to compete for 82 games before setting the all-time losing streak and putting up the worst record in franchise history.

I sometimes wonder if we are watching the same team, as Weaver’s confidence about his “plan” and “vision” has never wavered even though there’s been little evidence of either. 

The only thing keeping him from an “F” is the trade for Simone Fontecchio, which was a nice move, and the fact that he has kept the Pistons’ cap sheet clean. They do have plenty of financial flexibility, so at least they aren’t bad and expensive. 

I don't know how much say Weaver has over all of this "load management" going on every season, but that too needs to stop. The Pistons only had two players (Ivey and Sasser) play at least 70 games this season. They only had one (Cade Cunningham) who averaged at least 30 minutes per game, as Stewart and Fontecchio didn't play enough games to be eligible. So "Iron Man" Cade Cunningham led the Pistons in minutes per game and was 36th in the league in that category, the only one on the team in the top 90. Obviously, some of this was due to injuries, but a lot of it was holding guys out at the end of the season to lose more games, a strategy that has completely wrecked the culture of the Pistons, whose best players are sitting on the bench clowning in the home stretch instead of playing, learning nothing but to lose, lose, lose. No reps, no chemistry, but hey, at least they have a 14 percent chance at the number one pick in a horrible draft!

The Detroit Pistons do have a path to change things quickly, but it’s fair to ask if Weaver should be involved after his restoration has looked more like a demolition. 

I will also say that Weaver seemed humbled this season and was at least willing to admit mistakes with Bagley, Livers and Killian Hayes, who he had to cut after selecting him 7th in the 2020 NBA Draft. 

So, like the players, the front office and owner must improve, and that starts by getting this president of basketball operations hire right and having a big offseason.