Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores introduces new President of Basketball Ops Trajan Langdon: ‘He is what I’m looking for in a leader’

June 26, 2024 | Homepage News The Pistons

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores introduces new President of Basketball Ops Trajan Langdon: ‘He is what I’m looking for in a leader’

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores officially welcomed new President of Basketball Operations Trajan Langdon on Friday afternoon.

Speaking before an audience of immediate family, the local media and team employees, Gores at first thanked the fans for their patience following last season’s 14-68 season that prompted a little soul searching that ultimately led to the hiring of Langdon.

“My commitment is to Detroit, and try to get us to the right place,” Gores said from a podium on the practice court at the Henry Ford-Pistons Performance Center. “I’m very excited about Trajan. He has all the qualities that I look for, not only in a basketball man, but he is what I’m looking for in a leader.

“I’m very, very proud to announce our president of basketball operations.”

Langdon will report to Gores, who is the founder and CEO of private equity firm Platinum Equity. Langdon is already hard at work to expand the front office by recruiting additional innovative and experienced executives, with an emphasis on strategy, player personnel and operations. Gores said a major reason he hired Langdon is because the Duke University double major (math and history) carries himself like a CEO.

Langdon, 48, joins the Pistons with 12 years of front office and scouting experience, including most recently as GM of the New Orleans Pelicans from 2019-2024. Prior to his time in New Orleans, Langdon served in front offices for the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs.

Gores said the Pistons ran a thorough process, interviewed many worthy candidates and conducted extensive diligence. Langdon has already made strategic hires and he is still interviewing candidates for additional roles, which includes the head coaching position after it was announced earlier this week that Monty Williams would not be returning.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us,” Langdon said. “We’ve done a ton of it in the last three weeks, but we got a lot more, but it’s going to be fun.

“The one thing about my vision here is that I want us to do this together. I want to do it with high-character, hardworking, with competitive people, with a Detroit mindset first. We have a lot of good people that have come in. We have a lot of good people that are here and we’re going to do this thing together.”

Langdon is the Pistons’ first team president since Stan Van Gundy left in 2018. He replaces general manager Troy Weaver atop the Pistons basketball operations organizational chart. Langdon referenced the banners hanging from the walls representing three NBA titles and 13 names retired names and numbers.

“Our goal is to compete night in and night out, and to put a product on the floor the city is proud of, and the city wants to support,” Langdon said. “That’s (the) kind of team the city deserves.”

Gores and Langdon addressed the media for nearly one hour. Gores and Langdon addressed the coaching search and many other topics. Here are the highlights:

(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity).

Q: Trajan, as you were trying to sell yourself to Tom, did they have to sell you considering the recent struggles? And then for you Tom, you mentioned having one voice, one plan in previous years. Do you think that wasn’t the case previously?

Langdon: There’s only 30 of these and it’s been my dream to run one of these one day. I knew the time would come at some point and hopefully things would match up between myself and an owner. I thought the timing was great in this situation and I really connected (with Tom) over late-night meetings, phone calls, but I think the connection was there. There’s an understanding of what this franchise was and what this franchise needed at this given time. And I think some of those things this organization needed, I’m able to provide.

Gores: Trajan is a CEO. We can talk all about what it takes to win at basketball, but there’s so much to Trajan. I think he just has this ability to connect all the dots. I’d say Tracy just brings that skill. He just got a lot of those things that I don’t think we’ve ever put into place here. To me, as I embarked on this search, I committed to myself that I would do it the Platinum Equity way, not just the basketball way. Trajan, to me, is the Platinum way. He embodies all those leadership skills that I look for.

Q: What’s your initial assessment of the team’s talent?

Langdon: I’ve only been here for three weeks and to be honest with you, we were in the (Western Conference), which was a grind, so we only saw the Pistons twice per year. I wasn’t heavily focused on this team last year to be honest with you. But from what I’ve seen, here are young men that love to be in the gym, and they love to work. We’re a young team, but these are good young men, passionate about the game, they’re excited about the future and have been in here working. I’ve got a chance to meet individually with many of them. They’ve been very responsive.

Q: For Trajan, when you look at the Pistons, how far away do you think they are from turning this franchise around? And for Mr. Gores, how confident are you this time around that the organization is closer to success?

Langdon: I don’t think there’s a timeframe. For us, it’s about creating a foundation for our young players, a foundation of winning, which means creating an environment of winning. You have to do that first before you can actually win between the lines. That means not only the players and the coaching staff, that means the front office and the performance staff. We all have to help out in the development of our young players. I think creating that foundation is paramount that we do that first. It’s creating an atmosphere of helping that young talent reach their potential. I think if the young talent that we have here reaches their potential, we have a chance to become pretty special. But again, we’re not going to skip steps. I can’t give you a timeline. When we get there, we get there.

Gores: I think the mistake of the past is thinking that a magic bullet would just handle things. It’s about everyday leadership. I’m confident because I haven’t looked at Trajan just as a basketball man. I look at him as a leader with high intellectual skills in basketball and in how to handle people and inspire people. So I’m extremely confident.

Q: I know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now with the draft and free agency beginning soon, but there’s also a coaching search. What’s the timeframe for having a coach in place?

Langdon: Is it going to take a back seat? Absolutely not. We have to find time to meet on these things every day. Believe me, we are doing it all day every day right now with this group of human beings right here. They’re incredible. The amount of work that we’ve gotten done in the last three weeks has been amazing. If you look around this room, everybody’s part of it, everybody’s going to have to continue to be part of it for us to get across the finish line. But we’ll execute the draft, we’ll execute free agency and we’re going to find a good head coach. As to the timing of that, I have no idea when that time comes, but we’ll know who that coach is.

Q: How much are you prioritizing the trade market?

Langdon: With our cap space, I think that one thing that we are looking for is bringing in contracts maybe from other teams and gathering assets as well. With those players that come in, they can bolster the growth of our youth.

Q: How do you change this team from one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league? And Cade Cunningham is obviously the highest-profile player on this team. What are your impressions of him?

Langdon: Spacing always helps, so that’s what we’re obviously going to attack. I think if you have shooting on the floor, as well as have players that understand the game, it’s going to really cut down turnovers and you’re just going to shoot the ball better. You’re going to get better looks. That’s the kind of roster we envision for Cade.

He and I have had some really good conversations thus far. High character, mature beyond his years. I think he is a big-time basketball player at a young age, obviously averaging 23 points and seven, eight assists this is last year. We’re hoping to put a group around him to help his growth. He is an unselfish player who I do think has a chance to really be impactful at a high level.

Q: This is for Tom. What are you personally looking for in a coach?

Gores: Something Tracy and I have talked about is I think is getting someone to develop the players. I think that’s really important. We do have a great crew of young players, so what I’m looking for is progress. I know it’s going to take some, but it has to start with that.

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