Van Gundy: New Pistons GM Bower will have say in personnel decisions
JUN 04, 2014 12:28p ET
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Stan Van Gundy made one thing very clear Wednesday afternoon: He didn't hire Jeff Bower to be a file clerk.
With Van Gundy serving as both the coach and team president, there's been some question as to what kind of duties would be left for Bower. But neither Pistons new hire is concerned about Bower not having anything to do.
"People talk about me having the final decision over roster moves, but that's way overblown in my opinion," Van Gundy said during a press conference introducing Bower as the team's new general manager. "We want a collaborative process where we have several intelligent people helping making the right decisions. My job is to develop a vision and strategy with Jeff about how we want to go forward, but this is going to be Jeff's front office.
"I'll be involved, but he's going to the one talking to teams about deals, and he's going to be the one evaluating players on a daily basis."
Bower had the same feeling about his role in the organization.
"One of my biggest jobs is going to be to help Stan and ownership to craft a plan of how we want to do things as a franchise," Bower said. "When we have that in place, it will fall upon me to make sure it is getting communicated to our staff, so that everyone is working in the same direction."
Van Gundy and Bower have a relationship that goes back decades, dating to their time together on the recruiting trail as small-college assistant coaches. Van Gundy said he was also highly impressed by Bower's work with the New Orleans Hornets in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"We're getting a great general manager, someone who built a winning team in very difficult circumstances in New Orleans," Van Gundy said. "But we're also getting someone who knows the NBA at every level. He's been an assistant coach, a head coach, a scout, an assistant general manager and a general manager, and that's not including everything he has done in the college ranks."
In 2007-08, with the team back in New Orleans on a full-time basis, they went 56-26, won their first division title and took the Spurs to seven games before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
"It's impossible to leave New Orleans without a great taste in your mouth," Bower joked. "But I truly love that city and everything we accomplished there. We couldn't solve all the problems left by the hurricane, but in 2007-08, we gave a beaten-up city something to cheer about. And that felt good."
Despite Van Gundy's long-time friendship with Bower, Van Gundy pointed out that the hire was vetted all the way up to owner Tom Gores.
"I communicated with Tom every day -- not just a few days, but every day -- and he was very involved in the process," Van Gundy said. "The one thing about Tom is that he's going to challenge you every step of the way, so you better be sure why you've made a decision. To me, that's great because it sharpens your focus to make sure that you are doing things for the right reasons.
"Jeff and I like each other and respect each other, but he's only sitting here because he's the right person for the job."