Detroit-Native Scott Perry Should Be the Pistons’ New Head of Basketball Operations

The Detroit Pistons have endured a historically bad five-year stretch.

They just ended their worst season in franchise history with a record of 14-68, and since their last playoff appearance in 2018, the team has won a total of just 94 games in the past five years while amassing a league-worst 290 losses.

In an attempt to reorganize, bolster its basketball front office, and restore a once-proud franchise back to the fans, team owner Tom Gores recently announced that the club will appoint someone as for the newly created position of head of basketball operations. It’s a role that will report directly to him and oversee all team activities and personnel. To assist with the appointment, he has retained the help of a national search firm to cast a wide net and find the best candidate.

Gores candidly acknowledged the team’s poor performance and said that he’s looking to capitalize on the Pistons’ young talent and financial flexibility to better position the team to compete in the years ahead.

“This past season has been incredibly difficult and frustrating for our fans, players, and our entire organization,” Gores said. “We will continue to invest in our core group of young players and surround them with the right complimentary talent. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to build a winning team. Nothing is off the table. As tough as this season has been, a bright future is available to us. It’s in our power to get this right, and we will.  This is a pivotal summer for the Pistons.”

But if we’re ranking the Pistons’ problems in order from biggest to smallest, finding the right person for this job would be near the bottom of this relatively long list.

You need a person who knows how to change the attitude of a franchise. You need a person who has endured the hardships of losing, but also has helped a team reach the pinnacle of success and win an NBA championship. You need a person who understands Detroit, its fans, and its blue-collar mentality. You need Scott Perry.

Born and raised in the Motor City, Perry’s passion for the game ignited early on the blacktops of his neighborhood and were molded during his time as a standout student-athlete at University of Detroit Jesuit High School. His raw talent and unwavering work ethic caught the attention of scouts, earning him a scholarship to play college ball at both the University of Oregon and then back in Detroit at Wayne State University.

His tenacity on the court translated into a successful collegiate career, but it was his keen eye for talent and strategic acumen that propelled him into the front offices of the NBA. After earning his degree in business management, Perry swiftly climbed the ranks, serving in various scouting and management roles for several NBA franchises.

After a stellar 13-year collegiate coaching career that included time at Michigan with the Fab Five, Perry’s illustrious 23-year front-office career began right here at home with the Detroit Pistons, where he honed his skills as a scout and talent evaluator, laying the groundwork for his ascent in the NBA. Hall of Fame Pistons President Joe Dumars hired Perry for a front-office executive in 2000, where he helped change the team’s dynamic and build up a roster that went to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances (2003-2008), two Eastern Conference Championships (2004, 2005), and win the 2004 NBA championship.

In 2007, Perry joined the front office of the Seattle SuperSonics (later the Oklahoma City Thunder) as the assistant general manager, where he played an integral role in player personnel decisions and draft strategy, including the decision to draft the future Hall of Famer in Kevin Durant. His contributions helped shape the Thunder into a perennial playoff contender.

After one season with the OKC, he left to rejoin the Pistons as the vice president of basketball operations from 2008-2012. He was charged with helping the team’s rebuilding efforts after Dumars deconstructed the championship-contending team that had reached six consecutive conference finals.

From 2012-2017, Perry was the Orlando Magic’s vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager. It was a time of reconstruction for the organization, where the owner had to make tough decisions about its coach, Stan Van Gundy, and its franchise player, Dwight Howard. Ultimately, the team fired Van Gundy and traded Howard in one of the biggest four-team trades of the decade. But Perry served as an anchor during the franchise’s reconstruction period. Ultimately, he endured the difficulties of a transitional period for the franchise, and left them in a place to contend and compete in the future.

In April 2017, Perry’s journey led him to the Sacramento Kings, where he served as executive vice president of basketball operations. In just a few short months with the Kings, he was able to help the team sign key players including George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter, and draft De’Aaron Fox. Perry played a key role in reshaping the team’s roster and culture, instilling a winning mindset among players and staff alike.

Just a few months later in 2017, Perry’s career reached new heights when he was named the general manager of the New York Knicks, a position he held for six tumultuous yet transformative years. He was the longest-tenured GM to serve under Knicks CEO James Dolan, who has run the team since 1999. Tasked to revitalize a franchise mired in mediocrity, Perry faced immense pressure from the passionate fan base of the Big Apple.

Undeterred by the weight of expectations, Perry approached his role with a blend of dynamic decision-making and a long-term vision for success. He prioritized building through the draft, strategically selecting promising young talent to lay the foundation for a brighter future.

During his tenure, Perry orchestrated pivotal moves and was a financial wizard when astutely managing the team’s salary cap. He was able to draft budding stars and make savvy trades to reshape the Knicks’ roster. His commitment to player development and fostering a winning culture earned him respect within the organization and across the league.

“Scott Perry brought a level of professionalism and passion to the Knicks that was truly inspiring,” said former Knicks head coach David Fizdale. “His vision for the team’s future was instrumental in laying the groundwork for sustained success.”

Perry’s unwavering commitment to excellence never wavered, and he played a key role in building the team that finished second in the East this season and is currently in contention for an NBA championship.

In 2023, Perry’s tenure with the Knicks ended, and since then he’s continued showcasing his basketball expertise as an analyst for ESPN.

There have been several other names that have emerged as potential candidates for the Pistons head of basketball operations. Former Pistons player Tayshaun Prince and Michigan-native Shane Battier – who both hold current front-office positions in the NBA – are thought to be considerations. Dwane Casey, a current member of the Pistons’ front office, has also been talked about as a candidate. And Jon Horst, the Milwaukee Bucks’ general manager and 2021 NBA Executive of the Year, is also believed to be in the running for the job.

As credible as I think those considerations are, I don’t think they stack up to Perry, who has shown that he can help rebuild a franchise even under the most critical conditions. He did it for Detroit and he did it for New York. And as the New York saying goes, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Detroit fans want to see a resurgence for the Pistons in the same way that we saw a resurgence for the Detroit Lions this season.

So Gores calling the 2024 offseason “a pivotal summer” is an understatement. It’s a summer that will define the franchise’s foreseeable future.

Sitting courtside at Little Caesars Arena for most Pistons home games this season, I heard the boos every time head coach Monty Williams was announced during pregame introductions. I heard fans’ chants of “sell the team” near the end of every demoralizing loss. I saw players hang their heads low when they walked off the court. And I listened to staff members around the organization question whether the front office or players had their hearts immersed into the product.

Hiring Scott Perry is the right move. He’s shown that he can fix what’s been broken, elevate what’s working, and bring his brand of winning basketball to the organization. It’s the right next step for Gores to repair his relationship with a frustrated fan base and to bring back the winning culture of true Deeetroooit Basketbaaaaall!

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