‘We Needed a Fresh Start’ Gores Says at Formal Introduction of Trajan Langdon as President of Basketball

It took more than three weeks, but the Detroit Pistons have finally formally introduced Trajan Langdon to the public as the team’s new President of Basketball Operations after announcing his hiring on May 31, 2024. With the hire, Langdon becomes one of only a handful of Black executives in the role of team president across the association.

In the three weeks that Langdon has been in his role, he’s already made significant front-office changes. The day after hiring Langdon, June 1, the organization fired General Manager Troy Weaver who served in his role for just under four years. Under Weaver, the team drafted all its current core players, including Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren, all players who are considered building blocks as the team looks to retool.

Last week, the Pistons announced that Monty Williams would not return for a second season as the team’s head coach.  The decision comes after a “thorough review and analysis of the team’s performance during the 2023-24 campaign,” the team said in a statement.

Just last summer, Gores gave Williams the most lucrative coaching contract in NBA history up to that point, signing him to a six-year, $78.5 million contract. Williams had five years and more than $65 million left on his contract, but Gores is now on the hook for paying the remainder to Williams.

Gores said during the press conference to publicly introduce Langdon that the duo’s first meeting was about six hours long, with the first three hours being about basketball, and the next three hours being about business. It was a great first impression for Gores, who said he didn’t want to impress his opinions of who to hire onto his most trusted staff. Instead, he wanted to get to know Langdon’s philosophy about his mentality both on and off the court.

“I decided…that I wanted to recruit a CEO. We interviewed many, many people. I probably had 50 meetings in the last several weeks, and I decided that what I did to get me here, is what got me to where I am now,” Gores said. “He listens. He has enough confidence to bring in tremendous people.”

Gores said during a subsequent meeting, Langdon surprised him by showing up in person for what was supposed to be a virtual meeting. He said it left an impression on him that let him know how much of a leader he had on his hands.

“What we have here is a CEO and a president of basketball. One of the things I need to do, and that I feel like I haven’t done, is to be a mentor to Trajan. The way you grow is how you lead,” Gores said. “He has all the qualities I look for – not in a basketball man, but as a leader.”

Gores thanked Weaver and Williams for their contributions to the team, saying they did a lot of good work during their time that the organization might not realize now, but will in the future.

“I think the nice thing about having this conference now is that we’re not talking about what we’re going to do. We’re talking about what we’re doing now,” he added.

When Langdon finally took over to address the crowded room, he immediately thanked his wife and sons, saying he’s moved them around a lot for different jobs, and that they’ve been patient and supportive the whole way. He also thanked his coaches, including former Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and his parents and teammates along the way. Then he began talking about his first few weeks on the job.

“We’ve been working our butts off here for the past three weeks, but it couldn’t have been done with (Gores’) support from day one,” said Langdon.

He acknowledged Gores and Arn Tellum and thanked the organization for “taking a leap of faith” on him, and said he gave everyone already in the organization an opportunity to work with him, thanking those who stayed during the transition of power to him.

“My goal is to compete night in and night out and put a product on the floor that the city is proud of. That’s what the city deserves. Since I left San Antonio, I haven’t seen a building with as many banners…and I look forward to getting this franchise back to where it needs to be,” Langdon said.

“There’s only 30 of these (jobs) and it’s always been my dream. I think the connection was there in terms of where this franchise was and where it needed to be. … I’m pretty good at some of the things this organization needs.”

“I don’t think we’ve had the caliber of leadership at the Pistons as we do with Trajan,” Gores said. “I look at this as Trajan is the CEO. I don’t think we’ve had anyone here that can tie those threads together. We can all talk about what it takes to win at basketball, but I don’t think we’ve had someone here who could tie it all together. We’ve brought good people, but what we have here in Trajan is someone who can thread it all together…someone who can connect all the dots. You do need a leader day to day…so I’d say Trajan brings that skill.”

Trajan said he wasn’t heavily focused on the team much last year in his previous role with the New Orleans Pelicans, so he didn’t fully study the team in past years, but he’s seen “young men who love being in the gym and who love to work,” with the current Pistons roster.

“I’ve shared my vision with them about where this team is going and what I’d like to do with this team…and they’ve all been very, very excited about that,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of talented guys. I’m excited about working with them and bringing some players in – whether that’s through trades or free agency – and bolstering the level of play,” Langdon said.

Langdon said there’s no timeframe of when the team will get back to playoff-level basketball, but it’s more about changing the culture, creating a winning foundation and environment, and trying to get the entire organization back to a winning environment.

“If the young talent we have here reaches their potential, but we can’t skip steps,” Langdon said.

Gores added: “I’m extremely confident that this partnership with Trajan is going to work. This will turn our franchise around. It’s about the details. It’s not just about one player. It’s about bringing the team together. He has both high intellectual skills in basketball, but he’s a leader, and leaders are important in building. Greatness is built on the details, and you can’t skip those.”

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