One of the most interesting soundbites to come out of Tom Gores' introductory press conference was his vow to push Joe Dumars. "Our job isn't to agree with Joe," he said. "Our job is to challenge Joe, and hopefully that will make the outcome better."
In an interview with Mitch Albom, Gores explained what he meant:
Albom: You spoke at your news conference about "challenging" Joe Dumars, your team president. What did you mean by "challenge"?
Gores: I think it's gonna be good for Joe. I think Joe has needed some ownership. Just as we challenge our CEOs in our own companies, (we'll challenge Joe) to think about every different way he can do something. ...
I think Joe is ready for it. I don't think he's afraid of it. And as much as we're an owner that's gonna allow basketball operations to do their thing, I'm gonna be very, very present, and we're gonna ask questions. We're not gonna rest on our laurels.
There's not many lines for us to read between here, so I'm aware that my own personal bias is likely leaking into this interpretation, but when I see Gores say he wants to challenge Dumars "to think about every different way he can do something," I can't help but wonder if he's pushing for a more analytical approach to scouting.
The whole "scouts vs. stats" debate is tired and irrelevant (you need both!), but there are clearly some franchises out there known for taking the numbers more seriously than most. The Spurs and the Thunder jump to mind, as do the Trail Blazers. (Update: the Rockets obviously deserve to be mentioned, as well, seeing as their GM is at the forefront of this new wave of thinking.)
In any case, be sure to read the whole interview -- it has nice background on Gores' upbringing, the moment he realized he was rich and how he likely would have pursued buying the Detroit Lions had they been for sale.
Update: Also, this (italics mine):
Albom: When did you first realize you were wealthy enough to own a sports team if you wanted?
Gores: Oh, geez, I don't know. A few years ago. It's not really the business we're in. But this is such a unique situation where it really could use someone like me to help it transition and transform. ... I always want to create value; I never want to buy value.
While clearly talking about his own personal investment strategy, the idea of never wanting to buy value could obviously apply to NBA personnel. In order to correctly gauge a player's true value, you need objective measures of worth (eg, advanced statistics). Gores doesn't buy companies because his analysts have gut feelings (eg, "handles it, shoots it, long and smooth!") or merely like the superficial outlook (eg, points per game) -- they dive deep into the numbers to find untapped potential. Insisting the executive in charge of his newest investment apply the same strategy makes perfect sense.
In other words: Drafting well and holding onto young players at below market value contracts = good. Signing established veterans on the first day of free agency to expensive contracts = bad.
(Also, many thanks to Big Z for posting this as a FanShot earlier today.)