Pistons GM and coaching search: No public list of candidates or timetable, says Platinum Equity partner

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons are still early in their process of finding a new general manager and coach, and they're not yet prepared to say whether they've made contact with any specific candidates. They're also not going to hold themselves to an artificial deadline to complete either piece of the process, whether it's finding a GM before hiring a coach, or even hiring a GM before the NBA draft on June 26. That's what I learned from the roughly eight-minute interview Platinum Equity partner Mark Barnhill gave Matt Dery at Detroit Sports 105.1

Personally, I find it hard to believe the team won't hire a GM before the draft, or won't hire a GM that signs off on the new coach. That said, if the team is bumped back from their current No. 8 slot during the NBA lottery on May 20 -- and subsequently lose their first-round pick to the Charlotte Bobcats -- all bets are off and the search could drag indefinitely.)

Also, why is Barnhill the partner talking about a coaching search? Because he has media experience and a background in recruiting, according to his official company bio: in addition to serving as a former executive and editor of the Los Angeles Daily News, he "holds leadership functions connected to strategic planning, recruiting and retention."

In any case, listen to the entire interview here, and/or read my transcription below:

Dery: What's the latest on the search? Can you tell us?

Barnhill: Well, there isn't really anything to report at this point. I mean, we're doing our work on all levels, right? We're both preparing for the draft, and already putting the pieces together there, and also going through the process of preparing for both identifying and hiring a new coach and a new general manager. But really nothing to report at this point in terms of news.

Dery: When you say "we," does that include Tom [Gores] or do you have, I know you guys hired a firm to kind of search and help. Who's involved?

Barnhill: There's a team on the ground ... a couple of our partners are there and other folks inside the Pistons, and of course we have Jed Hughes assisting as well. But Tom is close to this process and ultimately will be involved in the decision with respect to who moves into these positions.

Dery: Have you guys interviewed any candidates yet for general manager?

Barnhill: We're in a process, and that process entails a number of steps, right? Step one is, to the extent that people are currently employed, you gotta go to the folks they now work for, and you gotta get their permission, and in some cases there are potential candidates who may be connected to teams that are still in the playoffs. So it's a process that will continue to move forward over the next few weeks. I would really rather not get into now whether or who we may or may have not talk to.

Dery: Mark, last time we talked, you vehemently denied all that Isiah Thomas talk. We had the event here, the Bad Boys reunion, the 30 for 30. Are you guys looking more in terms of, would you be open to a guy like that or any ex-Piston? Or a big name? Or is this search wide-ranging where you're including assistant GMs, analytical guys, that might not be the names but might be guys that are ready to take over?

"We're looking as broadly as we can to find the most talented people for both the coach and GM position." -Mark Barnhill

Barnhill: I wouldn't want to rule anything in or out. I mean, we're looking as broadly as we can to find the most talented people for both the coach and GM position. The nature of this process though again is, one, that it's methodical, and it goes through a series of steps, and at various times names have been thrown out there, and there's no benefit to commenting yay or nay on any of them. This process will play out soon enough and you'll all will see who winds up in those spots.

Dery: Will it be the GM first and he hires the coach? Or is the firm working on both separately?

Barnhill: Not necessarily. Again, there is a process that we're going through and I think we're looking at both in tandem. Obviously they're interrelated, though, and we want to make sure whoever winds up in each of those positions, there's great chemistry between them.

Dery: Was the end with Joe Dumars how you guys wanted it to play out? I know there was the Mitch Albom column, and then the next day things started to leak out. Neither side really has said all that much. Joe hasn't not spoken with the media at all, other than issuing a statement? Was it the way you guys wanted it to end? Was it OK?

"We're still in business with Joe, and he still is an important part of the organization." -Mark Barnhill on Joe Dumars

Barnhill: First of all, it hasn't ended, right? We're still in business with Joe, and he still is an important part of the organization. He has been a Piston for 30-some odd years now, and one of the great players and executives in the league. So Joe will continue to have a role with the organization.

In terms of how the transition ... away from basketball operations into this new role occurred, I think it happened as we would have expected it to. When the season ended, kind of a tribute to Joe and all the great respect for him. He was part of that Bad Boys event you mentioned that was a couple of weeks earlier, and I think it was important to reflect on all those guys, and what they meant to the organization and what they're legacy is in terms of the values that they represented that I think still are important as we continue to build this team moving forward.

Dery: Tom Gores, yourself, the rest of the ownership group: how would you characterize the mood of you guys now in terms of where the organization is at? Were you angry at losing 53 games? Is it urgent? How would you describe what you thought after a season that was obviously disappointing?

"There's no question that we felt the team is better than its record showed." -Mark Barnhill

Barnhill: We're certainly excited and anxious to move this thing forward and bring this team back to the levels it has been in with three championships over the past 25 years. I think that certainly we're disappointed with some of the results last year. I mean, there's no question that we felt the team is better than its record showed. It puts the onus on all of us, from the ownership group all the way down, to do everything we can to put those players in position to succeed.

But listen, we think we have a great nucleus with a great opportunity to build here and to bring this team back to the great position it's been in the past.

Dery: Do you anticipate the new coach and GM will be guys that will be also with you, and thinking that, hey, this should be a playoff team next season? Or do you take a step back and go, oh, we might have to slow that thinking down just a little bit.

Barnhill: Again, I would say it's premature to put specific goals in place, but I think your objective is always to be competitive and make the playoffs and ultimately to compete for a championship. So, I would tell you that anybody who comes in, whether it's a player, or a coach or a fan who walks in the door that says, "No, we don't really want to make the playoffs, we don't expect to make the playoffs, we're just going to go through the motions now and hope we get better at some point in the future," that's just a wrong attitude, right?

So our expectations are always going to be that the team is going to play hard, it's going to be competitive, and if we put the right pieces in place, it's going to contend for a playoff position and ultimately be in position to contend for a championship.

Now, having said that, do we know that a young team needs to grow and evolve over time? Sure. But I think again, anyone who would tell you that their objective is NOT to be competitive or NOT to be a contender in the league is in the wrong business.

Dery: Do you anticipate the new GM being in place by the draft, or is that not necessarily the case?

Barnhill: I think that's hard to say. It's not necessarily the case. We'll just have to see how this process plays out.

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