clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tom Gores to purchase Detroit Pistons from Karen Davidson

At long last, Tom Gores has officially agreed to purchase the Detroit Pistons from Karen Davidson, the team announced this afternoon.

Gores, a self-made billionaire who grew up near Flint and graduated from Michigan State, still needs final approval from the NBA's Board of Governors, but at this point that's a mere formality. David Stern revealed months ago that he had already met Gores, so one would presume the vetting process has long since completed.

It's not yet known how much Gores agreed to pay Davidson, but it's worth remembering the price includes the entire Palace Sports and Entertainment empire, which includes the team, the Palace, Pine Knob DTE Music Theatre and the operating rights to Meadow Brook Music Festival.

As noted by the Detroit News, Forbes magazine estimated the value of the Pistons organization at $479 million in 2010 and $360 million this year. The average of those two estimates is $419.5 million, which seems like a good spot to start the over/under for guessing what Davidson will walk away with. For reference, the Golden State Warriors sold for an NBA record $450 million last July, and that didn't include an arena.

Whatever the final bill ends up being, it's safe to say Gores can afford it. Forbes estimates his personal net worth at $2.4 billion, ranking him 161st among America's rich and 488th worldwide.

From the team's press release

"We are pleased to welcome Tom Gores as the new owner of the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment," said Karen Davidson. "Just as my late husband, Bill Davidson, was the face of the Pistons, I am confident that Tom will bring the same energy, dedication and love to this organization. I look forward to seeing Tom follow in Bill’s footsteps, and carry on his legacy."


Mr. Gores is the Chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity, a global investment firm whose holdings include 34 portfolio companies in such diverse business sectors as technology, media and entertainment, industrials, metals processing, automotive supply, and distribution and logistics.

The firm specializes in navigating complex business environments, and Mr. Gores said he sees great potential for revitalizing PS&E and the Pistons franchise.

"I am very proud to have this opportunity to be part of such a tremendous organization," Mr. Gores said. "I know it’s been a long process and I appreciate the patience and support of the Detroit community. I have been impressed with the Davidson family and the way it has protected and built such a storied franchise. I grew up here, I am glad to be back, and I am very excited about all the possibilities looking forward."

Gores has made his fortune buying underperforming companies, turning them around and flipping them for a profit. It's far too early to speculate what his ownership style might be -- will he treat the Pistons like any other distressed asset in his portfolio in need of cost-cutting and efficiency, or does he intend to throw gobs of money at an expensive hobby?

No matter what attitude he takes, the Pistons' future is immediately brighter. Joe Dumars hasn't made a single trade since 2009 -- the longest any team has stayed still by a mile -- apparently handcuffed by an owner unwilling to take on any salary commitments while a sale was being negotiated.

When Dumars made mistakes in the past -- and he made a lot -- he was allowed to mitigate the damage and adjust course with trades (e.g. Darko Milicic flipped for Rodney Stuckey, Nazr Mohammed for Brezec/Herrmann's expiring contracts). But under Karen Davidson, Dumars' mistakes have instead been left to fester, leading to an unbalanced and unhappy roster.

With Gores in place, the handcuffs -- and the excuses -- will no longer exist.