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Pistons hire Rex Walters as new Grand Rapids Drive coach, Jon Phelps as General Manager

Some front office tinkering.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A little over a couple weeks ago, Stan Van Gundy restructured his staff, bringing former Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith to the Pistons' bench to serve as an assistant coach and director of player development. Smith coached the Grand Rapids Drive for the past two seasons. If you missed that piece of news, here's the quick gist from the two-week-old press release:

Pat Garrity has been promoted to assistant general manager, Andrew Loomis to chief of staff and Bob Beyer to associate head coach. Otis Smith joins the Pistons' staff as director of player development/assistant coach while assistant coach Brendan Malone will transition to a special assignment scout, residing in New York. Quentin Richardson is leaving the organization for personal reasons.

The Pistons announced on Wednesday that they have filled Smith's void with one of Stan Van Gundy's former players with the Miami Heat and created a general manager position to take over all of the responsibilities that Loomis and Jon Phelps previously handled.

Here is the press release from the Pistons:

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Detroit Pistons announced Wednesday that the team has named Jon Phelps as general manager and Rex Walters as head coach of the Grand Rapids Drive - the NBA D-League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"We're fortunate to be able to fill these two positions with guys we feel very comfortable with," said Stan Van Gundy, president of basketball operations and head coach of the Detroit Pistons. "Jon was in Grand Rapids with the Drive the last two years so there's familiarity and continuity there. We're confident he will continue to do a good job and transition well into this new role. "Rex Walters brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and experience and has a passion for developing young players. He's spent some time with us here and already has a good understanding of how we operate. We look forward to working with both of them."

Phelps spent the last two seasons as director of basketball operations with the Drive. Previously, he was an attorney at a civil litigation firm in New Orleans, LA. Phelps attended Tulane University School of Law, earning his J.D. in 2012 with a certification in sports law. While there, he was a research assistant for Professor Gabe Feldman, a renowned expert in sports law. As part of that experience, Phelps spent time extensively studying the collective bargaining agreements of both the NBA and NFL.

A 2004 graduate of Siena College with a degree in English, Phelps served as a student manager for the men's basketball team and, after graduating, spent one season as director of basketball operations for the Saints.

Walters spent the last eight seasons as head coach of the men's basketball team at the University of San Francisco where he guided the Dons to two 20-win seasons and two postseason appearances. USF finished in the top three of the West Coast Conference twice in the last six years, including 2013-14, when they tied for second with a 13-5 conference mark. During the 2013-14 season, the team finished with a 21-12 record, tied for second in the WCC with a 13-5 mark and earned a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. The 21 victories marked the Dons' highest win total since the 1981-82 team posted a 25-6 record while their 13 conference victories were the most since the 1976-77 team went 14-0 in league play while spending most of the season ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Walters, a native of Omaha, NE., was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2013-14, becoming the first USF coach to win the award since Pete Barry in 1980-81. Walters amassed a 126-125 record at USF. Prior to becoming head coach at USF, he served two seasons (2006-08) as head coach at Florida Atlantic University and posted a 31-33 record. Overall, Walters is 157-158 (.498) as a collegiate head coach.

Drafted 16th overall in the 1993 NBA Draft by New Jersey, Walters played seven seasons with the Nets, Philadelphia and Miami. He averaged 4.6 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 335 career NBA games. He also played professionally overseas in the Spanish League following his NBA playing career.

A standout player at the collegiate level, Walters began his college career at Northwestern University where he was an honorable mention All-Big 10 selection in 1989-90 as a sophomore after he led the team in scoring (17.6 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.473) and assists (125). He then transferred to the University of Kansas where he led the Jayhawks to back-to-back Big Eight titles (1991-92; 92-93) and one Final Four appearance in 1993. As a junior, Walters averaged 16.0 points per game in helping Kansas to a 27-5 overall mark as the Jayhawks were ranked as high as second in the nation in the final AP poll. He averaged 15.3 points a game as a senior and Kansas advanced to the Final Four, where they lost to North Carolina in the semifinals. A two-time All-Big Eight selection, Walters started 60-of-61 games and averaged 15.7 points a game and shot 40.2 percent from three-point range during his two-year career at Kansas. He was named the Big Eight's Male Athlete of the Year in 1993.

Walters earned his bachelor's degree in education from Kansas in 1993.