The Detroit Pistons made yet another splashy front office hire.
One year after coaxing Stan Van Gundy back to the league, team owner Tom Gores has hired power agent Arn Tellem as vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment – the group that controls the Pistons. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has more on this surprising development.
Wasserman Media Group’s Arn Tellem, one of the most powerful and prominent player agents in the history of the NBA, is finalizing an agreement to become vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Detroit Pistons, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Tellem will answer directly to billionaire owner Tom Gores, but will not become the ultimate authority on the Pistons’ basketball decisions, sources said. That responsibility will remain with president and coach Stan Van Gundy, who signed a five-year, $35 million deal a year ago.
Wojnarowski also reports that Tellem, a University of Michigan alumnus, will essentially serve as the Pistons’ “ownership face” in the Great Lake State.
The 61-year-old began representing professional baseball and basketball players in the early 1980s. Last year, Forbes ranked him the third-most powerful sports agent in the world and first whose specialty is basketball. He famously helped a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant navigate the pre-draft process in 1996, restricting the prodigy’s access to teams after the Los Angeles Lakers expressed an interest in acquiring him.
Tellem boasts the most star-studded client list of any NBA agent. Prospective free agents LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol highlight a deep group that also includes the likes of Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid. Of special note for the Pistons is that Golden State Warriors’ star Draymond Green, a Saginaw native and Michigan State graduate, is represented by one of Tellem’s former colleagues with the Wasserman Group.
Might that play a role in the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up’s restricted free agency? It’s highly unlikely Green leaves the Warriors this summer, but that hardly means Tellem won’t prove influential to the Pistons’ basketball operations – regardless of his official title with Palace Sports and Entertainment.
Van Gundy even admitted as much in the team’s official statement on the matter. Via David Mayo of the MLive Media Group:
“His responsibilities may be focused on the business side but we won’t be shy about taking full advantage of his knowledge on the basketball side as well,” Van Gundy said.
This is an occurrence that could have sweeping effect throughout the NBA. If Tellem’s impact as a de facto decision-maker looms half as large as it did as an agent, will other teams follow suit by appointing power brokers of similar stature to front office positions? It certainly seems possible.