The definitive agreement announced Friday to sell the franchise should go a long way towards cleaning up its unsightly state of affairs.
Current owner Karen Davidson, who has been trying to sell the team since last season, reached an agreement to sell the Pistons, The Palace of Auburn Hills and two concert venues to 46-year-old billionaire financier Tom Gores and his investment firm, Platinum Equity. Terms were not disclosed, though the sale price is believed to be less than $400 million. The league's Board of Governors must approve the final agreement.
The lengthy process profoundly affected the ability of president of basketball operations Joe Dumars to make personnel changes. Since the team was put up for sale, the only significant move Dumars made was to sign Tracy McGrady to a one-year contract.
"It affects Joe more than it affects us," said center Ben Wallace, whose team plays at Charlotte Sunday. "It doesn't usually get down to us but in terms of going out, making decisions, whether it's signing other players or trading guys or whatever, I think that's going to help him out. His hands are sort of untied. Now he can go out and make moves and try to get us back on track to where we need to be."
Of course, that's contingent on Gores retaining Dumars in his position. No one quite knows what Gores' plans include, though he's not expected to move the franchise to downtown Detroit or anywhere else.
Gores is buying the club at a tricky time because of the potential lockout this summer but he's well aware of the situation. He also knows he might be getting a bargain in the long run. Palace President and CEO Alan Ostfield said the team's attendance is off 10 percent this season and Pistons revenue is down just under 10 percent.
"We had eight great years of playoff runs and six in the Eastern Conference Finals," Ostfield said. "We're in a downward cycle and he's well aware of that. Considering the challenges this organization has faced from a basketball perspective, being off 10 percent is not all that bad."
Karen Davidson didn't have the same passion for the team as her late husband and longtime owner Bill Davidson. Things haven't been the same since his death but there's finally a sense that the team can begin a new era.
"It's no easy task following Mr. D.," Ostfield said. "Those are some gargantuan shoes to fill and Tom seems to be incredibly excited and willing and able to fill those shoes."
PISTONS 110, BUCKS 100: The Pistons won their 28th game to surpass last season's victory total as center Chris Wilcox scored a season-high 27 points Friday. Detroit shot 50 percent from the field and outscored the Bucks 24-10 on second-chance points. Rodney Stuckey had 22 points off the bench.
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