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NBA Free Agency 2015: Arn Tellem to join Detroit Pistons, leave Wasserman Media Group

One of the Super Agents is making a move to leave a lasting impression

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The main details here are that: Arn Tellem is one of the biggest sports agents in Basketball; he has a number of NBA Free Agents that he personally represents; he is leaving the Wasserman Media Group; and he is going to be joining the Detroit Pistons organization. More specifically, he is going to go from being the Vice Chariman of the Wasserman Media Group and become the Vice Chairman of Palace Sports & Entertainment. (The Pistons play in the Palace of Auburn Hills, a northern suburb of the Detroit Metro; think of PS&E like the LHM Sports & Entertainment branch of the LHM Group of companies, for an analogy.) Lastly, this transition is supposed to happen by August 3th. So it will be AFTER the initial rush of NBA Free Agency, but still there will be Free Agents left on the board. This may be a concern to some of his guys who are free agents this year and next. (N.B. These are not all-inclusive lists)

He'll be handing over the nearly Billion dollar company to (alphabetically) Aleksandar Raskovic, Arturo Ortega, B.J. Armstrong, Darren Matsubara, Greg Lawrence, James Dunelavy, Jason Glushon, Lee Melchioni, Makhtar Ndiaye, Michael Tellem, Sead Galijasevic, and Thad Foucher. Each of those agents already represent a number of players for the Wasserman Media Group, and appear to have their regional specialties.

Now, the question is to WHY is Arn doing this? I guess it's possible that he was visited last night by three Christmas Ghosts, or something of that sort; but more importantly he's trying to give a little back. And I guess this is why I am writing about this (aside from the obvious Free Agency implications). He went to Law School at the University of Michigan (a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Detroit metro). He appears to be want to be part of this urban renewal that's going on. As per the press release from the Pistons:

"Arn is one of the most accomplished and respected sports executives in the world," Mr. Gores said. "He has great passion, integrity and honesty, and he shares my belief that sports can be a catalyst for change in the community. He is an outstanding addition to our leadership team who will help us make a real difference in Detroit."

"Given his experience and all of his success, Arn could have gone just about anywhere and he chose Detroit," Mr. Gores added. "His excitement and enthusiasm about coming here says a lot about this community, about the Pistons tradition, and about the potential of the franchise. This is a big win for Detroit."

Mr. Tellem will report to Mr. Gores, and as a representative of ownership will have broad responsibility for business strategy, public affairs, planning and development, and strengthening the connection between PS&E and the community. With respect to the Detroit Pistons, Mr. Tellem will be responsible for business operations and league-related initiatives as one of the team's Alternate Governors on the NBA Board of Governors. The basketball operations organization headed by President Stan Van Gundy will continue to report to Mr. Gores.

Mr. Tellem said that joining PS&E and the Pistons - and shifting from being a representative of players to a representative of ownership - is a capstone of his long career in the sports business, which includes more than three decades as a player agent.

"The decision to change careers was in one sense a difficult one, because I am leaving a terrific job with great clients and an outstanding leader in Casey Wasserman, who I believe runs the finest sports marketing and talent company in the business," Mr. Tellem said.

"But in another sense it was an easy decision, because I am joining another great organization with an outstanding leader in Tom Gores, who is committed to ensuring Palace Sports & Entertainment is a championship organization both on the court and in the community," he said. "I am thrilled to take on this new challenge as part of the team in Detroit."

- Detroit Pistons,, 2015 -- via Detroit Bad Boys, SB Nation, 2015

Yeah. I have very strong feelings about Detroit, and I would move back there in an instant because I felt like that place wasn't ever going to get better if all the good people left it. I guess I am one of those deserters at this stage, and I feel really bad about it. Of course, this just isn't a feel good story. The Pistons are hiring this guy, he's going to get paid, and he's going to be there to help the team make strong deals in the future. The Utah Jazz, the team this website is theoretically dedicated to, know what this is all about. They hired Justin Zanik to be part of their front office, and he used to work for ASM Sports -- not quite as big as the Wasserman Media Group, but not a small one at all. (Justin's brother Jeff Zanik continues to work at ASM as a high up there.) It should be noted that since the Zanik hiring the Jazz have used that 'in' to get deals done -- just last Free Agency the Jazz got an extension with Alec Burks and signed UFA energy guy Trevor Booker. Both are ASM guys. (Another ASM guy was Chauncey Billups, which is why I really felt like he had a shot of joining the team; hence, my media campaign last off-season for him.) I would expect that the Pistons would now have a really significant 'in' with the WMG players.

This does change how things are done for Detroit; but also for all the other teams who may be looking at getting one of their players. This isn't just the case of the players Tellem personally managed being available, but all of the agents under Arn who are now getting his high profile clients will reciprocate and offer up all of their existing guys to Arn in return. That doesn't mean that the Detroit Pistons have increased their roster size by 100 new players. But it does mean that there is a very direct pipeline and relationship there.

The Wasserman Media Group does not represent any current Utah Jazz players, or former Utah Jazz players beyond DeShawn Stevenson (NBA Champion), Elliot Williams (10 day contract player / Old Spice guy lookalike) and Kendrick Perkins. But they always seem to get a number of good rookies every year. For example, this NBA Draft season they snagged Mario Hezonja. Last year they got Jabari Parker. You already know Anthony Davis is on their list. For a team that has to build through the draft you can't help but get in contact with the Wasserman Media Group from time to time. This is a good move for Detroit, and really shakes up the NBA Free Agency landscape.