Sports Business

Drive fills leadership roles

June 30, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Rex Walters
Rex Walters is the head coach of the Grand Rapids Drive. Photo via

The Detroit Pistons have named a new general manager and head coach of the organization’s NBA D-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive.

Jon Phelps has been named the Drive’s general manager, while Rex Walters will be the new head coach, replacing the recently promoted Otis Smith.

“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 Pistons. “We look forward to working with both of them.”


A 2004 graduate of Siena College, Phelps spent the previous two seasons as the Drive’s director of basketball operations.

Prior to his career with the Drive, Phelps was an attorney in New Orleans. He earned his J.D. with a sports law certification in 2012 from Tulane University School of Law.

At Siena College, Phelps was a student manager of the men’s basketball team and spent a season as the director of basketball operations.

“We’re confident he will continue to do a good job and transition well into this new role,” Van Gundy said.


Walters takes over as Drive coach following eight seasons at the University of San Francisco, including two 20-win seasons and two postseason appearances.

The Nebraska native was named the West Coast Conference coach of the year in 2013-14.

He has a 157-158 record as a collegiate head coach, between eight seasons at USF and two at Florida Atlantic University.

“Rex Walters brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and experience and has a passion for developing young players,” Van Gundy said. “He’s spent some time with us here and already has a good understanding of how we operate.”

Walters played in 335 NBA games in seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat. He was the 16th overall draft pick in 1993 by the Nets.

He also played professionally in Spain following his NBA career.

In college, Walters played for Northwestern University before transferring to University of Kansas, making a Final Four appearance in 1993. He was named Big Eight male athlete of the year that season. 

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