'Alaskan Assassin' Adding to Duke Basketball Power in NBA

Trajan Langdon's career trajectory is emblematic of the ever-strengthening Duke basketball presence across the NBA.
Former Duke basketball players Trajan Langdon and Grant Hill
Former Duke basketball players Trajan Langdon and Grant Hill / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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There are roughly two dozen active NBA Blue Devils, including a reigning All-NBA First Team selection in Boston Celtics centerpiece Jayson Tatum and three others remaining in the ongoing Conference Finals. A few former Duke basketball players are serving as general managers. And program legend Grant Hill is a part owner of the Atlanta Hawks.

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Plus, there's Hawks head coach Quin Snyder, along with various assistants and scouts throughout the league. To top it all off in terms of reach and popularity, look no further than one ESPN lead NBA broadcast team member in all-time Duke basketball points leader and podcast star JJ Redick, who just so happens to be a top candidate to become the next Los Angeles Lakers head coach.

That's not to mention Duke is the alma mater of current NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Adding to all of that, one of the Blue Devil treasures among the league's general managers now appears set to accept a job title not listed above. As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Thursday, the Detroit Pistons are working on a deal to hire the New Orleans Pelicans' 48-year-old Trajan Langdon as the franchise's new president of basketball operations:

"Pistons owner Tom Gores is hiring Langdon with sweeping power to make changes to the organization and set a course for the franchise's future after a league-worst 14 victories and several consecutive years in the draft lottery, sources said."

Speaking of NBA Blue Devil power and influence, it's worth pointing out another Duke-related nugget in Wojnarowski's report: the Pistons' search for a new president of basketball operations "included coordination with TurnkeyZRG managing director Billy King."

Of course, King, former team president of the Philadelphia 76ers, was the 1987-88 NABC Defensive Player of the Year as a Duke basketball senior.

As for Trajan Langdon, he was the silkiest high-volume 3-point shooter in Blue Devil history before JJ Redick arrived in Durham a few years after the "Alaskan Assassin" graduated.

The Anchorage native, a three-time All-ACC First Team honoree and consensus All-American as a senior for a Duke basketball squad that finished 37-2 overall and undefeated in conference play, averaged 14.5 points for his college career while shooting a blistering 42.6 percent beyond the arc.

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Matt Giles


Matt Giles is the editor and publisher of FanNation's Blue Devil Country and All Tar Heels, covering the Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tar Heels on SI.com.