Ilitches Eyeing Pistons?

Detroit’s Ilitch family already owns Olympia Entertainment, the NHL’s Red Wings and MLB’s Tigers, but rumors are flying that they may be looking to expand their holdings with a purchase of the NBA’s Pistons as well.

The Ilitches apparently have a longtime friend in Atlas Oil president Sam Simon, who’s been a Pistons season ticketholder for years.

Crain’s Detroit Business recently reported that a possible investment consortium between the family and Simon has been bandied about – and not denied – along with other offers for the team.

But the real catch could be if Pistons owner Karen Davidson, who inherited the franchise when her husband died last year and announced her intent to sell in January, decides to sell the Pistons as a package with Palace Sports & Entertainment.

PSE operates the team’s home Palace Of Auburn Hills, Meadow Brook Music Hall and DTE Energy Theatre. Olympia operates the Joe Louis Arena, Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, Cobo Arena, City Theatre and Masonic Temple Theatre.

Together, the holdings could equal sports and entertainment domination in the region, especially with a major competitor out of the picture. Also, the Palace is extra attractive because the arena is paid for.

PSE recently filed suit against several former employees who jumped ship to Olympia Entertainment, alleging violations of trade secrets and breach of contract, among other claims.

Even Pistons president Joe Dumars has been rumored to be looking elsewhere. The Record reported he recently interviewed with the New Jersey Nets to replace outgoing president Rod Thorn. However, Dumars said in a statement he had no interest in leaving Detroit.

“My priority is to continue leading the Pistons’ basketball operations efforts and putting together a team that is ready to compete and get back on track next season,” he said.