The Detroit Pistons have officially hired Stan Van Gundy as their head coach and president of basketball operations. The deal reportedly spans five years and is worth approximately $35 million, but the Pistons haven’t released the details due to team policy.
Van Gundy, 54, was also being pursued by the Golden State Warriors. He most recently met with their management on Monday. He is believed to have chosen Detroit because they offered him full control of basketball operations — something the Warriors were not willing to do.
The deal will give Van Gundy more job security than the Pistons have given to head coaches in the immediate past. Detroit has now been through four different head coaches since 2009. The previous coach, Maurice Cheeks, lasted only 50 games before he was fired.
Van Gundy will replace Joe Dumars as president of basketball operations, a title Dumars held for 14 years. Controlling basketball operations as well as coaching, he will join the likes of the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and the Clippers’ Doc Rivers.
This will be Van Gundy’s first coaching gig since 2012 with the Orlando Magic, where he was relieved of his duties following his fifth season. The firing occurred during the drama-filled saga of Dwight Howard wishing to be traded.
He led the Magic to a 259-135 record, making the playoffs in five straight seasons. He coached the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
Before the Magic, Van Gundy was the coach of the Miami Heat from 2003 to 2005. He resigned mid-season in 2005 due to what he named family reasons, but it was heavily rumored that he was forced out by Pat Riley.
Overall, Van Gundy has a career winning percentage of .641, good for the sixth best among those who have coached over 500 games. He has never missed the playoffs as a head coach either.
Pistons fans have got to be elated with this hire, I know I am. Van Gundy is known for his defensive approach and no-nonsense style. He is a proven winner and an experienced leader. These qualities will be needed as he takes the reins of a team that has missed the playoffs in five straight seasons.
Van Gundy is going to bring Detroit back to the defensive dominance that has made them champions in the past. He has a knack for bringing out the best defense in his teams; teams he’s coached have finished top 10 in defensive efficiency six times.
Andre Drummond may stand as the biggest benefactor from this hire. Van Gundy took control of the Magic at the beginning of Dwight Howard’s fourth season. He took a raw athlete and molded him into a defensive and rebounding force. Howard took home three straight NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards under Van Gundy’s tutelage.
Van Gundy will now lead the Pistons at the beginning of Drummond’s third season. Drummond has the talent and the athleticism, and can bring his game full circle with Van Gundy, who once coached Howard and Shaquille O’Neal.
I expect Drummond will soon enforce a Howard-like presence on the court to anchor the Pistons down low. The sky is the limit for the 20-year-old center.
I think the Pistons have hired an outstanding basketball coach. Despite the fact that he has no experience in management, this puts Detroit immediately back into the Eastern Conference mix. This guy knows the game of basketball and has already proven to be an excellent head coach.
The roster has the pieces, now Van Gundy has to put them together. It’s not going to be easy, but the Pistons have hired the right guy to get the job done.