Hiring Van Gundy a bold step by Pistons
It’s a gamble, both financially for the Detroit Pistons and for the team’s future.
Owner Tom Gores hired Stan Van Gundy last week to coach the team AND serve as its president of basketball operations.
To lure Van Gundy, Gores had to fork over a reported $35 million over five years to the veteran coach.
That’s a lot of moolah.
Van Gundy can coach. The 54-year-old has a career 371-208 regular season record with Miami and Orlando. He’s also 48-39 in the NBA playoffs.
Of course, he also had star players such as Dwayne Wade and Dwight Howard helping him out.
With the Pistons, he has Andre Dummond, who could be a star some day but has a way to go to reach that lofty status.
But Van Gundy has no administrative experience. To ask him to take over a once-proud franchise that had become a disfunctional mess and turn it into one of the league’s best may be too much to ask.
Gores probably had to offer Van Gundy the head of basketball operations position to keep him from being nabbed by the Golden State Warriors – who later hired Steve Kerr – or the New York Knicks.
The Pistons also had to pay Van Gundy $10 million more than the Warriors hired Kerr for earlier this past week over the length of the same five-year contract.
Is Van Gundy worth the huge deal? We might not know for a couple of years.
He is being asked to change a basketball culture and put fans into The Palace seats. Van Gundy has to accomplish the first to succeed at the second.
The Pistons aren’t barren of players. Drummond and Greg Monroe – a restricted free agent whose future with the team is tenuous, at best – are two talented big men.
Guard Brandon Jennings can score, but he doesn’t share the ball as much as a point guard should.
Forwards Josh Smith and Kyle Singler are OK players, and both Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum can contribute off the bench from their guard positions.
But the Pistons’ team defense is horrible and its 3-point shooting is abysmal.
Poor team chemistry is also an issue, something that plagued the Pistons from the start of last season and cost the club 10-15 wins.
Van Gundy will be asked to improve all that and make the team a playoff contender, if not a club that goes deep into the postseason.
Good luck with that task, since the Pistons haven’t made the playoffs for five seasons.
Hiring Van Gundy is a bold step by Gores, one that no doubt says to the Pistons’ fan base he’s not afraid to make a drastic move to improve the fractured team’s fortunes.
One thing is for sure: If Stan Van Gundy the coach doesn’t work out, Stan Van Gundy the president of basketball operations can hire a new coach that would be the team’s 14th since 2001.
And Van Gundy the executive will still be pocketing $35 million.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is email@example.com.