After Joe Dumars recently walked away, the Detroit Pistons don’t currently employ a regular general manager, but according to one writer, that apparently doesn’t mean they haven’t been thinking about who might be the franchise’s next head coach.
Saturday, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News quietly fed those flames of speculation, suggesting the Pistons had contacted Stan Van Gundy about being the team’s next head coach, while also mentioning Detroit “had interest” in UConn’s Kevin Ollie. Both will be in play for other jobs, with the Golden State Warriors potentially interested in Van Gundy and the Los Angeles Lakers appearing intrigued by the possibility of scoring Ollie.
Early talks with Van Gundy and Detroit, Lawrence suggests, went nowhere when the Pistons refused to let Van Gundy have power of personnel decisions. Ollie, meanwhile, is one of the more exciting names from the collegiate game just off an exhilarating run to a national title, and a man who could be perfect on any NBA sideline, including the one in Detroit, thanks to his 13 year career and history of leadership.
Connecticut, though, might be determined to keep their prize around Storrs for a bit longer. In the same piece, Lawrence reports that the university is working hard on a lucrative extension for Ollie that would raise his contract from $1.4 million a year to $3 million, given they know teams will be calling soon. That’s a sizable amount of dough, yet still probably not enough money to dissuade an interested NBA franchise.
The real headline is the Pistons’ apparent interest in weighing coaching candidates before hiring a general manager. It could be a sign that the team is already confident in their ability to land the general manager of their choice and is attempting to get an early start on a new staff. Perhaps they’re on a fact-finding mission with regards to the pros and cons of providing a coach like Van Gundy with personnel power. Either way, the move to look at coaches before general managers is putting the horse significantly before the cart.
It’s one isolated rumor, so consider the source and move on for the time being, but remember the names Van Gundy and Ollie in the weeks ahead with regards to the Pistons’ other major job opening this offseason.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax