Last week, it was revealed that the Detroit Pistons were perhaps interested in gauging Stan Van Gundy’s interest in becoming the team’s next coach, but the sticking point within early talks between the sides was that Detroit was leery of ceding any front office powers to Van Gundy.
What a difference a week makes. Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Pistons were chasing Van Gundy to become the team’s next head coach and team president with final say over basketball decisions, and Van Gundy was seriously considering the offer. Their main competiton was coming from the Golden State Warriors, who made Van Gundy their top choice for head coach after sacking Mark Jackson last week.
One advantage the Pistons may hold as the tipping point in negotiations is the caveat of front office power. Van Gundy likely wouldn’t have that opportunity with the Warriors, who have an established general manager and team president. Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News reported later that an NBA source of his believed Van Gundy was “very close to a deal” with the Pistons, which could come in the next 48 hours. ESPN’s Marc Stein followed up on Twitter by saying Detroit was simply waiting on Van Gundy’s signature.
While Van Gundy would run most things within the organization, Wojnarowski also reported that if he was to come to Detroit, Van Gundy could hire Otis Smith as his general manager. The two worked together during Van Gundy’s tenure in Orlando with Smith serving as the Magic’s general manager, and have a comfortable working relationship. That move could allow Van Gundy more time to work on coaching and running other aspects of the team, which could be good news considering he’s never held a major personnel role.
In Miami and Orlando, Van Gundy had plenty of success as coach, taking both franchises to the Eastern Conference Finals; the Heat in 2005 and the Magic in 2009, while getting Orlando to the NBA Finals in the same year. He also has worked with numerous big men before and developed rosters around them, including Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, which could be appealing to Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Van Gundy’s teams have also been very defense-oriented, which is good news for Detroit.
The only major question mark that remains: what kind of NBA executive would Van Gundy be? News that he would consider hiring a general manager from outside could help alleviate some of those valid worries.
According to most of the sources, Van Gundy’s final decision one way or another is expected to come within the next few days, so stay tuned.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax