SBD/May 14, 2014/Franchises

Pistons Reportedly Hire Stan Van Gundy As Coach, President Of Basketball Operations

Van Gundy could hire an experienced personnel person to serve as GM
The Pistons have "reached an agreement in principle" with Stan Van Gundy to "make him their new coach and president of basketball operations," according to sources cited by Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sources said that Van Gundy and the Pistons have "verbally agreed to a five-year pact" worth an estimated $35M, with an official announcement expected as early as today. The Warriors had "strong interest" in Van Gundy, and sources said that they had established him as their "top target to succeed the ousted Mark Jackson." But the Pistons "managed to trump Van Gundy's hometown team with the offer of personnel control on top of coaching duties." The Pistons have been "looking for their own new face of basketball operations for the first time in more than a decade" after parting with Joe Dumars last month. Pistons Owner Tom Gores "settled on Van Gundy and elected to give him final say over basketball decisions -- despite Van Gundy's lack of front-office experience -- to trump the lure of going back to his native Northern California to coach the Warriors." It is believed Van Gundy will "hire at least one experienced personnel man" to serve as his day-to-day GM (ESPN.com, 5/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Warriors were not "willing to make an allowance for Van Gundy to have final say on player personnel." They had been "willing to pay Van Gundy" in the five-year, $25-30M range to coach, but officials "ultimately don't believe money is the motivating factor for Van Gundy in his decision." Sources said that Van Gundy will "look closely" at hiring former Magic GM Otis Smith to help lead the front office (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/13).

AGGRESSIVE MOVE: In Detroit, Bob Wojnowski writes the Pistons were "hunting for a way to make an impact, to restore some credibility," and with "decisive clarity, that’s what they just did." Van Gundy provides "instant credibility, which is why the stakes were so high" for Gores. The price was "steep but the risk is worthwhile," as Gores "had to do something bold." Gores is "fully accountable" for the Pistons' recent struggles, which is "better than no one being accountable." The Pistons have "been in disarray since owner Bill Davidson died -- players didn’t trust coaches who didn’t trust management who didn’t trust ownership who didn’t trust coaches." This is an "aggressive move by Gores for the right reasons, because it makes basketball sense." Van Gundy "doesn’t stand on pretense, and he should fit in a franchise once known for embracing the dirty work" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/14). Also in Detroit, Vince Ellis writes the Pistons "would be joining the Clippers (Doc Rivers) and the Spurs (Gregg Popovich) with an organizational structure where the power rests with the coach." Meanwhile, interim coach John Loyer is "under contract through next season, so there is a chance he would remain as an assistant" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/14). ESPN Radio's Tom Waddle said the Pistons are going to give Van Gundy "some time." Waddle: "They had 29 wins last year. Management there has to understand that this is going to take a little bit of time to turn this thing around" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 5/14). SI's Chris Mannix said the "opportunity to build your team from scratch has to be incredibly appealing for a guy like Stan." Mannix: "It's a home run decision for Detroit" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 5/13). 

ATTENTION GRAB? In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes "nobody disputes" that Van Gundy "knows his basketball." But if this was the "best chief executive that the headhunting firm Gores commissioned to engage in a far-reaching personnel search could come up with, it’s yet another example of the Pistons being more interested to engage in what’s expeditious rather than what’s the correct path for a franchise desperately seeking a complete rebuild." The best candidate is "often the guy you never heard of, somebody unearthed through exhaustive diligence," but the Pistons "opted for an attention grab." This was "another public relations move for Gores," and another "attempt at convincing an increasingly disinterested public that NBA basketball is still relevant in this community" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/14).

BAY WATCH: In San Jose, Tim Kawakami writes it is "no surprise" that the Warriors declined to let Van Gundy take control of basketball decisions. That "couldn't have surprised Van Gundy, either, if he has been paying attention to how [Owner] Joe Lacob's front office works." Ceding all basketball operations power "to anybody would essentially mean" pushing GM Bob Myers aside, "blotting out" Advisor Jerry West and Assistant GM & Dir of Player Personnel Travis Schlenk, and removing Lacob himself from day-to-day oversight. Kawakami: "That just isn't going to happen" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/14).
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