SBD/May 15, 2014/Franchises

With Dual Role, Pistons' Stan Van Gundy Must Balance Win-Now With Long-Term

Van Gundy’s reputation is hardworking, no-nonsense, straight-shooting
Pistons Owner Tom Gores in naming Stan Van Gundy coach and President of Basketball Operations is "betting that he just hired" the next Gregg Popovich or Doc Rivers, a "talented coach with the skills to think globally and who is ready to manage nearly every level of a franchise," according to Shawn Windsor of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The Pistons currently have "talent but no sense of how to play," and "no one is going to the games." The Pistons have "built a reputation as a coach’s graveyard," so Gores "had to make a bold play." Gores "isn’t putting at risk a team on the verge of a parade" next season, but rather "gambling that this coach and now boss can rebuild a fallen culture." That meant "forking over money ... and power" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/15). In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes, "The only way the Pistons’ double down on Stan Van Gundy could even remotely work would be if Van Gundy the coach honestly and objectively listens to the advice from Van Gundy the president of basketball operations." The jobs "stand at opposite perspectives." The coach "lives in the moment," while the "chief of the front office must properly balance two necessities -- winning today while also best positioning the team to win tomorrow" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/15). CBSSports.com's Zach Harper said of Van Gundy, "The total control, though, that concerns me because that's a lot of responsibility in today's collective bargaining agreement environment." But he added, "I do like the fact that they went out and got the best coach" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 5/15). The FREE PRESS' Vince Ellis writes, "No one doubts Van Gundy’s coaching acumen. But can he juggle both hats?" Gores is "willing to take that risk." Van Gundy’s reputation as "a hardworking, no-nonsense, straight-shooting individual should serve the Pistons well." Van Gundy is "obviously a smart guy." The expectation is that he "will construct a strong front office for support" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/15).

WALKING A FINE LINE: GRANTLAND's Zach Lowe wrote, "The dual role Van Gundy will play is tricky. Lots of high-profile guys have officially had both the coach and GM titles, including Don Nelson, Larry Brown, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, and Doc Rivers." Guys who "wear both hats must be wary of chasing short-term wins over long-term health." But Van Gundy should be "insulated from these dangers." The team "will hire a full-time front-office steward." The five-year deal also "gives Van Gundy security to think big-picture for a franchise that badly needs that kind of thinking." No team has had "a more miserable last half-decade" (GRANTLAND.com, 5/14).
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