As everyone awaits the Stan Van Gundy introductory press conference scheduled today at 4:15 p.m. ET, Van Gundy gave an interview to an Orlando radio station where he dished on some of the key issues he'll likely be asked about this afternoon including his role as head coach and president of basketball operations, building a team around Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe and what the future holds for Detroit basketball. Here is a rough transcript of that interview, which you can listen to in full here.
H/T to DBBer Kriz who noticed it first and dished out the juiciest bits in comments.
Q: Will you continue to live here during the offseason or will you move to Detroit.
Stan Van Gundy: I think when you're doing these jobs there's really not an offseason. There is a season where there is no games going on. Just as we did in Orlando I think that you need to engage in the community that you live in. It can't be a temporary stop. We are going to try and get engaged in the Detroit area.
Q: As Bill Parcells once said if you're going to cook the meal you should be able to buy the groceries. How big of a deal is it to "buy the groceries."
SVG: It's not even that so much. It's really not. I will hire people on the player personnel side. I will have final say but they will make most of those decisions. What I like is that it‘s getting hard, at least in the NBA, as you look around, there's so many organizations where the front office and the coaching staff, ownership all of those pieces aren't on the same page it's a little divided. In this situation it just gives us a chance to build a very unified organization where everybody is pulling in the same direction and I think that gives you a lot more chance for success.
Q: With the way the situation in Orlando I'm assuming that sort of taught you that you do want to be on the same page as everybody else, right?
SVG: Yeah, but it doesn't have anything to do with Orlando. ... I had a tremendous situation in Orlando. I was very fortunate. The ownership group there, the DeVos family, was great to me. I worked for a general manager that I have the utmost respect for that did a great job at building a team that we could be successful with and helping us to do our job. There were no negatives in Orlando.
It didn't end great, but as my brother said, "it always ends badly that's why it ends."
Q: Stan, will Otis be someone you consider?
SVG: Absolutely. If that's something that he's interested in. It has to be an interest both ways. Absolutely. I tell people all the time, I got here and I inherited a team that had won 40 games and was losing Grant Hill, Darko Milicic and Tony Battie got hurt so three guys that were really key to their playoff run the year before I got here. They lost all of those guys and the next year we win 52 games and the reason is that Otis Smith went out and got Rashard Lewis in the offseason. Just a huge acquisition that really changed the way we played and allowed us to become the team we were.
And then in our second year we got off to an unbelievable start and Jameer Nelson went down and Otis salvaged the season with a great midseason trade for Rafer Alston. This is a guy who had tremendous success in building and a team and understanding what it takes. Of course, anytime I would get a job he would be a guy that I would want to work with.
Q: Otis has been very low key. How is Otis doing? Is he still engaged in basketball?
SVG: Oh yeah, he's watching and everything else. And Otis, look, he's a laid back guy and he's doing things here. He and I have stayed in close touch. We get together and have lunch. We talk and text on a regular basis.
That's one of the best relationships I've ever built. I thought he was great as a GM and he is a great, great person and somebody whose friendship I treasure.
Q: You are the president of basketball operations in Detroit. Could you ever fire yourself as the coach?
SVG: There's one advantage and one disadvantage of this job. I was telling Scott Skiles, actually, the other day. I now have a reasonable chance of getting along with the front office since I am the front office, I said, but the problem our organization has is that both our president and head coach, both of them are jerks, so there could be some conflict.
Q: Now that you are in the front office. You've been very adamant in your role as a commentator that you are against tanking to get really good draft picks. Are you going to be able to hold to that now that you're in the front office.
SVG: I think it's a lot easier to hold to, Mike. I mean, when you're the guy that has to sit down there every night uhh, I don't think tanking is an option. Look, our owner Tom Gores is one of the big reasons that I took this. My first meeting with him really sold me and his vision, and it's a challenge, is build for the future but win for as much as you can now. In other words, we're going to try and win but in the meantime we're not going to, or at least we're going to try not to screw up our salary cap and take away flexibility and trade draft picks and things like that. We're going to consistently build for the future but we're trying t owin. I mean, this is a team that won 29 games last year and we want to be in the middle of the fray in the Eastern Conference.
I wouldn't have taken a job under the circumstances of people wanting to tank games. That's just not something that I'm up for. It may be good strategy for some people but it's not one that I'm interested in. It's not one my owner is interested in so we are moving ahead with a very aligned vision of what needs to happen.
Q: Any similarities in the team you're taking over in Detroit to the team that you took over in Orlando with a young big man to build around?
SVG: Well, that is really the only similarity. And it's more than ust one big man. We've obviously got a guy in Andre Drummond that has a chance t be a megastar in this league just like when we got Dwight here. But we've also got Greg Monroe who is probably a top 10 big guy in this league who is also very young. So you've got two guys who are under 25 at 6-10 in a league that doesn't have very many big guys. We've got great talent.
We do not have the people yet, around. We don't have the similar type of people around. We don't have the shooting that we had. I mean, Otis gave me a team in Orlando with Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu. We started the year with Keith Bogans but we had JJ Redick and then we added pieces like Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee. I mean, we always had great, great shooting. That is actually a weakness of our roster here in Detroit right now and something we will be looking to change in the next couple of months.
Q: Obviously you had options. Did staying in the Eastern Conference with the way the Western Conference is so competitive. So many good teams. Was it enticing to you to stay in the Eastern Conference?
SVG: To me, jobs, I'm not a guy, I don't look at rosters going in and all of that because those things can change. You can change them for the better or you can change them for the worse and it's the same thing with conferences. I think that jobs, not just in my business but in your business or anywhere else it comes down to who you work with and who you work for. If those things are good, if you're aligned with the people you work with, if you're working with really good people that you enjoy being around that share your values then you have a great job and a chance at great success and that is only thing that I was looking at.
I was very interested in the Detroit position from the minute they approached me. But after I had met with Tom Gores and then his partners with the ownership of the Pistons I was sold. We're on the same page. He wants to do things the way I want to do things and I'm just excited to get going.
Q; Not that long ago the Pistons were one of the model franchises in the NBA. What happened? Was it just bad moves or bad luck and can the Pistons get back?
SVG: Well, certainly I hope they can get back. That will be up to me and the team I put together to make sure that that happens. But look, what happened was the natural progression of time. It was age. I mean, that last championship team was Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince. And that was only in my first year in Orlando that was there lineup and they were a great team. And Tayshaun prince is the only one playing in the league right now and he's not playing real effectively. You know, it happens over time. Their core aged and now you go through a transition period.
The transition has been longer and not as successful as they would have liked but the biggest problem is, and I say this to people all the time, and you forget this whether you are a Magic fan or a Pistons fan or anyone else. The biggest challenge in this league is the other 29 teams in the league are trying to figure out how to be great too. Sometimes it's just, you know, other teams are doing it better than you are. Things run in cycles unless you're the San Antonio Spurs. Things run in cycles and we're going to try and get it on an up-cycle.