Just minutes after the "Stan Van Gundy to the Detroit Pistons" rumor mill started spinning, ESPN's Brian Windhorst appeared on Matt Dery's show on Detroit Sports 105.1, offering some insight both on what he's heard about the Pistons' coaching and front office search to date as well as the Pistons' reputation around the league. You can listen to the entire segment here, the most interesting parts I've transcribed (and emphasized) below.
"I think that Stan is a guy who can be picky at his jobs," said Windhorst. "He has turned down jobs before. And he looks around the league and he sees a guy like Doc Rivers who comes in and gets full control and when he left Orlando it was a situation where there was a player that basically got management to fire him, and he doesn't want that to happen again. He doesn't need the job, and if you have a situation where you have an opening where you have a front office opening and a coach opening, that's attractive to a guy like Stan Van Gundy."
"The owner rating on Detroit ... is not positive"
The Pistons are reportedly negotiating a contract that would make Van Gundy one of the highest-paid coaches in the league -- perhaps in part because no one wants to work for Tom Gores. "A big thing on jobs right now is dealing with the owner. And the owner rating on Detroit, Cleveland and Golden State is not positive," Windhorst said. "If you do research, people do not say good things about those ownership groups in terms of working for them.
"They're all good businessmen, they're all very smart, they're all self-made billionaires, and certainly civic leaders, all three of them, but they've been very difficult to work for. And they do not exactly value stability. Dan Gilbert is on his fourth general manager and he's fired his fourth coach, the Pistons have fired two coaches in the last two years, Joe Lacob just fired a guy who gave him his first 50-win season in 20 years, these are not situations that are all that beckoning, especially to a guy like Stan Van Gundy who can be selective.
"And to me, your biggest sales point isn't necessarily your roster or your salary cap space or the weather in your city, it's, is the owner going to let me do my job and not jump on me if I have a bad year or a bad 50 games? That's a huge factor in what's going on.
"Lionel Hollins basically got fired in Memphis because he wouldn't play ball with the new ownership. I think Lionel Hollins is a guy who's a good candidate in Detroit, but he's got to be assured that when he gets the job that he's not going to have ownership deciding they want to change how the team operates within a year.
"Whether it's right or not, and Tom Gores would probably take strong opposition on this, the word in the league is that he's a very difficult guy to work for. And that is a major factor when looking at these jobs. And I know that if I was a coach that could pick my job, I would try to find an ownership group that I was more comfortable with ... before I'd be willing to jump back in."
Izzo was offered the job?
Windhorst also appeared to confirm the rumor that the Pistons offered full control to Michigan State's Tom Izzo. "Minnesota has gone big-name hunting and been told 'no,' so they've got to be realistic about it, too," he said. "But in Minnesota, you're going to be working with a much more stable ownership situation. If you're a coach and you're offered Detroit and Minnesota, then to me, I'm interested in Minnesota. Because I know there's more stable ownership and leadership there. And maybe you're like Tom Izzo and you get offered both? You say no to both. That's a possibility too."
In the time since Windhorst appeared on the show, we've seen reports that the Warriors have stopped talks with Van Gundy, with the sticking point being control of the front office. But at the time of Windhorst's interview, he suggested SVG might actually be trying to play the Pistons and Warriors against each other.
"Well, there may be some leveraging going on here, too," he said. "The word that I have on what's going on in Detroit is they're letting their head-hunter go on and vet the entire market. And they're not in any rush, they want to see what happens. You don't necessarily want to make a hire in early to mid May and then find out that something else more attractive comes along in early June that you could have waited for.
"And so I think that was the path that they were on, they wanted to investigate everything and they were not moving quickly. And now that you see this happening, at the same time Stan Van Gundy is trying to get what he wants probably in Golden State -- let's be honest, Golden State's a better job than Detroit. It smells of a leverage creating situation. So I would be very careful if I was the Pistons. I would not want to be used as somebody's leveraging ploy."
Even if Gores is willing to cede control of the front office, he can't change the weather, which has been a sticking point for SVG in the past. Windhorst explains: "I also know that Stan has told anybody who would listen that he's not moving to cold weather, that he doesn't want to live in a cold weather city again, that he's lived in Florida now the majority of his life, his kids like it there, his kids do not want to move to a cold weather city. So to me, for him to go to Detroit, it would have to be an absolute sweetheart package. And that's probably what's he's asking for. It doesn't mean he's going to get it or this is going to work out."
"He would bring in his own guys to do the day to day grind"
As for Van Gundy's lack of front office experience, Windhorst did point that SVG gained some exposure to that side of the business working under Pat Riley with the Miami Heat. He also essentially predicted the Otis Smith rumor, even if he didn't call out Smith by name.
"He hasn't really done it before, but in Miami when he was there ... they had a very small staff in Miami, and I know that Stan was very much involved in all there draft preparations and things like this, so his history in the league is he's been with people who have done this before, he's seen how it's done. I'm sure if it would happen he would bring in his own guys to do the day to day grind, that he would trust."
"But I think this is really a scar that he's dealing with from being in Orlando, where he had to deal with management -- and in that case it was the president, it wasn't the general manager, but the president who was dealing directly with the top player, scheming on what to do. That really bothered and irked Stan so much that he took it public."
Bonus Mark Jackson news
This has nothing to do with the Pistons -- especially if Van Gundy his hired -- but hell, I transcribed it, so I'll dump it here. Windhorst offered his thoughts on Mark Jackson, suggesting it might not be easy for him to quickly find another job.
"I think Mark Jackson is going to actually have some problems getting another job," he said. "I do think he will get one, because he generally had a very good run there, but he's going to have a lot of explaining to do about what went wrong this year, and some of the shine on him from his ability to be a great orator may be a little off. He's got to speak more and talk about more of his mistakes. So it wouldn't surprise me if Mark Jackson doesn't necessarily get instantly back into the league."
Big breath ... now your thoughts.