ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting that Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons have agreed "in principle" on a five-year, $35 million deal that makes Van Gundy the team's head coach and president of basketball operations. Vincent Goodwill tweeted that the deal will be signed in a couple hours.
Tom Gores said he wanted a "name" and he certainly gets that with Van Gundy, who joins the Los Angeles Clippers' Doc Rivers as one of only two in the league with the dual titles. Van Gundy reportedly had an offer to coach the Golden State Warriors, but turned them away when they refused to give him the type of control the Pistons are obviously willing to cede.
Van Gundy coached the Miami Heat to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2005, where he lost to the Pistons. During that series, he called Pistons fans some of the nastiest in the game. Van Gundy resigned in December 2005 after rumors swirled that president Pat Riley was trying to run him out of town. Two years later -- sound familiar? -- he was hired to coach the Orlando Magic.
In his first season with the Magic, Van Gundy coached the team to an improved 52 wins and a division title before losing to -- surprise, surprise -- the Pistons in the Eastern semifinals. The Magic went to the NBA finals the next year and the conference finals after that. But after four straight 50-win seasons, Van Gundy lost his magic, figuratively and literally -- he told the media in an infamous interview in 2012 that his star big man Dwight Howard wanted him fired. He was fired a month later, two weeks after his team lost in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Van Gundy takes over for a Pistons team with a very similar, if not already better, star center in Andre Drummond. (Drummond will be 21 next season; Howard was 22 in Van Gundy's first season with the Magic.) An NBA executive told Detroit Sports 105.1 radio host Matt Dery that Van Gundy will make Drummond a Defensive Player of the Year within two years.
We'll have more soon on what you might be able to expect with Van Gundy -- Otis Smith may be an inevitable addition -- but it's difficult to not be kind of excited about the Pistons hiring a coach with proven experience developing a young star like Drummond, a coach who also happens to have the sixth highest win percentage in NBA history.
What say you, Pistons fans? Have you 'always like' SVG?