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DBB on 3: What to do about Stan Van Gundy

With an unequivocally poor ending to the season all but guaranteed, we gauge opinions on where the front office might be come next season.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Even before the disastrous Florida trip all but sealed another playoff-less season rumors started flying about the potential fate of Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower (lovingly referred to here at DBB as SVB). It’s pretty natural to be less than thrilled about where the Pistons and its fans find themselves and looking for where to place blame is part of that. Doing so in an objective and productive way, well that may be tough for most...but here goes.

We asked our usual three questions to our staff here surrounding that very topic in order to gauge feelings in this time of darkness (well at least Spring is almost here right?!?!).

1. Attempting to put yourself in the mind of Tom Gores, what decisions do you think he will make concerning the Pistons management structure (including standing pat)?

Ben Quagliata: I think he’ll make a change. One playoff appearance in his ownership and something has to give. I think he’ll, at least, separate the HC and President of BBall Ops titles, if not completely overhaul the basketball decision making.

Sean Wheeler: When you hear the rumors coming out in the media recently, it appears Gores is going to make some kind of move. The most obvious appears to be promoting Arn Tellem to the role of President of BB Operations. I think Gores keeps SVG around to coach the final year of his contract.

Ben Gulker: I would relieve SVG of his responsibilities as President and allow him to couch of the final year of his contract. Then, I would part ways.

Justin Lambregtse: In terms of what Tom Gores will do, nothing. He appears to think highly of Stan Van Gundy, so I see no way he fires him. The only way I could see him being forced to make change is if Jeff Bower accepts the job in Charlotte.

Steve Hinson: I could see it going either way, standing pat or pulling Stan Van Gundy from the front office role. If I had to guess, I would say that he stands pat. Moving SVG out of the front office role really wouldn’t serve to accomplish anything other than a vote of no confidence, which isn’t particularly productive. After all, it’s not like SVG has welded his front office power with stuff like paying his mediocre son $35 million. Rather than wielding an iron hand, he’s actually deferred to Bower on a number of decisions.

Jordan Bellant: I see two possible outcomes:

1. A situation similar to Atlanta last year. SVG loses President position, stays on as Head Coach, team enters actual rebuild with new front office personnel.

2. SVG and Bower are fired and the team starts a search in April for a new President and GM, allowing the new front office to then choose a Head Coach.

2. If Tom Gores suddenly tapped you to sort this out for him what would you do? Include new candidates if applicable.

Ben Quagliata: I have a lot of respect for what SVG has done in the league but I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that his style is becoming a little antiquated. He’s tried once too often to force the glory days of 2009 onto this roster and it isn’t the right fix. I’m all for hiring a young, fresh coach and giving him 2-3 years, someone like Jerry Stackhouse or that ilk.

Sean Wheeler: Herein lies the problem. The grass is always greener. But I don’t know of any obvious head coaching candidates that would inspire a lot of confidence. As maddening as it’s been to watch this team implode the past two seasons, the team has been 11 games above .500 with a healthy starting PG in Reggie Jackson. I’m still very interested to see how they perform with him in the lineup for a full season, if the basketball gods will ever allow it.

Ben Gulker: Sean pointed to Arn Tellem who presumably gets the business side of personnel management, but what do we know about his talent evaluation skills? Chauncey Billups seems like a guy worth talking to. Regardless of who it is, ridding the franchise of Blake Griffin’s albatross contract should be priority number one.

Justin Lambregtse: I would clean house. I’m not too tapped into potential GM candidates, so I will just say Arn Tellem. I would try to stay away from Chauncey, but wouldn’t be mad if he was hired to a lesser role to learn from Tellem for a few years. As for coach, I would hire Jerry Stackhouse. He has done a great job with the Raptors’ G League team and also has a connection with the Pistons. I think he could be an outside of the box hire that could have room to grow.

Steve Hinson: I’d give it one more season, let SVG finish out his contract. If they show legitimate potential, win at least 46 or so games, renew on a three year contract. If not, part ways. If we do go a different direction with coaches this year, Jerry Stackhouse is my guy. The Raptors G-League team has had the best defense in the G-League each of his years coaching there, won the G-League championship last year, and he was Coach of the Year. He knows what he’s doing and could fit with a direction the Pistons should go - a defense-first, slow pace approach. That’s the only way this franchise has ever been successful.

Jordan Bellant: I would fire SVG and Bower, hire Chauncey Billups as President of Basketball Operations. I would bring back Ken Catanella as General Manager and hire Jerry Stackhouse as Head Coach.

3. How much would you put the blame for the current state of the team on things in SVB’s control (personnel moves, coaching) vs out of their control (injuries, players who didn’t perform to expectations or develop)? Give a rating out of 100% (i.e. 50/50).

Ben Quagliata: 3. 60% SVB, 40% external. Jon Leuer sucked before he went down so I don’t really put much weight into his injury but Reggie Jackson’s ankle problem derailed this team. They were comfortably in the playoff picture with him at the helm and with him out, they’re comfortably a bottom 5 team. That being said, the coaching at times has been atrocious. Luke Kennard has been criminally under-utilised, as has Langston Galloway. Stan’s insistence to rely on Ish Smith in crunch time is maddening and this team cannot defend the three point line to save themselves. To be fair, I credit SVG with a few things:

1. More efficient possessions for Drummond - less post ups

2. Managing Stanley better, including using him off the bench

3. Using Reggie Bullock and James Ennis well.

But yeah, hop on board the SS Sinking Ship, places are filling up fast…with water.

Sean Wheeler: 30% SVG, 70% bad luck. It’s clear SVG isn’t a perfect coach. Even with a healthy Jackson, his system has been flawed and frustrating at times. As a GM, he and Bower have been very good. They’ve acquired starting quality talent in exchange for spare parts every season. The biggest flaw in roster construction is the lack of Plan B for Jackson’s injuries. One could argue they should’t be this much worse without him, but the drop off has been astounding. That said, you have to imagine what this team would look like when fully healthy, and from the little we’ve been able to see of that, it’s hard to argue they wouldn’t be an up-and-coming playoff team stocked with intriguing young talent. It’s a tough call.

Ben Gulker: On the one hand, the Pistons are probably a Playoff team with a healthy Jackson prior to the Griffin trade, although things were slipping before he went down. On the other hand, SVG completely failed to build PG depth, which was an obvious hole after last season. Almost everything other than the Reggie injury is on him, and it’s been a disaster. The offense is broken. Luke Kennard is racking up DNP’s because reasons. The franchise is already a top-five spender going into next season without any additions. Griffin’s contract is already one of the five worst in the NBA and will only get worse. Overall rating: SVGIAFI.

Justin Lambregtse: I would say 75/25. Obviously the injuries to Reggie Jackson suck and are partly to blame, but this team is built to be way too reliant on Reggie Jackson. SVG has been a terrible coach who takes way too long to make changes and isn’t creative enough. I like some of the moves the team has made, but their cap situation is very scary and there isn’t much of a way out of it and not many ways to improve. They haven’t done a good job thinking ahead.

Steve Hinson: 50/50. The Drummond post up experiment was simply idiotic, but blame can be split between the player and coach. By and large the roster building strategy has made sense and there’s more talent here than when SVB first started, it’s still not great and of course capped out. It’s a middling franchise at this point and everyone is to blame. The good news though, if they all pull their shit together next year, they’ll all get equal credit too! Ugh.

Jordan Bellant: I think it’s 60% the fault of SVB. They overhauled the roster, made some good moves but not enough to improve the talent level of the franchise. I think they struggled to find a balance between being competitive and remaking a roster from scratch. They took over a pathetic situation and upgraded it to frustrating. Gores can’t go without blame!


So that’s a bit of how we’re feeling this current situation might end up moving forward, how do you feel? I well know we have some passionate pro and anti SVG/SVB’ers out there...let’s hear what you have to say, what ideas you might propose.

Please if you’re so inclined copy/paste the questions and give us your answers or just let fly as you see fit.

1. Attempting to put yourself in the mind of Tom Gores, what decisions do you think he will make concerning the Pistons management structure (including standing pat)?

2. If Tom Gores suddenly tapped you to sort this out for him what would you do? Include new candidates if applicable.

3. How much would you put the blame for the current state of the team on things in SVB’s control (personnel moves, coaching) vs out of their control (injuries, players who didn’t perform to expectations or develop)? Give a rating out of 100% (i.e. 50/50).