Your Monday afternoon got a lot more interesting with the latest #Wojbomb. And whether you wanted to see Stan Van Gundy finish out the final year of his contract or a fresh start this summer, it’s a relief to all of us to have the final answer on the situation.
The Stan Van Gundy Era is over.
Four years and plenty of “what ifs.” SVG was the longest-tenured coach for the Pistons since Chuck Daly left in 1992. His tenure was also littered with shocking moments - most notably waiving Josh Smith and the Blake Griffin trade - so it’s rather appropriate that his departure comes as a pretty surprising Wojbomb.
So time to start looking forward.
Coaching and front office search
DBB will have a more comprehensive list of current candidates to come, so I’ll avoid that for now. If you need to whet your appetite, check out Jamie Delancey’s post from last month, though there’s now a few more candidates out there.
Significantly though, Tom Gores isn’t going to go the same route as with SVG, returning to the more traditional structure with the coach reporting to the front office.
Van Gundy met with Pistons officials within the hour and now team moves onto a search for a new President of Basketball Operations and coach. Those jobs will be separated now.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 7, 2018
So that may change the landscape on available candidates. Big name coaches are probably off the table if that’s a non-negotiable. Though there aren’t really a ton of big name coaches currently available out there.
The press release coming out to portray the move as a firing rather than a resignation is also noteworthy. Even though they aren’t calling it a firing...yeah, it’s a firing. While the franchise isn’t in the same spot as it was in it’s coach-killing days, it’s still noteworthy that coaches don’t tend to finish out their contracts in Detroit.
Lastly, their leverage is further reduced because the predecessor is going to have to like this roster. Because it’s probably not going to be particularly easy to break up.
The other available jobs out there include the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and Orlando Magic. The Bucks job is obviously the most appealing, being a playoff team with a legitimate superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo. But is Detroit’s opening any more exciting than any of the others?
So this coaching search may need to focus on lesser known, under the radar candidates. This is fine, as often times going with candidates with head coaching experience can also be called going with a retread.
Still, the Pistons generally haven’t had a ton of luck with first time head coaches. And whoever comes next will have their work cut out for them.
The biggest area that a coaching change could make a legitimate difference is on the offensive side of the ball. The Pistons finished in the bottom five in the league every year of the Stan Van Gundy Era. SVG is well-known for not harping on shot selection, so players are used to having a loose hand. A coach without a big reputation who starts riding players for something something they’re not used to...well, that could be a tough line to walk.
But that’s the biggest area where a new coach can make an improvement. Any coach being considered, first thing to look for is the team true shooting percentage for any sidelines they’ve strolled. Don’t pay any attention to the fluff pieces about how they’re the right person for the job because of this or that. Look at their teams’ TS.
If that looks good, cool. If not, be worried.
Let’s practice with Mike Budenholzer. They were a top 10 TS team in his first three years with Atlanta, 20th the past two with a gutted roster. That seems acceptable.
As I mentioned, it’s going to be tough to overhaul too dramatically. And in all likelihood, the reason SVG was fired probably has more to do with underperforming with the current group of guys rather than the roster that’s been assembled.
But with such a big change and a new perspective from the leadership, those new eyes might not see the current roster in the same rosy way.
So what would those changes look like? Are we talking about changes with a scalpel or a chainsaw?
A great question on Twitter:
You get hired as GM of the Pistons, whats the first move you try to make? This is what the roster and cap situation looks like for the next 3 years. pic.twitter.com/4lWUWsLXjN— Adam Davis (@daadvaims) May 7, 2018
What say you DBB?
The general manager search may tell us quite a bit about what to expect.
It is unlikely that a potential Detroit-Barry partnership would be for the role of President of Basketball Operations, league sources tell ESPN. Tom Gores and Arn Tellem are expected to pursue an experienced front office executive to run basketball operations. https://t.co/PO1z2jhYIN— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 7, 2018
So...that rules out Chauncey Billups too, right?
How closely tied to the Arn Tellem or Tom Gores camp could signal a desire to mostly stand pat. A full outsider though, all bets are off.
The actual, you know, coaching stuff
There’s no doubt that SVG had some flops on the coaching front. Much of it was understandable, but flops just the same.
The next coach needs to get Blake Griffin some help. Yes he’s talented, yes he’s good at creating for himself, but he will be better if he doesn’t exclusively have to create for himself.
The next coach needs to be able to survive if a starter gets hurt.
The next coach needs to figure out what a successful Stanley Johnson looks like.
The next coach needs to put the squash on this Andre Drummond shooting jumpers nonsense.
On the side of something SVG did right, the next coach needs to figure out how to keep a team full of below average defenders as an above average defense.
And as already noted, the next coach needs to get this team to an above average TS. Know the last time the Pistons have had an above average TS? 2002-03. They just cleared the 51.9 percent league average with 52.3 percent, good for 14th in the league.
Whoever is the next man or woman up for the coaching job, the franchise needs to commit to them. It’s way too easy to fall into the same old pattern of the coaching carousel.
They need to get a four or five year contract and they need to be given the breathing room to finish that contract. If we get a year or two into this thing and they’re already on the hot seat, they’re not the problem. Even if it’s a legitimately bad hire, they’re still not the problem.
This will be coaching hire number four for Tom Gores, if you include John Loyer for the interim job. Maurice Cheeks and Loyer were both disasters. SVG was ultimately a failure. If this one is a failure too, the problem is institutional.