Dwane Casey is finally here, officially the head coach of the Detroit Pistons with a lucrative contract and a five-year deal. Unfortunately, it looks like the rest of his coaching staff is likely to stay put with the Toronto Raptors and it is unclear who Casey will turn to fill out his bench.
When a new head coach gets hired, especially one with head coaching experience, it is common that he brings a raft of assistants with him to his new job. They know each other, like each other, trust each other, and run a system everyone is familiar with.
Just recently Mike Budenholzer brought five assistants with him from Atlanta to Milwaukee. Steve Clifford added four assistants from his Charlotte staff to his new home in Orlando.
Casey, though, is unlikely to pull anything like that off because his former top assistant, Nick Nurse, is replacing him in Toronto and the expectation is that Nurse will retain most if not all of the current staff for a very good Raptors team.
It’s an even more extreme version of what David Fizdale and the New York Knicks are going through. Fizdale was hired in early May but only started officially fleshing out his coaching roster in June. He left Memphis and was replaced by JB Bickerstaff on an interim basis. When Bickerstaff was given a multi-year deal to remain head coach he was able to keep most of his coaching staff with him.
Fizdale managed to pull away Keith Smart from Memphis but that was it. Instead, he had to look at other organizations to build his staff — Jud Buechler from the Lakers, Pat Sullivan from the Clippers and Royal Ivey from the Thunder.
That’s not to say that Casey can’t build a quality staff in Detroit but it’s late in the year, the team doesn’t even have a general manager hired yet and he can’t rely on a pipeline from Toronto to Detroit.
That’s a shame, too, because the Raptors have built an enviable organization both in the front office and on the bench, and being able to pluck fruit from that tree could have done wonders for a Pistons franchise on its heels in the wake of the Stan Van Gundy firing, a decade of irrelevance and expectations to win right away.
Casey will be introduced officially by the team sometime next week and I will be interested to see if he has anything to say about how he expects to fill out his coaching staff.