Not one, but two, losses were brought upon the Detroit Pistons staff with the recent firing of head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy.
Thus meaning the Pistons now have two roles to fill.
General Manager Jeff Bower’s contract expires in June and there is a wavering uncertainty if he will be back in the Motor City for the 2018-19 basketball season. Assuming he gets a contract extension, the Pistons have two vital roles to fill and Bower will play a part in the coming decisions.
Detroit has a scary frontcourt of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Just before leaving the Pistons, Van Gundy brought the team Griffin, Willie Reed, Brice Johnson and a second-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a 2018 first-round pick.
Since the move was also influenced by owner Tom Gores, it is clear the Pistons are still in a win-now mentality, which the team has not done since making it to the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals – 10 years ago.
In four seasons, Van Gundy’s team went 152-176. The team made the playoffs in 2016 but were swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was clear Van Gundy had time to make the Pistons a playoff contender but failed.
Griffin made his debut on Feb. 1 against Memphis and helped Detroit to five-straight wins. The Pistons were 28-29 at the NBA All-Star Break, but fell to 39-43 by the end of the season and missed the playoffs by four games.
Missing the playoffs with a roster including Griffin, Drummond, Stanley Johnson and even an injury-plagued Reggie Jackson is inexcusable.
With a handful of promise in Detroit, here are some of the potential candidates for the head coaching and president positions.
With a 25-57 record as the head coach for the Orlando Magic in 2017-18, Frank Vogel was fired. When the best player on the team is power forward Aaron Gordon, the record makes sense. Vogel had nothing to work with in Orlando, but he did from 2010-2016 as the coach of the Indiana Pacers.
Like Detroit has now, Vogel’s team featured a tandem in the frontcourt of David West and Roy Hibbert. In turn, he was successful. Vogel took the Pacers to the playoffs in five of his six seasons. It is safe to say Griffin and Drummond have more potential together than West and Hibbert ever had, which could make landing in Detroit the perfect destination for Vogel.
Remember, Vogel also had a superstar in Paul George on his team for those playoff runs. The most important aspect is the 44-year-old knows how to work with big men in the NBA.
When Mark Jackson arrived in California to coach the Golden State Warriors in 2011-2012, the team had only been to the playoffs once in the last 17 years.
In his first season, the Warriors were unable to make the playoffs due to a lockout and season-ending injuries. The 2012-13 season was different, as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson rose under the guidance of Jackson, pushing Golden State to a No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.
Jackson has the ability to develop young talent into, well, superstars. If only the Pistons had a 2018 first-round pick for him to work with this year.
He was fired from the Warriors in 2014 and general manager Joe Lacob said it was due to the fact that “he couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization.”
Former Pistons shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse played 18 seasons in the NBA, of which 1998-2002 were for Detroit. Stackhouse is an unlikely option at head coach, but he is an option nonetheless.
Stackhouse’s first taste of coaching experience was as an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors in the 2015-16 season. He helped the team finish reach the Eastern Conference Finals before the Raptors had him take charge of their G-League franchise.
After taking the job with the Raptors 905, Stackhouse told Sam Fortier of The Ringer that he hoped his work in the developmental league would propel him to a head coaching job. In his first season, the 43-year-old took the Raptors 905 to a league championship victory and was named the 2017 Coach of the Year. This season, the team lost in the championship.
Stackhouse has proven himself in the G-League and has connections to the Pistons, making him a potential fit as the new head coach. However, he is also being looked at by the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.
Becky Hammon has broken through just about every obstacle she has faced. From going undrafted in the WNBA to being a coach in the NBA, she has experienced it all – except taking on a head coaching position.
Undrafted in 1999, she went on to play from 1999-2014, becoming a six-time WNBA All-Star and listed in the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time. Hammon also became the first full-time assistant coach in NBA history for the San Antonio Spurs and the first woman to be a head coach in the Summer League.
Hammon has something that not many coaches have, which is a piece of Spurs head coach Greg Popovich’s brain. The Spurs, sometimes with an old, depleted roster, have continued to have success under Pop in the NBA. For 18-straight seasons, the Spurs won 50 or more games until only 47 in the 2017-18 season.
Right now, Hammon is the fourth assistant in San Antonio. She recently interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks head coaching vacancy. The next step for Hammon is to move to the second assistant job on a team somewhere before advancing to a head coaching position.
The Pistons would provide a new environment for Hammon to grow as the No. 1 assistant and develop into a top-tier NBA coach.
PRESIDENT OF BASKETBALL OPERATIONS
The Cleveland Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals and won the NBA championship in 2016 under general manager David Griffin. After being named general manager in 2014, a jump from his first role with Cleveland as the vice president of basketball operations, Griffin drafted Andrew Winnings with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Griffin used the pick to trade for Kevin Love. He also signed superstar LeBron James and finished second in the NBA Executive of the Year Award voting for the 2014-15 season.
The Pistons need a front office member who can make moves via trade, sign the best players in the league and draft top players, all of which Griffin did successfully in Cleveland.
The main piece behind “The Process” was Sam Hinkie, the General Manager and President of Basketball Operations of the Philadelphia 76ers from 2013-2016.
Hinkie’s first move was trading Jrue Holiday and Pierre Jackson for the No. 6 pick in 2013 and No. 10 pick in 2014, which turned out to be Nerlens Noel and Elfrid Payton, respectively. Hinkie also made draft picks to get Joel Embiid and Jalil Okafor.
Using a handful of Hinkie’s players, the 76ers finished 2017-18 with a 52-30 record, good for third-best in the Eastern Conference. It was the first time Philadelphia made the playoffs since 2012.
The 40-year-old has proven himself as a member of the front office who can draft, trade and acquire picks for future drafts, which is exactly what the Pistons need.
Former Pistons NBA champion Chauncey Billups is an unlikely addition because he has no front office experience, but if there was a team that trust him, it’s Detroit.
“Mr. Big Shot” won the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award in 2004 and played in five NBA All-Star games. He is currently an analyst for ESPN and has always desired to run a basketball team.
Joining the Pistons front office is not the most attractive landing spot in the league unless. For Billups, it would be more of a reunion.