ESPN’s Marc Stein on Tuesday evening reported that the Detroit Pistons have hired former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy as head coach and to be their president of basketball operations. Van Gundy and the Pistons agreed to a 5-year $35 million deal.
First off, I love this hire. Van Gundy has a career coaching record of 371-208, that’s good for a winning percentage of .641 in two and a half seasons with the Miami Heat and five seasons with the Magic. He led Orlando to an NBA Finals appearance in 2009, losing to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
Second off, I think the Pistons’ basketball scheme itself will change. Van Gundy likes to have one dominant big man and surround him with shooting. In Miami he had Shaquille O’Neal and surrounded him with a bunch of shooters like Damon Jones, Keyon Dooling, Eddie Jones, and Rasual Butler. The only non-shooter was Dwyane Wade. In Van Gundy’s second season with Miami in the 2004-05 season, the Heat shot 37.7% from deep which was 3rd in the NBA.
In Orlando, he had Dwight Howard and surrounded him with a bunch of shooters like Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Courtney Lee, and Mickael Pietrus. That formula led Orlando to four 50-win seasons, three Southeast Division titles in five seasons, two conference finals appearances, and an NBA Finals appearance.
In Detroit, he has his big man in Andre Drummond. However, there are no shooters on this roster at all. The Pistons were 29th in the league in 3-point shooting at 32.1%. Jonas Jerebko led the team in 3-point shooting at 41.9% but only attempted 74 3’s in 64 games. Detroit has non-shooters Greg Monroe and Josh Smith on the roster and it’s a real possibility that with Van Gundy on board that they’ll both be gone if Van Gundy wants to continue his four shooters and a big man philosophy. I personally can’t see Monroe leaving, but Smith? He might be gone this offseason, much to the happiness of many Pistons fans out there.
Van Gundy has mentioned that he wants to hire former Magic GM Otis Smith to be the Pistons’ new GM. Smith and Van Gundy were very close in Orlando and that tandem was in Orlando for their glory years.
I’m going to be cautiously optimistic about this. Remember, we all got excited about this season and it was a complete dud and a failure. I just don’t want my heart ripped out by this team again. We’ll have to see what happens, but Van Gundy is definitely a step up from John Kuester, Lawrence Frank, and Maurice Cheeks.