The Detroit Pistons agreed to a six-year $78.5 million deal to acquire their new head coach.
After a lengthy search process, the Detroit Pistons have agreed to the largest coaching deal in NBA history with former Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams. The six-year deal is worth $78.5 million. Reports also confirm there is a team option for a seventh and eighth year in the contract.
The Suns let Williams go after losing in the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets. Detroit redirected its head coach hiring process once Williams became available. The team had their finalists narrowed down to three finalists in Charles Lee, Kevin Ollie, and Jarron Collins until they turned their attention to Williams.
Detroit's front office had been on the hunt for a new head coach for almost two months. Former head coach Dwane Casey announced his resignation after the final regular season game against the Chicago Bulls in April. After numerous attempts, the search finally concluded with the Pistons landing the former 2022 NBA Coach of the Year.
This new deal has brought a major leap in optimism with the fan base. After finishing last season 17-65, wishes were definitely hopeful for better positioning at the top of the draft.
Pistons President Tom Gores pulling off this acquisition shows that the front office is serious about winning soon. While it's too early to predict a lofty increased number of wins or a playoff berth, there are still some important things to look out for in Detroit.
Here are some of the biggest developments to expect from the Detroit Pistons after bringing in Monty Williams:
Williams' nine-year head coaching career has seen plenty of success with a 367-336 record. One of the biggest credits of his coaching is his ability to maximize the talent of young players. Considering the young and talented nucleus of this Piston team, this was an opportunity that caught his attention during the interview process.
Detroit currently has the second-youngest roster in the NBA with first-round talent looking to emerge in the league. Williams has an impressive track record of developing young players and he should be able to work wonders with the Pistons' future with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren.
Some of William's best success has been helping the growth of his backcourts. In his first head coaching run with the New Orleans Hornets, he helped turn point guard Chris Paul into one of the best at his position in the entire NBA.
That partnership continued to blossom when Paul was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Phoenix Suns. Williams not only turned Phoenix into a Western Conference threat but they were led by the stardom of their backcourt with Paul and star shooting guard Devin Booker. The Suns also saw a needed emergence from their young forwards Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. Williams even helped center Deandre Ayton average a double-double despite the rocky relationship between the two.
Detroit certainly has hopes of a similar turnaround to what Williams brought to Phoenix. Choosing a coach with a winning background over the development options they were interviewing shows that winning is a true priority. That must be done by developing the likes of Cunningham, Ivey, and Duren as quickly as possible.
Establishing a Team Identity
While Williams has earned immense respect for how he relates to his players, that credibility extends to his gameplay creativity on offense and defense as well. The Pistons want to start playing winning basketball and will need an established identity by the coach.
Last season, Detroit led one of the most inefficient offenses in the NBA with lots of over-dribbling, turnovers, and bad shooting. They struggled all season offensively finishing 28th in offensive rating per NBA.com. The stagnant offense also ranked 28th in passes per game, 27th in assists per game, and 1st in dribbles per touch.
Detroit's offense desperately needs adjusting, and Monty Williams' offensive philosophy could be the perfect solution. Phoenix ranked top ten in the NBA in offensive ratings in two of the past three seasons. Last season they finished outside of the top ten after dealing with a multitude of injuries and trading for superstar Kevin Durant.
Williams' offense emphasizes quick ball movement with lots of off-ball screening. Below is a video from Drawing the Defense highlighting the creative offensive packages used by the Suns.
Williams' offensive creativity should do wonders for the playmaking of their guards. Duren also has displayed his passing touch which could create an advantage for Detroit.
The Pistons should also be able to establish a defensive identity as well under Williams. Phoenix ranked top ten in points allowed over the last three seasons. That could be Detroit's potential as their experience and roster continue to grow.
Aggressive Draft and Free Agency
This head coach signing signifies the Pistons are looking to start winning sooner than later. With a foundation of players and a head coach with a successful pedigree, it's time to build a winning supporting cast around them.
That roster construction begins June 22 when the NBA Draft starts. Detroit got little help from the NBA during the draft lottery after falling to the No. 5 selection. General manager Troy Weaver exclaimed that the Pistons “will be excited to draft at five and add another young player.” Weaver has made the most of his draft success finding five All-Rookie players since 2020 and three of those five players were drafted outside the top five.
The Pistons are also in an advantageous position where plenty of teams after them in the draft are looking to move up. Weaver has a history of cashing in draft-day trades to boost the roster and could be looking to do the same this year.
Detroit is also working with the third most cap space in the NBA for free agency. Now having Monty Williams in the fold, the Pistons will be looking to add players who can help them get on a winning path. After spending the past few seasons adding young developing talent, Detroit needs to turn its attention to finding proven veterans that help the direction of this franchise.
Targeting free-agent forwards like Cam Johnson and Jerami Grant makes a lot of sense for the Pistons. Grant is a veteran and former Piston who could fit seamlessly in the frontcourt for the right price.
Johnson is currently a restricted free agent with the Brooklyn Nets. However, the price he demands on the market could be too much for Brooklyn to match, and might agree to a sign and trade. Johnson also fits Detroit's need for a three-and-D player, especially considering the close bond he had with his former coach Monty Williams.
One of the toughest parts of creating a winning roster isn't only about the players add, but the pieces you must subtract. After stacking the roster with lots of unproven young talent, Detroit needs to start solidifying its roster with winning players it can build with.
The Pistons have a logjam of bigs in their frontcourt who may not stick around long-term. Duren has shown major promise of being the franchise center of the future. We also have seen brief success from Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III, and James Wiseman in Detroit. It's unrealistic to believe they all will stay on the roster.
Some of their offensive styles may not mesh under the coaching of Williams. Spacing and shooting are important aspects of contribution for bigs to provide in his system. Those are skills many of Detroit's bigs are still working on. Under a timeline to start winning, there may not be enough minutes to go around for them all.
Expect Weaver to pitch one of the mentioned front-court names either this offseason or by the trade deadline. Now is the time to add some finishing touches to Detroit's foundation. Maximizing the smarts of Monty Williams and their young core may come with the tough price of trimming the roster down.