Owner Tom Gores wanted a big name to control his Detroit Pistons' direction. He's found his man.
Stan Van Gundy, the former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic coach, has reached an agreement with the Pistons to take over as both coach and head of basketball operations, a person with firsthand knowledge of the Pistons' plans told the Detroit Free Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contract has not been finalized, though it could be by the end of the week.
Van Gundy, 54, has a 371-208 (.641) record as a head coach. But Gores is taking the bold step of giving Van Gundy total control over personnel.
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The person added that a general manager would be hired to report directly to Van Gundy.
The Golden State Warriors were interested in Van Gundy for their coaching vacancy, as USA TODAY Sports reported, but can't offer the allure of final call on personnel decisions.
Van Gundy will join the Los Angeles Clippers' Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich as the only coaches with full authority over personnel decisions. (Popovich has ceded many responsibilities to general manager R.C. Buford, the 2013-14 NBA Executive of the Year Award winner, but still holds the title of team president.)
Coaching and acquiring personnel often require different skill sets — a coach might have desires that result in short-term gain where an executive has to weigh long-term ramifications.
But obviously the Pistons would love it if Van Gundy produces Spurs-like results.
Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings tweeted, "I've always like Stan Van Gundy."
Van Gundy reached the NBA Finals with the Magic in 2009. Three years earlier, he resigned 21 games into the 2005-06 season with the Heat; Miami went on to win the NBA championship under Pat Riley, who also was the team president.
Van Gundy coached Shaquille O'Neal with the Heat and Dwight Howard with the Magic. The Pistons offer Van Gundy the chance to work with another talented big man in Andre Drummond.
In the front office, Van Gundy would replace Dumars, who was re-assigned at the end of the season, following 14 seasons as president of basketball operations. Van Gundy also would be replacing interim coach John Loyer, who took over the team when first-year coach Maurice Cheeks was fired in February after only 50 games.
Loyer is under contract through next season, so there is a chance he would remain as an assistant coach.
The Pistons haven't reached the postseason since 2009, the longest drought in the Eastern Conference.
Van Gundy spoke with an Orlando radio station last week about a possible return to the NBA.
"Part of me does, and part of me doesn't," Van Gundy said. "Look, we're so happy in central Florida. It would really have to be a great situation for me to get back in.
"I miss a lot of it. I really do. I miss the competition. I miss the challenge. I miss the camaraderie of it. But I also like the time that I've had, so we'll just have to see what happens. You weigh every situation."
Vince Ellis writes for the Detroit Free Press.
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