The Detroit Pistons and president of basketball operations and coach Stan Van Gundy have parted ways after the team failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Van Gundy met with Pistons officials on Monday afternoon, league sources said.
“We have decided that this change is necessary to take our basketball organization to the next level,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision and we did not come to it lightly. I am grateful to Stan for everything he’s done for the Pistons and for the City of Detroit. He rebuilt the culture of our basketball team, re-instilled a winning attitude and work ethic, and took us to the playoffs two years ago. He went all-in from day one to positively impact this franchise and this community.”
As president of basketball operations and coach, Van Gundy had full authority on player personnel and staffing, but Gores had suggested changes — including ones related to general manager Jeff Bower — that Van Gundy resisted, sources said.
Bower will continue to operate as the GM, league sources said. He is expected to lead Detroit’s contingent at the draft combine in Chicago next week and oversee the team’s individual draft workouts and draft planning. The rest of the front-office staff is expected to continue, too — until further notice. Most of Detroit’s front-office contracts expire this summer.
One candidate expected to be strongly considered for a role in a revamped Pistons front office is Brent Barry, sources told ESPN.
The Warriors attempted to hire Barry in a scouting position last summer but ran into complications because of his ongoing TV commitments, league sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. The two sides even discussed a potential part-time arrangement that would have allowed Barry to fulfill his TNT duties, with the understanding he would come to Golden State full time upon the expiration of his TV contract, but the talks fell through, sources told Lowe.
Barry isn’t expected to be a candidate to oversee the Pistons basketball operations but rather play a complementary role in learning the front-office business, league sources said. Gores and chairman Arn Tellem are expected to try to hire an experienced league executive to oversee the front office.
Tellem, a longtime agent in the NBA, will not become the president of basketball operations or general manager, but he could have an expanded role beyond the business side, sources said.
Van Gundy and Gores had been talking about a way to move forward together for two weeks, and much of that discussion had centered on the future role of Bower, league sources said.
Bower, whom Van Gundy hired and trusted implicitly to run the day-to-day operations of his front office, met separately with Gores last week, league sources said. Bower is in the final year of his contract.
Van Gundy had one year, $7 million left on his original five-year deal, but most of his front-office and coaching staff were in the final year of their contracts.
“Stan is a competitor and he wanted to finish the job,” Gores said. “He retooled a roster that we think can be very competitive in the East. I know he’s disappointed, and that he cares deeply about his players, his staff, this organization and this city. He’s also a professional who will make sure this is a seamless transition, and someone I hope will be a friend and adviser to me long after this transition is completed.”
Van Gundy and Bower engineered the Blake Griffin trade in January, but the Pistons played without starting point guard Reggie Jackson and Griffin because of injury for much of the final stretch of a 39-43 season. Together, Griffin and Jackson were 8-4. With Jackson in the lineup, the Pistons were 27-18 on the season.
The Pistons missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season after earning the eighth seed and losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round of the 2015-16 Eastern Conference playoffs, Van Gundy’s second year on the job.
Van Gundy and Bower had inherited a floundering franchise in need of an overhaul, and the Pistons improved from 32 to 44 victories and a playoff berth that year.
Van Gundy has missed the postseason in three of his four years on the job, although the franchise could be well positioned for a return to the playoffs with a healthy roster next season.
He has also coached Miami and Orlando, posting a 523-384 record.