Marc Stein: Before the Blake Griffin trade, the buzziest thing that was coming out of Detroit, and I’ve heard this from multiple rival teams in the last couple of weeks, there seems to be an anticipation that Arn Tellem, who, of course, is one of the most successful agents in this league’s history, and has been running the Pistons business side for two-plus years now, there is a lot of chatter that, don’t be surprised if Arn Tellem ends up running the Pistons basketball operations in the near future.
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Not that Van Gundy is likely to be terribly concerned about the down-the-road financial implications of this trade for the Pistons should the Griffin/Drummond tag team fail to flourish. The deal comes with Van Gundy running out of time to deliver some certifiable progress in the fourth season of a lucrative five-year deal to serve as Detroit’s coach and team president. It also comes at a time when rival team executives have been buzzing about the prospect of longtime player agent Arn Tellem, who has been heading up the Pistons’ business side as vice chairman of Palace Sports & Entertainment since June 2015, succeeding Van Gundy as the head of Detroit’s basketball operations.
You’re in your fourth year here and have made the playoffs once. Do you have to balance the franchise’s long-term plan with your own need to win now? Stan Van Gundy: Nah. I’ll be 59 this year. I’ve done this in the NBA for a long time. Financially, I’m set, I don’t need the job to support my family, to live my life. I know people have a hard time believing this, but I don’t feel pressure. Pressure is what a lot of people in our country go through — you may lose your job and how are you gonna support your family? I have been really, really lucky. I’m not gonna be a guy coaching into my 70s, probably not even into my mid-60s. I told my wife when we came here, this was gonna be the last job, however long it ran.
So you truly don’t wonder or worry about job security? Stan Van Gundy: It’s not even an issue for me. Now, I will say I feel a responsibility to all those people up there (pointing to the Pistons offices) who have worked hard and done a good job, and I feel a responsibility to the players and fans. But on a personal level, I don’t worry at all. I think my brother (Jeff Van Gundy) had the best line, which is, ‘Getting fired doesn’t hurt, it’s all the stuff leading up to getting fired that’s painful.’ People talk about, ‘Oh, the heat’s on.’ I’ve had a lot of coaches say, the firing actually takes away the pain. There’s gonna come a day, and at that point, I’d say thanks for the opportunity, wish everybody well, and move on. I like this job and I want to make it better, but if it ended tomorrow, I’d be at peace with that
Owner Tom Gores said he still has faith in Van Gundy, who signed a five-year deal in 2014. “Do I believe in Stan? Absolutely,” Gores said Wednesday during a news conference prior to the season-opening 102-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets at Little Caesars Arena.
“Do I feel good about the model? I feel good about the model,” Gores said. “Stan has a lot of support around him, whether it’s (general manager) Jeff Bower, and then he has support that probably (media) don’t even know about. He has a lot of support. So, I believe in the model. We’re seeing this through, absolutely.”
Gores said his goal for the team is to be competitive and return to the playoffs. “My consultants told me not to say we have any expectations, but truth is we do,” Gores said. “We have to be competitive. That’s what Stan wants. Of course, we want to get into the playoffs. If there’s a moment I sit up here and tell you we’re not, I think you should fire me.”
The team has lost three games in a row, six of their last seven and appeared lifeless, again, Friday in a 115-87 blowout loss to the Orlando Magic. Van Gundy chose not to address his team after. “I mean, his message is to win,” Pistons forward Tobias Harris said. “So, to be honest, if that’s not getting through — that’s an issue. Coach wants to win. We all to want to win. But if that message isn’t getting through, especially with the position we’re at right now and what’s at stake, I mean, it’s disappointing.”
Asked Wednesday after a blowout loss at Chicago, Van Gundy said he was unsure whether players had stopped listening to him. Then Friday, when asked if his players had given up, he replied: “I don’t know, you’d have to ask them.”
“Everybody’s really, really frustrated,” Van Gundy said. “We’re struggling with the mental part of it right now. We’re just trying to free up their minds a little bit, and get them to playing basketball, and enjoy playing basketball again.”
“The energy has been zapped. … The frustration of not playing well – of the ball not going in the basket, of taking some losses and things like that – can get you to lose your energy. Lose your intensity. Lose your fight a little bit, and that’s what we’ve been going through.”
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February 17, 2018 | 10:10 pm EST Update
Ryan Wolstat: Devin Booker wins the three-point shootout with 28, beating Klay Thompson and Tobias Harris. Klay had 25
Derek Bodner: Devin Booker: “My preparation was none. My rookie year I stayed at the gym extra, shot off the rack a lot more. This time I just got here, practiced right before I went out there and ended up coming out with the win.”
Mark Medina: Klay Thompson on if he will play 3-point shootout in Charlotte next year. “Maybe. We’ll see. It’s a long ways away man. Just trying to get through the weekend.” Steph expressed uncertainty earlier this week, too.
Chris Dempsey: Jamal Murray wants to participate in it again. “I want to do the skills again. It’s a fun event. A lot of people want to pass over the skills and just go to the dunk contest or the 3-point contest. But to watch it and be in it are two different things. It was a lot of fun.”