Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy have set a meeting for next week to discuss Van Gundy’s future with the franchise, league sources told ESPN. The two had initially planned to sit down late this week, but the meeting was pushed back, leaving the Pistons organization to await word on how, if at all, the franchise’s structure could be altered.
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Most of Van Gundy’s front-office staff, including general manager Jeff Bower, are in the final year of their contracts and are operating without clarity on whether they’ll be employed beyond the spring.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and President/Coach Stan Van Gundy will meet next week to discuss Van Gundy’s future, league sources tell ESPN. Van Gundy has one year left on his contract. There had been an initial plan to meet late this week.
Drummond admittedly clashed with Van Gundy in the past, but has matured to the point where he counsels younger players when they catch a taste of Van Gundy’s ire. But he admitted the decision is above his pay grade. “I don’t really control that,” Drummond said following the Pistons’ 119-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls. “I don’t control what happens in the front office or what happens with the coaching staff. Stan has been around the longest of all my coaches so it’s definitely been great to grow with him these last four years. I’m not sure what the summer is going to bring, but we’ll see what happens.”
Just a throw-in when the Pistons acquired Marcus Morris from the Phoenix Suns in July 2015, Bullock has emerged in his fifth season as a viable starting shooting guard. “(Van Gundy) is a great coach,” Bullock said. “He is definitely a motivator and wants to win. He wants the best out of this team and knows he can get the best out of this team. We struggled this year, we missed the playoffs, it was a goal of ours, but we have time to go back into the summer and work on our games and try to come back with a better attitude. Whatever direction the organization takes is the direction that they feel is best for the team. My part is to go out there and play as hard as I can for the organization.”
Gores isn’t necessarily against allowing Van Gundy to lead both the front office and the bench. “I see value in the front office and the court being connected,” he said.
“I wouldn’t make a decision without Stan,” Gores said at halftime of Monday night’s 108-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors. “He’s been our partner for four years.” Gores said changes need to be made because the team isn’t winning enough, adding none will happen until he speaks with Van Gundy. The two are expected to meet next week. “I think he deserves the conversation,” Gore said. “He’s been good for us.”
Rod Beard: #Pistons Gores on what he needs to see from SVG: “We have to make some changes. I’m just not sure what they are.”
Rod Beard: #Pistons owner Tom Gores addressed the media at halftime. No immediate sense of whether SVG stays or goes.
James Edwards III: #Pistons owner Tom Gores said he and SVG will meet next week, likely in California, to talk about the future. Nothing new.
Rod Beard: Interesting from #Pistons Gores on seeing Reggie and Blake play together: “It’s just a small sample, so we can’t get confused by that. Blake’s been a great addition; he’s a real leader. I don’t think I’ll take this small sample of the last 10-12 games and make it our future.”
Rod Beard: #Pistons Gores on why they didn’t win this year: “For sure, Reggie. You can see the incredible difference he’s made. At the same time, we have to be prepared … Reggie has made a difference but we have to get used to players get injured. No excuses — we have no excuses.”
Rod Beard: #Pistons Gores on cap situation/roster construction and SVG staying to finish it out: “I don’t look at it that way and I don’t think Stan does either. What we did, we did. We did that together. There’s not a big move that Stan made without me. We’re together in that.”
Bullock’s thoughts on Van Gundy are predictably positive. “(Van Gundy) is a great coach,” Bullock said. “He is definitely a motivator and wants to win. He wants the best out of this team and knows he can get the best out of this team. “We struggled this year, we missed the playoffs, it was a goal of ours, but we have time to go back into the summer and work on our games and try to come back with a better attitude. Whatever direction the organization takes is the direction that they feel is best for the team. My part is to go out there and play as hard as I can for the organization.”
“Jeff’s a helluva coach,’’ said Stan Van Gundy, who has a dual role with Detroit but, sources have indicated, is no sure thing of returning. “Obviously I have a bias, but he’s one of the best in the business.”
Stan Van Gundy heard the reports on Tuesday. And he wanted everyone to know: They “don’t mean a damn thing.” Van Gundy, the Detroit Pistons’ president and head coach, spoke with reporters on Tuesday, the same day Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the franchise was interested in bringing in former star Chauncey Billups to work with team vice chairman Arn Tellem in a “revamped front office.”
Pistons spokesman Mark Barnhill called Stein’s report “False” in a one-word text message to the Free Press on Tuesday. Barnhill later said, “Stan is in charge, and we’ll sit down with him after the last game to review this season and start preparing for the next one. We all want the same thing: To win.”
James Edwards III: Stan Van Gundy on today’s rumor [about Chauncey Billups potentially joining the Pistons front office]: “The only thing I care about is losing. … that’s the only thing that keeps me up at night. Tom will make a decision.”
Nate Duncan: What do you make of recent comments by [Pistons owner] Tom Gores’ about Stan Van Gundy [being] a team player, and that they’re evaluating things? Marc Stein: Everyone in the league is sort of looking at Detroit and saying, ‘How broad will the change be’? They’re gonna miss the playoffs, the Blake Griffin gamble, to this point, has not worked. You have to assume that at the least, Stan Van Gundy will lose his front-office power. I think I reported about a month ago that the rumblings are out there that Arn Tellem, the long-time power agent who’s been running the business side with Detroit for the last two or three years, that he would take over the basketball side of things. Those rumblings are even louder now.
From what I’ve heard and gathered, I don’t see a scenario in which Van Gundy sticks around if he’s stripped of just one of his titles. At this stage in his career, as I’ve said recently, I get a hunch that Van Gundy has no interest in having to look over his shoulder and answer to someone other than Gores. On Friday, when addressing the comments of Gores, he said he wouldn’t actively seek another job if he wasn’t brought back next season.
Tom Gores has a big decision to make. Apparently, so might Stan Van Gundy. That was the logical conclusion from the owner’s rare public comments at Little Caesars Arena Friday night. If you sift through the ambiguity, Gores is considering a change after the season, as the Pistons meander to the finish. With a polite — and purposeful — non-committal on Van Gundy’s future, Gores might have begun the process of parting ways. With the Pistons likely to miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, it’s not a surprise.
Would Gores outright fire Van Gundy? I’m not sure it’ll come to that. When the two meet, my guess is, it’ll be amicable, and might end up being mutual. Gores could remove one of Van Gundy’s dual roles — president of basketball operations — and perhaps give him the last season of his contract solely to coach. At 58, Van Gundy might prefer to walk away than accept a new arrangement. “It’s about what happened this year, what we’re gonna do, our future,” Gores said. “Stan’s a team player. We’re not winning enough, so we have to talk about that.”
Van Gundy did a good job early here, completely remaking a woeful team, with Andre Drummond the only inherited player remaining. But amid curious moves, shifting directions and key injuries, it has stalled. “I think Tom and I are totally on the same page,” Van Gundy said. “Our team’s playing hard, I like the guys we’ve had, some things have happened out of our control. But I’m not looking to make excuses. This business is about winning games, and we haven’t been doing enough of that. … I’ve been through this several times, but never this upfront and direct, and never with this kind of relationship with an owner. I have total respect for Tom. I love the way I’ve been treated here, but I also understand and respect Tom has to do what he thinks is best for the franchise.”
But might Van Gundy also have a decision to make, if Gores removes the president’s role (and full personnel control) but offers to keep him as coach? It has been reported in NBA circles that Gores could elevate Arn Tellem, his vice chairman since 2015, to head of basketball operations. “Yeah, I guess I have a decision to make too, you always do,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a two-way thing, but it’s really him first.”
Van Gundy doesn’t seem inclined to campaign to keep both jobs, or either job. He has said this is his last coaching stop, and reiterated he’s fine with whatever happens. “I’ve said before, if I’m not here next year, I’m not chasing jobs anywhere else,” Van Gundy said. “You can come look for me on my lake in the summer here, or my porch in Florida in the winter. What decision Tom’s gonna make at the end of the year, that doesn’t worry me even a little bit.”
“If I were in my second year as an NBA coach and building my career, had young kids and didn’t have financial security (I might be worried), but none of those things are true,” Van Gundy said. “But none of those things are true and I’ve been very, very fortunate. I don’t need to work another day in my life. “I have all the security I need. This is all about what’s best for the organization. I have no apprehension at all. “If I’m not here next year, I’m not chasing jobs anywhere else. You can look for me on my lake the summer here and my porch in Florida in the winter.”
Rod Beard: #Pistons Gores on SVG’s future: “We talked the other day and I’m not giving up on Stan and I’m not giving up on this team. “Stan and I discussed (next year) and we said we’re not going to talk about it until after this season.”
Rod Beard: #Pistons Gores on potential changes to be made: “We always have to adjust. We’re not winning so we have to adjust something. Clearly, we can’t be stubborn; we have to make adjustments but I don’t think we’re that far off.”
Van Gundy said Friday that he hasn’t been told anything about his future in either capacity, so he’s continuing with the season to try to get the Pistons back on the right track. Pistons owner Tom Gores supported Van Gundy in both roles in speaking to media members earlier this season, but it’s unclear whether his plans have changed. “Nothing has been said, so I won’t even comment on that,” Van Gundy told The Detroit News Friday. “I don’t have any idea. It’s Tom’s team and he’ll make whatever decisions he wants to make and we’ll go from there. “Nothing has been broached with me, so I’m not even going to comment on it.”
Rod Beard: I asked #Pistons SVG about the report that he won’t be team president next season: “It’s Tom (Gores’) team and he’ll make whatever decisions he wants to make and we’ll go from there. Nothing has been broached with me, so I’m not even going to comment on it.”
Stan Van Gundy is expected to at least lose his role as team president in Detroit, if not also his coaching duties, with Pistons exec Arn Tellem waiting in the wings to take over the basketball operations. Tellem, one of pro sports’ top agents for the better part of 25 years, has been Pistons VP and owner Tom Gores’ right-hand man since 2015. Speculation is that Van Gundy will need to make the playoffs to keep his coaching job.
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.
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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April 19, 2018 | 11:00 pm EDT Update
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April 19, 2018 | 10:39 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has withdrawn from consideration for the Phoenix Suns head coaching job, league sources tell ESPN.