By TED SILLANPAA
The Detroit Pistons have apparently made Stan Van Gundy their head coach and granted him complete control of basketball operations.
Multiple media sources cited unnamed sources late Tuesday reporting that Van Gundy and the Pistons had made a deal. Neither Van Gundy or the Pistons offered comment.
Van Gundy remains a candidate for the Golden State Warriors coaching job. Multiple reports indicate that the Warriors interviewed Van Gundy in Florida on Monday and were in Oklahoma City Tuesday to speak with TNT analyst Steve Kerr. Kerr is still in negotiations with the New York Knicks to become their coach under team president Phil Jackson.
The Pistons offered Van Gundy a five-year, $35 million deal to become coach and head of basketball operations, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. There is consensus in the media Tuesday night that Van Gundy would accept the complete autonomy the Pistons offer over the reported $25-$30 million the Warriors reportedly offered Van Gundy to replace Mark Jackson as head coach.
Van Gundy has made no comment about the Pistons interview or negotiations.
The Warriors will interview former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins later this week, but reports have them focusing on landing Kerr even as he prepares to sign with the Knicks.
Wojnarowski, one of the top NBA reporters around, reported that the Warriors contingent left the meeting with Van Gundy “convinced he was leaning strongly toward the offer of total control in Detroit.” Golden State won’t give Van Gundy autonomy, but would make him one of the highest paid coaches in the game. Detroit owner Tom Gores is going all out to land the 54-year-old former coach of the Heat and Magic.
Van Gundy admitted to the San Jose Mercury News’ Diamond Leung that the Warriors have a large pool of coach candidates after Jackson was fired after leading the club to the playoffs twice. Van Gundy said he felt there was “not a lot of syngery” between Jackson and the Warriors front office.
“(The Warriors are) going to have a lot of very good people interested, but it’s a matter of fit I think from both sides,” Van Gundy said in the Mercury News. “And I think that’s what’s key in coaching jobs. It’s not going to work if there’s not some common ground on philosophy, on the culture you want around the team, on the way things are going to be done, and clearly that was the problem in Golden State. They were not on the same page with Mark. They’re going to have to find that fit.”
Van Gundy has acknowledged that he’s not certain he even wants to return to coaching in the NBA and that he loves living with his family in Florida. He has never been a coach and head of basketball operations, so there are already reports that if he were to take the Pistons’ job he’d want to bring former Magic general manager Otis Smith along to assist him.
It pays to do more than believe what every anonymous source says, even if the report comes from a top NBA reporter.
Van Gundy doesn’t want to uproot his family until all of his kids are out of high school, so assumptions that he’d jump at a move to Detroit seem premature. He has passed other NBA coaching opportunities to keep his family in Florida in the last two years. He could get complete control, but the Pistons would also have to pay Smith. Toss in that Van Gundy’s a Bay Area native who loves the region and it’s worth considering that lifestyle and taking a job that pays well without pushing the coach into a front office job he’s never done before might still make the Warriors post more attractive to him.
Or, Van Gundy might stay in Florida with his family.
Van Gundy hasn’t had a losing season in eight NBA seasons as a head coach. The Piston have suffered six straight losing season. The Warriors never had a losing record (he coached 21 games in 2005-06). The Warriors have earn two straight playoff berths. Detroit and Golden State both have rosters that include a nucleus of outstanding young talent. Still, the Pistons finished this season 29-53, while the Warriors were 51-31.
Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Marc Stein both report that Van Gundy should make a decision on the Pistons offer before Friday.
Since the Knicks have only spoken to Kerr about their coaching job, it seems unlikely that he would turn his back on his friend and mentor Jackson to take the Warriors job. Still, it is a business and Kerr has reportedly been close to signing with New York for over a week — without actually signing a contract.
ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne wrote that the Knicks would be “shocked” if Kerr landed anywhere but in New York.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported late Tuesday that the Warriors felt Van Gundy would go to the Pistons and that they needed to make a serious, late run at Kerr. Co-owner Joe Lacob, his son and vice-president Kirk Lacob and general manager Bob Myers are reportedly meeting with Kerr, who hasn’t coached before.
The focus on Van Gundy and Kerr comes from the media, but the Warriors interviewed 10 candidates before hiring Jackson. Hollins remains a viable candidate after building a winner in Memphis, but running into a Jackson-Lacob like clash with the Grizzlies front office.
Former Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan has expressed interest. University of Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, a former NBA player, and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, another longtime NBA reserve, are mentioned in connection with every coaching search this spring.
Others who might be considered are Memphis Grizzlies’ assistant David Joerger and Oklahoma City assistant Robert Pack. Joerger is often compared to Chicago Bulls head man Tom Thibodeau, a defense-first coach. Pack, 45, played in the NBA and was nearly hired to lead the Clippers when he was an assistant coach under Vinnie Del Negro in 2012. Pack has drawn high praise from Clippers point guard Chris Paul.
(Follow Ted Sillanpaa on Twitter @tedsillanpa. E-mail him at ted.sillanpaa@pressdemocrat or telephone 707-526-8623)