The Detroit Pistons moved on from Stan Van Gundy after four seasons — only one of which resulted in a playoff appearance (first-round sweep). They quickly hired Dwane Casey to replace him and are hoping that the former Toronto Raptors coach can produce quick results.
Casey and the Raptors achieved both a franchise and Eastern Conference best record of 59-23. But they were swept in the second round of the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to the Detroit News’ Bob Wojnowski, the organization worked hard to land Casey, who helped transform Toronto into a strong defensive team.
Casey was the top coaching candidate on the free agent market this offseason. He has the most experience and best recent records. This earned him a five-year deal with the Pistons, who are looking for any hint of playoff success after disappointing seasons under Van Gundy. Owner Tom Gores said that they “got their guy” after the signing.
Pistons Have a Lot of Work to Do with Front Office
Van Gundy led a dual role as both coach and general manager. In the aftermath of his firing, many wondered if he was only suited for one role.
Casey won’t be the general manager. And this leaves Detroit scrambling to put together a solid front office. Here’s more from Wojnowski on the matter:
“Once again, we’ll see if the Pistons are forward thinking, or grasping from the past. To turn the team around, it’s about more than just the coach. There’s still uncertainty in the organization, and it’s unclear who will assume which roles, from president to general manager.”
Detroit has had eight coaches in the past 11 years. And Van Gundy is the only one to make the playoffs (2016) in this span. Before that, the late Flip Saunders was the last to have a winning record (2008).
Some of the failed coaches in this span include Michael Curry, Lawrence Frank, Maurice Cheeks, and John Loyer (interim).
Gores resisted the temptation to make a splashy hire with a young coach. The team is conceivably built to win now with Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and Reggie Jackson on the roster. Plus, Detroit doesn’t have much flexibility anyways when considering their contracts.
The Pistons finished 39-43 last season, missing out on the playoffs. If Casey can make small improvements, then the team can at least compete for a lower playoff seed.
Detroit Pistons Outlook for 2019
Given that the Finals just ended, we don’t yet have our futures up for the 2018-19 NBA season. But when we do, the Pistons are likely to be a middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference team.
They probably won’t make a significant splash in free agency after trading for Griffin last season. However, Detroit will be an interesting team to watch if they can stay healthy.
Jackson has been hurt each of the past two seasons. But if he can make it through the entire 2019 campaign, then the Pistons have a much better chance. They could also exceed expectations if the Griffin-Drummond front-court pairing gels throughout the year.