DETROIT – On Monday,
The most interesting — or worrisome, if you are a Pistons fan — word in that sentence is “Monday.” Detroit’s season officially ended April 11 and the Pistons were eliminated from playoff contention a week before that.
Van Gundy had been in charge for four years, and if Gores wanted to keep him he could make such an argument and do just that. It would be a poor argument, but still.
If he wanted to fire him, though, what the heck was there to debate that would require five weeks of contemplation and discussion? Why wait around while other teams moved aggressively and snapped up the best coaches and general managers on the market?
Instead, like just about everything else Gores has done since buying the franchise in 2011, this looked like an afterthought, something that finally reached the top of the to-do list of the billionaire venture capitalist who hails from Flint, Michigan, but lives in Los Angeles and is rarely seen in these parts.
Oh, right, the Pistons …
“We have decided that this change is necessary to take our basketball organization to the next level,” Gores said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision and we did not come to it lightly.”
Van Gundy is a good coach, but it didn’t work out. This really wasn’t that difficult of a decision. He went 152-176 (.463) across four years. The roster is a mess, actual attendance was weak and the future is mortgaged. Even if it was somehow a difficult decision, it didn’t need to take this long. The subject of whether SVG would return hung over the entire season. At least among the fans who attend and watch the actual games.
This says as much about how the Pistons got in this predicament in the first place. This is a franchise that not only won three NBA titles under the local ownership of Bill Davidson, who sat courtside for nearly every home game, but advanced to at least the Eastern Conference finals every season from 2002-08. The Pistons have made just one playoff appearance under Gores, getting swept in 2016.
Success is cyclical in the NBA, especially outside of the most storied franchises or places that appeal naturally to free agents. No one is suggesting Detroit needs to contend for a title every year. But it has been decades since it has been this irrelevant.
A team once known for its loyal and rabid fan base (in the case of
That’s Gores, though. He’s never around. He’s never accountable. He almost never seems to be paying attention.
Van Gundy left the franchise in a lurch, in part because of a string of terrible personnel decisions that grew more desperate as time went on – almost like he was trying to hoodwink ownership into the illusion of progress.
There were the draft busts, of course – Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker in 2015 and Henry Ellenson over just about anyone in 2016. Neither player is worth much. That led to 2017, when Duke shooting guard Luke Kennard was taken over Donovan Mitchell (whom the Pistons really liked) on the basis that Kennard would offer the outside-shooting help Detroit needed. That’s a move you make when your team is on the verge of something big, a skill-specific plug-and-play, not one for a team that’s constantly rebuilding.
When the Pistons struggled this year, Van Gundy sent away Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris and the team’s 2018 first-round pick (top-four protected) for <a href=”https://sports.yahoo.com/sources-cli