Yesterday the Detroit Pistons signed former Heat and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to a 5 year, $35 million deal as President and Head Coach. Van Gundy was away from coaching for a year after his ouster from the Orlando Magic. Was this a good move for Detroit?
On a coaching level, I think it was. SVG has a habit of rubbing some of his guys the wrong way (Shaq and Dwight aren’t his biggest fans), and he ran his mouth to the media entirely too much at the end of his stay in Orlando regarding his relationship with Dwight. Despite some of his flaws, Van Gundy can coach. He led the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals in 2005 (and probably would have made it to the finals had Dwyane Wade not cracked his ribs), and never got the chance to coach the 2006 championship team after he left the team “for family reasons.” He then lead the Magic to a surprise trip to the Finals in 2009 with Dwight Howard and a bunch of shooters. Unless he forgot how to coach in the last year, I think he should be fine.
The part that worries me is the President of Operations part. I would be very hesitant to hand over control of Operations to someone with no experience in that capacity, especially with a mess of a roster. Van Gundy will have his work cut out for him. Early reports indicate that Van Gundy will likely bring in former Magic GM Otis Smith to reunite with him in his new home. I think that’s a good idea, familiarity is a good thing. This roster isn’t devoid of talent, with quality young pieces like Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. SVG should be great for Drummond’s development, as his tough style often helps maximize his talent.
The bottom line is this franchise has lost its way for a while, and change was necessary. Bringing in a smart, established vet like Stan Van Gundy should help bring legitimacy to a franchise that lost it under Joe Dumars. For those reasons, I think this was a good hire.
Who wouldn’t want to coach a guy with crazy untapped potential like this?: