Stan Van Gundy will officially be announced as the new coach and president of the Detroit Pistons this afternoon.
He’ll be tasked with turning around a franchise that has essentially become the laughingstock of the league over the last half-decade.
New coaches were hired every six months, multi-year deals were handed out to the league’s most selfish players, and attendance at the Palace was often measured in dozens instead of thousands.
There is no hidden solution to this mess. The cleanup will take time, and it will require patience.
But if there is one token of wisdom I would hand off to Van Gundy as he embarks on this journey, it is this.
It’s simple, it’s clean, it is understood. This team sunk to such lows last season, and played so miserably in one of the Eastern Conference’s worst years, that not a single Pistons player should be viewed as sacred.
I know Josh Smith has three long years left on his deal and that other teams in the league view that contract as if it were a canister filled with nuclear material.
I don’t care. Figure out a way to ship him elsewhere.
The Pistons have called Detroit home since 1957 and I challenge you to name a player that was less enjoyable to watch than Smith during the 2013-14 campaign.
Ditto for Brandon Jennings. Send him packing. He has lacked maturity since entering the league as a teenager and things haven’t changed all that much since.
Amazingly, despite both Smith and Jennings being dreadful outside shooters, they combined to chuck 722 3-pointers this past year. They converted 224 of them. That’s 31%. These are harmful numbers for a basketball team trying to, you know, actually win basketball games.
For a team that struggled so badly and so often for the last six years, it’s amazing how little Joe Dumars actually shook things up.
Sure, he liked to change coaches early and often, but his rosters year in and year out were shockingly similar.
Charlie Villanueva spent what seemed like an eternity suited up as a Piston.
Rodney Stuckey eventually became one of those Toby Bailey-type four-year college players that graduates in normal time, but leaves you feeling like they were there for much, much, longer.
Dumars kept Jason Maxiell around for EIGHT years, which doesn’t even seem real when you read the words in front of you. Aren’t those types of runs with one franchise reserved for All-Stars and Hall of Famers? Joe D was literally sleeping on the job since around 2007.
So again, Mr. Van Gundy. I urge you. Gut this thing. Start cleaning house and don’t stop until the floor is spotless, free from remnants of its spoiled past.
Don’t shell out the big bucks this summer for a steady but unspectacular forward like Greg Monroe.
And don’t think that you can’t trade Kentavious Caldwell-Pope after one season. You can, and you will. Being young doesn’t automatically make KCP promising. Sometimes a player just isn’t very good. That is likely the case here. Let’s come to this realization after year one instead of year six (i.e. Stuckey, 2007-14).
I’d even look into trading PA man John Mason. His act has been played for some time now. Turning “Stackhouse” into a 4-syllable word might have been cute in 2002. Now when he launches into his “Deeeetroit Basketballll” routine, it just makes me want to pick a new NBA team altogether.
Clearance Sale: Everything Must Go
And when I say it’s time to axe everybody, I mean everybody.
Andre Drummond is the most valuable of the bunch and is viewed as the franchise building block going forward. But when the team you are now hired to run is in the midst of a five-year period where it has failed to win more than 30 games, there is no such thing as an “untouchable.”
That is the main message here.
It’s not some mandate to suddenly become a playoff team overnight. Or to make a miraculous run to the NBA Finals by year three.
It’s just to actually become new and different.
It wasn’t just that the Pistons played poorly these last number of years. It’s also that they became stale. So very stale.
This franchise needs a mega-shot of adrenaline, and Van Gundy’s goofy wardrobe on the sideline is not going to cut it. There needs to be a host of fresh faces and new names on the Palace floor next season.
Stan Van Gundy is taking over one of the worst clubs in the NBA. Hist first job will be to acknowledge that fact and act upon it going forward.
The overhaul needs to be massive and unrelenting. And it needs to start today.