The Detroit Pistons have found their next coach, reportedly agreeing to a deal with former Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pistons and Casey have a five-year deal in place:
Dwane Casey has agreed to a five-year deal to become the next coach of the Detroit Pistons, league sources told ESPN.
The Pistons stayed aggressive in pursuit of Casey, and closed on a deal Monday morning to land the franchise’s primary coaching target. Owner Tom Gores and senior advisor Ed Stefanski sold Casey with an aggressive contractual commitment and a case that together, they could make the Pistons a perennial playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit is working to reshape its franchise, hiring Stefanski and Casey to replace former president and coach Stan Van Gundy as the centralized leadership of the organization. The Pistons are committed to building the roster around All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who they acquired in a February trade from the LA Clippers.
TNT analyst David Aldridge also reports, via Twitter, that Casey was swayed to take the Pistons’ job after a serious push by the team’s front office:
When Dwane Casey left Cleveland Saturday morning, he was not inclined to take the Pistons’ job. But ownership/management led by Tom Gores put a full-court press on over the weekend to get the deal done—and relented on letting the new coach pick his assistants, per sources.
The Pistons had been searching for a coach after parting ways with Van Gundy shortly after the end of this season. Van Gundy went 152-176 over four seasons as Detroit’s coach, making the playoffs only once, and Detroit was 39-43 in 2017-18. Team owner Tom Gores said in a statement released when Van Gundy was fired that Van Gundy wanted to return for the 2018-19 season.
Casey was fired by the Raptors after the playoffs, where Toronto was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. This came after Casey recorded a franchise-record 59 wins and the East’s top seed in the 2018 playoffs.
Overall in Toronto, Casey has become one of the East’s most successful coaches. In seven seasons there, he posted a 320-238 (.573) record, including the only three 50-win seasons in team history. Under him, the Raptors won four Atlantic Division titles and advanced to the postseason in a franchise-record five consecutive seasons. He was the longest-tenured coach in team history and the franchise’s all-time winningest coach.
Detroit had shown interest in Casey and others for their vacancy, with current Michigan coach John Beilein and current San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka also reportedly being in the mix for the job. Beilein pulled out of the running for the job last week, posting on Twitter: “I love the University of Michigan and I am excited about coaching our Men’s Basketball Team next season and in the years to come ! Let’s go hang some more banners at “THE GREATEST UNIVERSITY IN THE WORLD”.
A decade ago, the Pistons were one of the game’s most respected organizations after reaching the Eastern Conference finals six straight years and winning the NBA title in 2004. They sank quickly into irrelevance after that. Detroit missed the playoffs the final five seasons of Joe Dumars’ tenure as team president, and Gores — who took over as owner in 2011 — eventually brought Van Gundy in, giving him authority in the front office in addition to his coaching duties.
With center Andre Drummond leading the way, Detroit started 19-14 in 2017-18 and won on the road against the likes of Golden State, Oklahoma City and Boston. Then an ankle injury to point guard Reggie Jackson derailed the season, and not even the trade for Griffin in late January was enough to push the Pistons to the playoffs in their first season at downtown Detroit’s new Little Caesars Arena.
Although Detroit got off to a hot start with Griffin, the Pistons stumbled down the stretch and missed the playoffs for the second straight season and third time in four seasons. Detroit went 8-4 when Jackson and Griffin played together and were 27-18 overall with Jackson, who suffered a severe ankle injury in late December and did not return until late March.
Van Gundy was scrutinized by some Pistons fans for his recent work in the NBA Draft, which includes selecting Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker in 2015 and Luke Kennard instead of Donovan Mitchell in 2017. This past season, Kennard shot over 40 percent from 3-point range, but he was taken one spot ahead of Mitchell in last year’s draft. Mitchell blossomed into a Kia Rookie of the Year candidate.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.