Can Stan Van Gundy lead Detroit out of Eastern Conference basement?
According to multiple media reports, the Detroit Pistons have reportedly reached an agreement in principle with Stan Van Gundy to become head coach and president of basketball operations.
The deal is reportedly worth $35 million over five years. An official announcement is expected sometime this week.
Van Gundy has a sparkling 371-208 (.641) career record in the regular season in previous stops with Miami and Orlando. The veteran coach also boasts a 48-39 record in the postseason, with a 2009 trip to the NBA Finals with the Magic on his resume.
Van Gundy will be inheriting a Pistons squad which finished a woeful 29-53 this past season, fired a head coach after just 50 of those games and the previous president of basketball operations (Joe Dumars) stepped down due in part to the lack of progress on the floor.
The Pistons are a rebuilding project in every sense of the word and rookie basketball czar Van Gundy’s hands will be full from the jump.
There are multiple areas Van Gundy must address in short order: filling out his front office, addressing the team’s perimeter needs, making a solid lottery pick, handling Greg Monroe’s restricted free agency and securing confidence from team veterans such as forward Josh Smith.
Let’s take a brief look at the most pressing areas of concern for Van Gundy in year one.
Front Office: According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Van Gundy may look to bring in former Magic general manager Otis Smith in some capacity. Smith was one of Van Gundy’s biggest supporters in Orlando and the report states the new czar has never lost vision of that loyalty over the years.
Smith deserves credit for building a legit title contender in Orlando, but the end of his tenure undoubtedly fell flat of expectations and was marred by multiple head scratching transactions.
Securing Josh Smith’s Buy-in: Van Gundy’s final days in Orlando were synonymous with a perceived feud with All-Star center Dwight Howard. For those wondering, Howard and Pistons forward Josh Smith are close friends and have likely had multiple conversations about Van Gundy in the past. The Pistons signed Smith to a four-year $54 million deal last summer, which proved to be disastrous in year one.
Handling Greg Monroe’s Pending Free Agency: Monroe is headed to free agency this summer. The good news for the Pistons is Monroe will likely be restricted and the club will be able to match any offer received for his services. With so much money already invested in Smith, who plays the same position, will the Pistons open the piggybank to sign Monroe long term? Monroe could become an attractive trade chip, but it could be a huge gamble to give up on a young productive big man who has yet to reach his prime years.
Lack of three-point shooting: The Pistons were abysmal from beyond the arc this season, connecting on just 32.1% of their attempts while averaging over 19 tries from three-point land per night. The Pistons are loaded with talented bigs. Monroe, Smith and the emerging Andre Drummond possess plenty of talent, but the lack of perimeter shooting allowed teams to aggressively sag in the paint and limit effectiveness.
2014 Draft Position: Detroit will have the No. 8 and No. 38 overall picks of the upcoming draft. The incoming rookie class is talent heavy at the top and Van Gundy could strike gold immediately with a solid lottery selection to begin his tenure with the organization.
The Pistons currently have just $33 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season. The team is positioned well to be active players in free agency and on the trading block.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers rips officiating crew following game five loss
The Los Angeles Clippers versus Oklahoma City Thunder series is arguably the best second round scrap going in this year’s playoffs. The matchup features elite talent on both sides of the ball and has provided plenty of drama.
Probably none more than in the waning seconds of Game 5 on Tuesday night when the referees awarded the ball to the Thunder with under 12 seconds left in regulation after an extensive instant replay review. The appeared to bounce off of Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson after he was apparently fouled by Clippers forward Matt Barnes. The Clippers were up 104-102 at the time and following the call guard Chris Paul fouled Thunder guard Russell Westbrook on a three-point attempt. Westbrook would subsequently make all three free throws.
To be clear, the Clippers should haven’t been in this position in the first place. Los Angeles was up 13 points with just over four minutes left in regulation and seemingly in complete control.
But with such a pivotal call in the final minute, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers says his team was robbed.
“It was our ball,” Rivers said in his postgame news conference. “Everybody knows it was our ball. I think the bottom line is [the referees] thought it was a foul and they made up for it. Then, in my opinion, let’s take away replay. Let’s take away the replay system because that’s our ball, we win the game and we got robbed because of that call. It’s clear.
“Everyone in the arena saw it. That’s why everybody was shocked when they said Oklahoma City. That was our ball. Whether it was a foul or not and it was, but they didn’t call it.”
According to an ESPN report, referee Tony Brothers said the video was inconclusive in nature.
“When the ball goes out of bounds, the ball was awarded to Oklahoma City,” Brothers said. “We go review the play. We saw two replays. The two replays we saw were from the overhead camera showing down and the one from under the basket showing the same angle but from a different view. And from those two replays, it was inconclusive as to who the ball went out of bounds off of. When it’s inconclusive, we have to go with the call that was on the floor.”
While Rivers was extremely critical of the officiating he made it clear he didn’t believe there was intention malice.
“Everybody in the arena and everybody on TV saw it. It was so clear,” Rivers said. “I usually wait but it was so clear that I went and grabbed the clipboard and I’m drawing up a side out-of-bounds [play] to get the ball in. When I saw them point that way and I thought they were pointing at us like it’s our ball, I didn’t realize they were actually pointing that way, but what can you do?
“The one thing I know about our officials, they don’t do anything on purpose. They don’t cheat or anything like that. They made a horrendous call, but at the end of the day, we created the situation. We put them in the situation with the turnovers, bad fouls and non-fouls. We did a lot ourselves to not win the game.”
Oklahoma City now holds a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 will be in Los Angeles on Thursday evening.
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.