The Washington Wizards made the playoffs this season and ultimately did so fairly easily. That was due in part to a few teams in the East, like the Pistons, unexpectedly fading into the background. Rather than stick with the same off-court decision makers, Detroit cleaned house and apparently consolidated power into one mustachioed man with an NBA Finals appearance on his résumé.
In a basketball marriage that seemed to evolve quicker than a John Wall-led fast break, the Pistons and former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy have reportedly come to terms on a five-year contract. Van Gundy, who coached Orlando to the 2009 NBA Finals, will not only return to the sideline, but he’ll also take over as president of basketball operations. He’ll be paid reportedly $35 million for the gig.
The Pistons fired coach Maurice Cheeks midway through the trying season and longtime general manager Joe Dumars at the end of it. Van Gundy is expected to hire a GM with former Otis Smith, who held the same position with Orlando (and traded with the Wizards for Gilbert Arenas)
Here are three things to look for with Stan Van back in the mix:
1) Don’t expect the Pistons core to look the same next season. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings seemed like ill-fitting pieces when signed as free agents last off-season to join big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. The result, a worse than expected 29-53 record. The physically imposing Drummond won’t be going anywhere. Same probably goes for Smith, but only because he’s due to make $42 million over the next three seasons. Monroe is a restricted free agent. Wizards/Georgetown fans are well aware.
2) Basketball commentary will take a hit. Jeff Van Gundy rocks and had the profile gigs because of his NBA work, but Stan’s brand of straight talk made many a college game on the various NBC networks a more pleasurable experience.
3) Finally, John Wall. What about John Wall? Well, for a refresher, read this and then this. Basically, at one point last season Van Gundy became the poster child of Wall’s critics, but then pulled back some after the point guard’s return from a knee injury sparked the Wizards over the second half of the 2012-13 season. Therefore we’ll need an update on Van Gundy’s thoughts. Keep riding the straight talk express, Stan.