The Detroit Pistons cleared out their front office in the offseason, parting ways with coach and team president Stan Van Gundy and, per recent reports, GM Jeff Bower as well. A new era is afoot for the team as it aims to fill those jobs and three current and former coaches are set to talk again with the team about the vacancy.
Former Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey, current San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka and current University of Michigan coach John Beilein are set to meet with team ownership soon, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com:
The Detroit Pistons are planning further discussions with three candidates for the franchise's head-coaching job -- former Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey, University of Michigan coach John Beilein and San Antonio Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, league sources told ESPN.
The Pistons are planning to advance the three candidates to meet with owner Tom Gores, sources said.
All three coaches met with Detroit's front office recently.
Casey and Beilein are coaches with tremendous pedigrees and professional options, and neither has fully committed himself in pursuit of the Pistons opening, league sources said.
Wojnarowski also reports that Casey, who was fired after guiding Toronto to a 59-win season in 2017-18, is owed $6.5 million for the final year of his deal with Toronto. He posted a 320-238 (.573) in seven seasons with the Raptors, 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.
Udoka interviewed for coaching openings with the Raptors, Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic and has served as a Spurs assistant since 2012. He is considered by many to be one of the top up-and-coming coaching candidates in the NBA.
Beilein is the winningest coach in school history and has three years left on his deal with Michigan. Since being named coach of the Wolverines before the 2007-08 season, Michigan has won 20 or more games eight times, collected two Big Ten titles and reached two NCAA Tournament title games (but lost in both appearances).
Rod Beard of The Detroit News reports that while Beilein is enjoying his stay at Michigan, the coach may be seeking new challenges:
Beilein is renowned for his play-calling and design and making disparate pieces fit in his offensive schemes, which accentuate guard play and using big men - such as the Pistons' Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin - on the perimeter more.
One theory about Beilein's overtures to the Pistons is that he's looking for negotiating leverage for a contract extension with Michigan. His current deal is for $3.4 million per year until 2021 and after his recent success, Beilein could seek a much more lucrative contract.
Money might not be the only issue. Beilein could be considering the Pistons and the NBA for the challenge of trying to succeed at the highest level. There's even a notion that Beilein might be nearing the end of his coaching career and might be looking to satisfy the curiosity of what the NBA could be for him.
Besides Beilein and Casey, the Pistons have been linked to other coaches, such as Heat assistant Juwan Howard, former Bucks coach Jason Kidd, TNT analyst Kenny Smith and many others.
They seem to be narrowing their list, with Beilein and Casey as the frontrunners, which makes the Michigan faithful more nervous. The Pistons have taken their time with the process of finding a coach, but they seem to be on the right track for finding the right fit for them.
Bower, the GM under former president and coach Stan Van Gundy, spent four years in the Pistons front office. He helped orchestrate trades for Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin, while drafting Stanley Johnson (2015) and Luke Kennard (2017).
The move was anticipated once the Pistons dismissed head coach/president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy last month. Bower was hired by Van Gundy in 2014.
The Pistons hired Ed Stefanski in late May as senior adviser to owner Tom Gores. Stefanski is leading the search a new GM and head coach.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Memphis Grizzlies executive and former Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, Turner Sports analyst Brent Barry, Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Trajan Langdon and Atlanta Hawks front office executive Malik Rose are among some of the candidates for the front office job.