The Detroit Pistons have officially named Dwane Casey, the former coach of the Toronto Raptors and 2017-18 season NBCA Coach of the Year, as the team's next head coach. The contract will span for five seasons, and will include an average salary of approximately seven million dollars per year, though the official total has yet to be released as of the writing of this article.
The coaching search
The Pistons coaching search was extremely through since the firing of Stan Van Gundy took place over a month ago, as the team interviewed several different names over the course of that span.
A process that saw names ranging at various different points from Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs, to Jerry Stackhouse, who was the Raptors G-League coach before heading to the Memphis Grizzlies to be an assistant, to John Beilein, the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines Men's Basketball team and was one of the finalists for the position. In the end, it ended up coming down to Ime Udoka, the Spurs lead assistant coach and Casey, who was the clear favorite throughout the whole search process. Udoka, in some ways always seemed like the backup candidate to Casey if they couldn't convince him to come to Detroit.
Eventually, after giving him the power to choose his own assistant coaches, Casey finally relented and signed the Pistons significant contract. Why it took so long for Pistons owner Tom Gores to give Casey the ability to choose his own assistants, and who would've chosen them is unknown, however it does make for an interesting piece in why negotiations between the two sides may have taken as long as they did, as the monetary side of the offer seems quite hefty.
It seems the decision from the Pistons side was relatively easy, however, Casey's decision was likely quite a bit more difficult, as he had to be willing to come back to coaching without taking a year off. If he didn't accept the Detroit job, he would've been sitting at home this season, as the Pistons job was the last opening other than his former team the Raptors. Once Gores relented in giving him the capability to choose assistants, paired with the financial commitment as well as the job security of a five-year deal worth over seven million a year, it became too much for Casey to pass up becoming the Pistons next head coach.
Why Casey to Detroit makes sense
The Pistons and Casey seem like a very interesting match in more ways than one. The Pistons wanted to hire the best coach they could on the market, and hired the coach of the year. They wanted someone who could compete this season with Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin leading the way, and have found someone who they believe could take them to a playoff spot, and hopefully win for the first time in 10 seasons. With Casey being able to choose his own assistants and having complete control of the coaching side without having control over player personnel made it a good fit from a control side. Also, the Pistons have generally in their most successful years had a defensive heavy identity going back to the "Bad Boys" and "Goin' to Work" eras of the team's storied past. Casey will be able to instill a defensive identity into the Pistons as well.
Why Casey to Detroit is a bad fit
While there will be a separate article on this coming out over the offseason with much more detail behind it, there are a few reasons why Casey and Detroit don't seem like a perfect match.
The main potential issue is that Detroit doesn't have an abundance of three-point shooters. Outside of Luke Kennard, who didn't play a lot as a rookie under Stan Van Gundy, the list dries out after that. Stanley Johnson and Andre Drummond don't have jumpers in their game, and Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin have lengthy injury histories and don't have the most reliable jumpers in their own right. If Casey forces the Pistons to be jumper heavy instead of playing to their strengths, which is mostly going to be post presence if this team stays together, the Pistons may be in for some trouble relatively early on in Casey's tenure as head coach.