The Detroit Pistons pulled off one of the most shocking trades of the NBA season when they shipped off Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a 2018 protected first-round pick and a 2019 protected second-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Blake Griffin.
It’s safe to say that the deal didn’t work out as planned.
Harris excelled for the Clippers and arguably outplayed Griffin and the Pistons missed the playoffs for the second-straight season.
The mastermind behind the trade was coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy, who had complete control over all roster decisions. Although the Pistons failed to make the postseason, their frontcourt should be locked up heading into the future, as Griffin and All-Star Andre Drummond should be a force to be reckoned with in the East.
On Monday, Griffin spoke out in support of his coach, who had been rumored to be on the hot seat. “He’s actually a very cool guy. Very nice guy. Funny. And actually genuinely cares about people. That’s kind of rare,” Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast.
However, just hours later, the Pistons announced that they’ve moved on from Van Gundy after meeting with him on Monday afternoon.
"We have decided that this change is necessary to take our basketball organization to the next level," Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. "This was a very difficult decision and we did not come to it lightly. I am grateful to Stan for everything he's done for the Pistons and for the City of Detroit. He rebuilt the culture of our basketball team, re-instilled a winning attitude and work ethic, and took us to the playoffs two years ago. He went all-in from day one to positively impact this franchise and this community.”
According to Wojnarowski, the Pistons asked Van Gundy to give up some of his power on the player personnel aspect of his job, but he resisted. He had one year and $7 million left on his original five-year deal.
"Stan is a competitor and he wanted to finish the job," Gores said. "He retooled a roster that we think can be very competitive in the East. I know he's disappointed, and that he cares deeply about his players, his staff, this organization and this city. He's also a professional who will make sure this is a seamless transition, and someone I hope will be a friend and adviser to me long after this transition is completed.”
It’s safe to say that the dismissal was a surprise to Griffin. Whoever steps into the role next will have one of the league’s top frontcourts to utilize. Although Detroit needs to improve in many other areas, that’s a solid starting point.
As a head coach for the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Pistons, Van Gundy has made the playoffs in eight out of his 12 seasons while compiling a 523-384 (.577) overall regular-season record.
Therefore, he might not be out of a job for long.
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