Dream Scenario for Next Detroit Pistons GM and Coaching Positions

Jakub Rudnik@jakubrudnikContributor IIIMay 11, 2014

The Detroit Pistons have big decisions to make this offseason.
The Detroit Pistons have big decisions to make this offseason.Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons have openings at both general manager and head coach, and finding the right candidate for each position will go a long way toward remaking them into a contender in the Eastern Conference.

They are looking to find a GM for the first time since 2000 after Joe Dumars resigned at the end of the season.

Whoever replaces him will be following the architect of the 2004 title team and one of the greatest figures in Pistons history.

On the sidelines, the man who takes the job will be taking what has become one of the most infamous positions in the NBA in recent years. In Dumars' 15 seasons leading the front office, he employed eight head coaches, including five since the 2008-09 season.

With a team that hasn't made the playoffs in five seasons and currently is without an identity, it is imperative that the Pistons get the right two people in place.

This is a team with loads of potential and one of the best young players in the entire NBA—it can't afford to have the wrong people in charge.


General Manager 

Bryan Colangelo, a rumored favorite for the Pistons' GM job, made some questionable moves in Toronto.
Bryan Colangelo, a rumored favorite for the Pistons' GM job, made some questionable moves in Toronto.Ron Turenne/Getty Images

After failed ventures in free agency the last two times the Pistons had significant cap space—the Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva signings in 2009, and the Josh Smith signing in 2013—it is crucial for the Pistons to bring in the right guy for this summer, when they will have as much as $20 million in cap space.

There have been many names floating around this opening.

Early on, it was former Piston Isiah Thomas, but David Mayo of MLive.com reports that the team has ended those rumors. The Detroit News suggests current Piston Chauncey Billups could be in the mix.

According to Sportsnet, former Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo has emerged as "a leading candidate to run the Detroit Pistons."

But those aren't the guys who should be running the team.

An ESPN Insider evaluation ranked Thomas the best-drafting GM since 1989, but he also traded two future lottery picks for Eddy Curry and signed Jerome James and Jared Jeffries to full mid-level exception contracts.

Billups has a great basketball mind, but he needs some front-office experience before taking over. Colangelo may have done well with the Suns, but in Toronto he drafted Andrea Bargnani over LaMarcus Aldridge, Terrance Ross over Andre Drummond and traded for Rudy Gay.

There are a number of intriguing assistant general managers and advanced stats guys who would make sense in Detroit, but Scott Perry, assistant GM for the Orlando Magic, would be the best fit for this team.

According to the Detroit Free PressPerry was hired by Dumars to scout for the Pistons in 2000 and was the vice president of basketball operations when he left in 2012He has Pistons roots and has seen what it takes to work for owner Tom Gores.

And now he's second in command behind one of the best GMs in the NBA.

GM Rob Hennigan is leading a post-Dwight Howard rebuilding effort in Orlando, but to see what he's done you have to look past their 23-59 record.

When the Magic were forced to trade Howard, it was Hennigan who got a package that included Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and three first-round picks.

It was an unheralded deal at the time that now looks like a great haul, as Vucevic has averaged a double-double in the past two seasons and Afflalo scored over 18 points per game in 2013-14. 

Hennigan is also responsible for flipping J.J. Redick—in the final season of his contract—at the 2013 trade deadline to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tobias Harris, a 21-year-old forward who averaged 14.6 points and seven rebounds in his third season.

The Magic GM has proven he knows how to acquire assets and use trades to take advantage of impatient teams.

Presuming that Perry believes in Hennigan's principles—and with his Detroit ties—he'd be an excellent under-the-radar choice to run the Pistons' front office.


Head Coach

The Pistons have a number of excellent coaches that are available for hire.
The Pistons have a number of excellent coaches that are available for hire.Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

With a very strong pool of unemployed coaches, there is no reason that the Pistons can't find the right man to call plays this time around.

Among the viable candidates are former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, the recently fired Mark Jackson from the Golden State Warriors and Stan Van Gundy, who most recently coached the Magic.

The Pistons may not be able to go too wrong with any of the four candidates—all of whom boast a better resume than Maurice Cheeks, who didn't even make it through his first season coaching the Pistons.

Hollins went 143-87 (.622) in his final three seasons in Memphis and led the team to a franchise-record 56 wins in 2012-13.

In 25 seasons, Karl amassed an 1131-756 (.599) record while making the playoffs 22 times and winning the 2013 NBA Coach of the Year award.

Jackson led the Warriors to their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 1992 and their first 50-win season since 1993-94.

Van Gundy has a 371-208 (.641) record and led Orlando to the 2009 NBA Finals.

The case can be made, too, that each would fit with the roster that Pistons have in place already. Hollins coached one of the NBA's best big-man duos in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and he would inherit Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe in Detroit.

Karl's Nuggets teams famously played among the fastest paces in the league, which would fit the great athletes in Detroit.

Van Gundy coached both Shaquille O'Neal and Howard—two great big men who are physically similar to Drummond.

However, Jackson is the guy who would fill the biggest needs for the Pistons. Not only did he increase the Warriors' win total by 28 from 2011-12 to 2013-14, he also turned them into one of the NBA's best defensive units. Most importantly, he's a coach that players want to fight for.

NBA.com indicates the Pistons had the No. 25 defense in the league in the 2013-14 season, giving up 107.3 points per 100 possessions.

The Warriors, who start defensive liabilities Steph Curry and David Lee, finished No. 3 at 99.9 points per 100 possessions. That's an improvement from No. 13 in 2012-13 (102.6 points/100 possessions) and a drastic change from 2011-12, when they finished No. 27 at 106 points per 100 possessions.

With this Pistons team, X's and O's may not even matter as much as creating strong team chemistry, as they were clearly more talented than a 29-win team. There may be nobody better than Jackson in this regard.

Critics of Jackson look at his somewhat-limited offense and questionable rotations, but those are things that can change as he gains more experience. He's still only coached in the NBA for three seasons. 

"Whatever Jackson needs to work on can be improved," the Detroit News' Vincent Goodwill wrote. "He’s nowhere near a finished product, but garnering support in his locker room was something he earned instantly—something that has been in short order in Auburn Hills recently."

The Pistons wouldn't be wrong in hiring any of the other three coaches, and Jackson may not even be interested in coming to Detroit.

With that said, there isn't a better coach to come in and help grow alongside this young Pistons team.


All statistics from NBA.com unless otherwise noted. 

Jakub Rudnik covers the Detroit Pistons as a Featured Columnist for B/R. Follow him on Twitter.


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