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Detroit Pistons Coaching Dreams: Jeff Van Gundy


Age: 49

Current Job: NBA Analyst, ESPN

Previous experience:

  • Head coach, Houston Rockets (2003-07)
  • Head Coach, New York Knicks (1995-2001
  • Assistant Coach, New York Knicks (1989-1995)


Defense. Van Gundy’s teams were consistently good defensive units, even if things weren’t always so pretty offensively. He believes in defense, he was on the Pat Riley staff that reinvented tough defense in the 1990s and his philosophy would quickly make him popular among Pistons fans if he had any success whatsoever in reinstalling that ethic as a Pistons head coach. Also, he’s one heck of a scrapper. Van Gundy has had a losing record just once in his 11 seasons as a coach.

Van Gundy has also worked with two franchise big men in Patrick Ewing and Yao Ming, so hopefully he’d be a big help to Greg Monroe‘s development.


Aside from the fact that he occasionally says outrageous things, Van Gundy would be expensive. He seems comfortable doing analyst work, so it would probably take an offer that is both intriguing on the court and financially rewarding to get him to leave his gig at ESPN. It’s unclear how well he’d work with the Pistons roster given his defensive approach and the Pistons lack of … well … players who play defense.

Also, there have been rumors that he’s not the easiest coach to work with. That’s not surprising to those who regularly listen to him as a broadcaster. He tends to suffer from a bit of know-it-all-ism on occasion,


Van Gundy is a proven, good NBA coach. As a broadcaster, despite some annoyances (like in the second quarter of Sunday night’s Mavs-Heat game, when he couldn’t understand why Udonis Haslem got a technical despite Haslem clearly walking towards the Mavericks to taunt them when his bench was in the other direction), he’s also had moments where he brings up excellent points. In a Lakers game a couple years ago, he said (paraphrasing), "make sure you know where Kobe Bryant is on free throws, he’s one of the best free throw rebounders in the league." Then, after the next FT missed, sure enough, Bryant slipped between two players and grabbed an offensive rebound.

Van Gundy knows the game, but I can’t imagine the Pistons hiring someone with his strong personality and sense of how to do things or his price tag at this point.



  • Jun 14, 20112:10 pm
    by Jason


    This would be an awesome hire in my opinion, but of course it would be highly unlikely. I agree, he seems pretty happy where he’s at, and hasn’t given much mention of wanting to coach again. Though the Pistons may not have a whole lot of Defensive players, a good Defensive minded coach can at least help these guys develop.. And if you get your players to buy into the philosophy, you can’t get much worse then we have been over the last couple years on that end of the court.
    I’d love to see Dumars at least reach out to the guy, feel out his interest if nothing else. Has there been any inclination that the Pistons plan to do so, or is this just a “Dream” if you will?

  • Jun 14, 20115:20 pm
    by Brian P


    This is not so much a dream as it is a nightmare. I do not see JVG as either a teacher or a motivator, skills the next coach of the Pistons will absolutely need just to make them watchable again. The only reason not to hire Laimbeer now is to let someone else build them to respectability over the next three years, then bring him in to put them over the top. There is no denying that he did a great job with the Detroit Shock, and I believe that his success there will more than translate to the NBA. The caveat with the Shock, however, is that he had teams of very talented players that he guided/cajoled/willed to success. The current Pistons roster is nowhere near as talented.

  • Jun 14, 20115:55 pm
    by neutes


    Are Van Gundy’s teams good at defense or does his offense play so slow that the other team just never gets the ball? I can’t do it anymore. There is slow paced ball and then there is Van Gundy ball. It’s borderline unwatchable.

  • Jun 14, 20119:17 pm
    by rob


    Is JVG really only 49? I had no idea he was that young. I thought he was in his mid 50′s at least. Thats amazing to me with all the experience he has. I dont see why he is not a candidate.

    I get not looking at Adelman/Sloan because the Pistons said they wanted someone younger, who could stay long-term. But, that logic makes no sense in JVG’s case. Most of the candidates they are looking at are in their mid 50′s, with a fraction of the experience Van Gundy has, who isnt even 50 yet.

    Now I’m thinking its not the age factor, as much as its the money/power factor. Gores is skimping on our coach, imo. Thats why he wants a young coach because they dont have the experience and cant command the money/power of an older experienced coach.

    It makes no sense why Van Gundy isnt even a candidate, unless its a money issue. Which was acceptable when Karen was baby-sitting the franchise, but now that Gores is here, money isnt supposed to be an issue anymore.

  • Jun 15, 201112:50 pm
    by Sebastian


    Seriously, why has no one considered Joe for the Head coaching job. Joe would make an excellent Head Coach. He knows the game, the players, and as both Coach, GM, former Pistons great, and Basketball Hall of Famer he would get instant respect from the players.

    He could then complete his staff with Ric Mahorn, Rasheed, Big Ben, and Lindsey Hunter.
    Heck, Joe has assembled the coaching staff under both, Curry and Kuester’s terms as Head Coach.
    I am serious: Joe Dumars should be our next Head Coach, much in the same way as Gregg Popovich serves multiple positions with the Spurs. Besides, it would be a cost-saving move for Gores.

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