If Jackson has his way, the prevailing thought around the league is that his protégé Brian Shaw will wind up with the job.
On the other hand, sources say Dumars’ top two choices are Nate McMillan and Maurice Cheeks. Dumars also was hoping to make his hire before last week’s NBA draft combine in Chicago, the sources indicated.
Will Joe Dumars get his? He preferred Mike Woodson last time, and Tom Gores overruled him to hire Lawrence Frank.
But as the Pistons concluded their interview with Oklahoma City assistant Maurice Cheeks Wednesday, their first face-to-face meeting after phone conversations while the Thunder were still in the playoffs, it appears they won’t be bringing in any more candidates, a source tells The Detroit News.
Considering we don’t know everyone Joe Dumars has interviewed, this news means only so much. But it might indicate the Pistons will hire a coach before the conference finals end – unless they really had no interest in Shaw or Lionel Hollins, anyway.
The Atlanta Hawks are looking for a new coach, even though they have Larry Drew. But they’ve reportedly been very up front with Drew about this and have tried to accommodate him. Chris Vivlamore The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Drew told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Friday that in a meeting with general manager Danny Ferry earlier this week the two came to an amicable agreement to allow the coach to interview for other vacant positions in the league.
Drew is a good coach – he went 44-38, 40-26 and 44-38 and won a playoff series with a few transitional rosters – and he’s a former Pistons player. He’s not necessarily the best candidate available, but he might be, and the Pistons should at least talk to him.
But, apparently, they can’t do that. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:
Drew’s contract expires at the end of June, but Hawks management hasn’t approached him about an extension and is talking to other teams. Drew doesn’t have the luxury of reaching out to the Pistons and they would need permission from the Hawks to interview him, a different proposition than interviewing a team’s assistant coach.
But what about Drew saying he could interview around the league? Goodwill:
Heard from Drew’s camp that it’s more complicated than it’s being made to be publicly
The Pistons also formally interviewed former Pistons and Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter and Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, among others, but haven’t yet talked to Pacers assistant Brian Shaw or Heat assistant David Fizdale, whose teams are still in the playoffs.
My skepticism of a Brian Shaw interview, which the Detroit Free Press reported, turned out to be correct. The Pacers have maintained they weren’t giving their assistants permission to interview elsewhere until after the playoffs, and I guess Shaw with the Pistons was no exception.
Goodwill previously reported the Pistons wanted to interview both Shaw and Fizdale. It’s not impossible for assistants to interview during the playoffs, but there are definitely hurdles.
The Pistons, according to the Detroit Free Press and mostly reported elsewhere previously, have interviewed:
- Nate McMillan
- Lindsey Hunter
- Mike Budenholzer
- J.B. Bickerstaff
- Brian Shaw
- Maurice Cheeks
While several of the candidates known to have been interviewed are ex-players, Dumars said the search already has exceeded that scope.
"That’s not all we’ve talked to," Dumars said. "Those are the names that you guys have gotten. But we’ve talked to a lot more than just ex-players, I’m telling you."
Of that group, only Budenholzer and Bickerstaff didn’t play in the NBA. Is Dumars referring to those two? Their interviews were widely reported, so I doubt it.
There are plenty of college coaches who didn’t play in the NBA, so I wonder whether one interviewed with the Pistons. Otherwise, I don’t have much to go on to even make guesses.
Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva has picked up his $8.5-million option for next season.
That was expected. Charlie Villanueva has drastically underperformed his contract with the Pistons, and he wasn’t getting near that amount as a free agent.
Now – if money is no object – the Pistons should amnesty Villanueva. There is no argument here.
I suppose it’s possible having an $8.5 million expiring contract represents more value to the Pistons than having an extra $8.5 million in cap space (though I doubt it), but the argument could be made the Pistons could sign free agents up to the cap line, trade an $8.5 million contract for up to $12.85 million in returning salary and exceed the salary cap by more money than could by taking the straight cap-space route.
But if the Pistons want an $8.5 million expiring contract, the could amnesty Villanueva and very easily sign a better player to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. That better replacement would fetch more in a trade.
Of course, money is an object.
Amnestying Villanueva and signing a replacement to a one-year, $8.5 million contact would cost the Pistons $17 million – an $8.5 million more than just keeping Villanueva. Is that price worth it to Tom Gores? Probably not.
The Pistons should still strongly consider amnestying Villanueva, though. They aren’t forced to sign a replacement, but the cap space would be available in the event they need it.
Remember, amnestied contracts count against the payroll floor, which will be set at 90 percent of the salary cap this season. So, using last season’s salary cap of $58,044,000 for this explanation, teams that don’t use the amnesty could enter the season with a maximum of $5,804,400 in cap room. If the Pistons amnesty Villanueva, they could hold as much as $14,304,400 in cap room. That would be a major advantage in mid-season trade negotiations.
Evidently, Mo Cheeks impressed someone during a recent phone interview with the Detroit Pistons.
The Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach and former head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers will have second interview with the Pistons today, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
First of all, apologies to the Free Press for insinuating Cheeks didn’t previously interview. Does this mean Brian Shaw has already interviewed with the Pistons, too?
As far as Cheeks, I’m not terribly enthused. He didn’t coached a winning team in his last six seasons as a head coach, seemingly bringing the mediocre out of teams good and bad. Maybe the Pistons, a bad team lately, wouldn’t mind a coach lifting them to mediocre.
But even during his first two seasons with the Trail Blazers, teams that went 49-33 and 50-32, Portland didn’t win a playoff series. Plus, I don’t see the Thunder as a particularly well-coached team. To its credit, Oklahoma City got a lot from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, individually and in tandem, but when Westbrook got injured, the Thunder had no answers.
If you squint hard enough, Cheeks looks like an alright coaching candidate. It’s difficult to view him as anything more than that.
Chad Ford of ESPN updated his mock draft after last night’s lottery, and he has the Pistons taking Anthony Bennett at No. 8:
The Pistons’ biggest need is at the three, and if Bennett falls this far, I could see Detroit convincing themselves that Bennett could make the transition. While Bennett looks like a power forward, he can really shoot and handle the basketball. He has enough talent to be the No. 1 pick, but his recent rotator cuff surgery has caused his stock to slide just a tad. He’d be a great fit in Detroit and give the Pistons, along with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, one of the best young front lines in basketball.
I didn’t like Bennett relative to the other five typically touted players – a group also comprised of Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo.
But at No. 8? Heck yeah.
I definitely believe Bennett’s is better suited to play power forward long term, but there’s no harm in the Pistons spending a little time trying to make him a small forward, a position that presents a bigger need in Detroit. Even if that experiment is a likely failure, Bennett as a power forward would be great value at No. 8.
NEW YORK – As I stepped into a crowded Good Morning America Times Square Studio after the NBA lottery, other media, observers and official team representatives had already flooded the floor. It was difficult to even walk without following a single-file stream leading toward the center of the crowd.
In the scrum, the first face I clearly saw belonged to Andre Drummond. The 6-foot-10 center towered above everyone near him, using his wide frame to clear space in his immediate vicinity.
He was smiling.
The Pistons’ streak of never benefitting from moving up in the lottery – the only time they’ve moved up, they drafted Darko Milicic – remains in tact. Entering Tuesday’s lottery with the No. 7 seed, the Pistons fell to the No. 8 pick to create a grim situation.
The Cavaliers, a Central Division foe, landed the No. 1 pick and will also see Anderson Varejao return from injury. Another Central Division team, the Pacers, will begin play in the Eastern Conference Finals tomorrow. A third Central Division team, the Bulls, won a playoff series and will get Derrick Rose back next season. The Pistons might be in better shape than the Bucks, but at least Milwaukee made the playoffs this season, and I’m not going to bother with the pointless exercise of comparing the Pistons and Bucks.
Moreover, the eighth pick is not a great place to sit in this draft. Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo and Anthony Bennett will almost certainly be off the board. It would have been worth hoping one fell to No. 7, but to No. 8? It was already a stretch at No. 7. The Pistons won’t even necessarily get their top choice of a lower tier that includes Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Len, Cody Zeller and C.J. McCollum.
But as I saw Drummond standing there smiling, I exhaled and smiled, too.
Maybe this won’t be so bad. After all, the Pistons have Drummond, one of the league’s most promising players thanks, in part, to the size that allowed me to see him first. And they got him one pick later than they’re choosing this year. Sometimes, the improbable happens, and lately, the Pistons’ improbable luck has come on draft night rather than lottery night.
The risks are still plentiful, as the No. 8 pick might do just enough to ensure the Bobcats get the best pick possible in a stacked 2014 draft, thanks to a first rounder Detroit still owes them from the Ben Gordon trade (top-eight protected next year). Is a Drummond-Greg Monroe-Brandon Knight core plus whoever the Pistons draft and sign this year good enough to run with?
Before I knew it, a crew dismantled the stage that not long ago Drummond and ever other team’s lottery representatives sat on. I didn’t stick around to watch the end, but the crew was taking down the logos top to bottom, left to right, leaving the Pistons’ logo due to come off last.
The Pistons are still standing thanks to Drummond, and they might even still be smiling thanks to an irrational hope that draft luck repeats itself. But as much as I want to remain optimistic, I can’t help but think it won’t be long until someone comes by and takes down what the Pistons are building.