Detroit — The Dwane Casey coaching era is officially over.
Casey announced after Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls that he was stepping down as Pistons coach and will move into a front-office role after five seasons at the helm of the franchise.
“It’s been a good 44 years,” Casey said. “Tom (Gores) has given me the opportunity to move into the front office and I’m excited about it, to go to the next phase of my life.
“This is totally my decision. Tom gave me the right to do that and I appreciate it to make the decision how I wanted to. Not a lot of coaches have that opportunity, but I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life.
The Pistons finished with the worst record in the league this season (17-65) and the second-worst in franchise history. The team lost 24 of their final 26 games, which included two skids of at least 11 games. Despite the addition of lottery picks Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, along with veteran scorers Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, Detroit remained among the bottom of the league’s standings.
Casey still had one season remaining on his contract, which was a five-year deal worth $7 million annually.
Casey’s transition to the Pistons’ front office is the fourth NBA coaching change this season, the most recent being Quin Snyder replacing Nate McMillan as coach of the Atlanta Hawks in late February. Other teams with new coaches since the season started are the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.
The Pistons’ season took a turn for the worse after 12 games when Cade Cunningham played the final game of his brief sophomore campaign due to a stress fracture in his left leg that required season-ending surgery. Detroit dealt with several injuries across its roster that impacted continuity and rotation consistency.
Casey was fired by the Toronto Raptors in 2018 after seven seasons as head coach after leading the team to six playoff appearances. He left the Raptors as both the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, with a 320-238 regular-season record, and holds the title as their longest-tenured coach.
Casey was in his fifth season as coach for the Pistons, and finished with a regular-season record of 121-262.
The Pistons’ lone playoff appearance under Casey occurred during the 2018-19 season, which resulted in a 4-0 first-round sweep to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Casey, 65, was the league’s oldest head coach behind Gregg Popovich (74) in San Antonio. The Pistons entered the season as the ninth-oldest team in the NBA with an average player age of 25.08.
Casey met with Gores after the Pistons’ home finale loss to the Nets on Wednesday night. He revealed that he would meet again with Gores once the season ended. Casey sounded like a man who was at peace with his future, regardless of the outcome, when asked what it would mean for him to return next season to continue developing Detroit’s young nucleus.
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“It would be good, but I want to do what’s best for the organization,” Casey said on April 5. “I love coaching. I love teaching. I’m not going to sit here and predict the future. … I’m a big boy. I’m not going to fade away or fade into the sunset or anything like that. There’s a lot of basketball still in me. I’m not sitting here looking for pity or anything like that, but whatever Tom and Troy decides to do, it’ll be that way.”
The Pistons were already expected to have an active offseason with another top-five lottery pick in the draft and an abundance of cap space to spend in free agency. Now, the franchise will need to fill its coaching vacancy.