Pistons pursuing former Suns coach Monty Williams with ‘significant’ offer

Detroit News

It appears that the Pistons, who’ve gone nearly two months without a head coach, are hoping that patience pays off.

The Pistons are in pursuit of former Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams for their coaching vacancy, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News on Wednesday.

The team is expected to make a “significant” offer, but the main hurdle lies in Williams’ desire to coach next season or not, the source said.

The Athletic was first to report the news of Detroit’s continued interest in Williams.

Detroit made an initial offer, but Williams has maintained his desire to several teams that he wanted to take a season off from coaching, according to a report by Marc Stein.

Williams led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 2021, but was fired by the organization on May 13, shortly after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference semifinal round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Suns owner and United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia reportedly led the charge in Williams’ dismissal.

Williams had three years and $21 million remaining on his contract, which could be why Detroit is prepared to make a significant offer. The Athletic reports that Detroit is willing to give Williams a salary that could be worth $10 million per year, which would instantly make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NBA.

Two finalists for the Pistons’ coaching job, former Overtime Elite coach Kevin Ollie and Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee, also are being considered. Both candidates received second interviews with the Pistons’ ownership and front office last week. Lee was initially considered by Milwaukee, but the franchise opted for an external hire and chose former Toronto assistant Adrian Griffin.

Lee or Ollie could remain in the running for Detroit’s coaching vacancy if Williams decides to take some time away from the sidelines.

While Ollie and Lee are without NBA coaching experience, Williams has nine years under his belt as a head coach. He coached in New Orleans for five seasons from 2010-15 and compiled four seasons with the Suns, starting in 2019. He received the Coach of the Year award after leading the Suns to a franchise-record 64 wins during the 2021-22 season.

The Pistons’ last two coaches were respected, experienced and prominent names, which includes Dwane Casey, who announced his transition to the front office on April 9 after the team completed the season with a league-worst 17-65 record. Despite his 121-263 record in five seasons as coach, Casey led the Pistons to their last playoff appearance in 2018-19. Stan Van Gundy coached Detroit from 2014-18 and also held the title of president of basketball operations.

Williams is no stranger to leading rebuilds. The Suns compiled a 19-63 record in 2019 and Williams helped increase their win total in three consecutive seasons: 34-39 (2019-’20), 51-21 (’20-’21), 64-18 (’21-’22). Phoenix completed a blockbuster midseason trade with the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Kevin Durant, but the team finished with a record of 45-37.

If Williams accepts the Pistons’ latest offer, he would take over a young team headlined by Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jalen Duren. Detroit likely isn’t ready to compete for the NBA playoffs as constructed, but another successful draft along with roster tweaks during free agency could put the franchise’s next coach in a viable position to compete for the Play-In tournament.

The Pistons are one of three teams remaining without coaches, alongside the Suns and Toronto Raptors. Detroit hoped to secure the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery for a chance to draft Victor Wembanyama, which would’ve made the opening more appealing, but it dropped to the fifth pick for the second straight year.

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said on April 11 that there was no sense in urgency in hiring a new coach, and the organization has shown exactly that.

With 52 days since the Pistons’ coaching search began, some began to wonder why the team remains without a lead voice, but the latest update on Williams paints a clearer picture of the extended delay.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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