News and Views: Pistons secure a coach with weeks to spare until the NBA Draft

Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons checked the primary task off of their lengthy offseason to-do list by hiring their next head coach to succeed Dwane Casey.

But not just any coach.

Monty Williams is a recent NBA Coach of the Year and one who has experience in transforming struggling teams into championship contenders.

With Williams hiring to a six-year contract worth $78.5 million — the richest coaching contract in NBA history — the Pistons quickly pivoted from their draft-lottery misfortunes with presumably one of the best hires on the open market.

Williams wasn’t sure whether he’d coach next season, as he considered taking a year off. That was before he accepted the Pistons’ record-breaking offer, but he appears up to the task of leading the young roster into the future.

“A week ago, I was not sure what the future would hold,” Williams said in a statement. “But, after talking with Tom (Gores) and Troy (Weaver), I was excited hearing their vision for the Pistons going forward.

“They also showed a commitment to success and doing things the right way,” he said. “As we discussed the team and expressed our collective goals, I realized that this would be a great opportunity for me to help a talented young team and build a strong culture here in Detroit. This is obviously a special place with a deep basketball history, and my family and I are looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of this city and organization.”

The Pistons finished with just 17 wins last season after totaling 23 the year before, and while some fans are growing restless with the rebuild, the roster is in the prime position to improve through the draft and free agency.

Williams is expected to be introduced this week, and with less than two weeks until the draft, it looks like Weaver and the rest of the Pistons’ front office are off to a promising summer.

In this edition of News & Views, we take a look at the result of the Pistons’ extensive coaching search and the team’s two picks in the upcoming NBA Draft.

News: Williams signed a record-breaking six-year deal to become the Pistons’ new coach.

Views: It’s not surprising that the Pistons made a pivot toward Williams once the Phoenix Suns parted ways with him. Detroit had a group of three candidates without NBA coaching experience, which wasn’t the most optimal situation given its extremely young roster.

It made complete sense that Pistons owner Tom Gores made an aggressive pursuit of Williams, just as he once did with Casey and Stan Van Gundy. The team wants to make the leap in 2023-24 and as long as everyone stays healthy, along with a few tweaks to the roster, Williams should be in position to help steer the franchise back in the right direction.

The most optimal outcome for next season is the opportunity to make the Play-In tournament, but even if Williams is able to lead the Pistons to 30 or 35 wins, it would be deemed a success after their recent struggles.

Hiring Williams is an investment that shows Gores wasn’t afraid to spend the money and make accommodations to secure a proven coach. Williams’ history with Weaver is a bonus.

“When we set out on this search, we wanted a leader focused on discipline, defense and development,” Weaver said in the statement. “His capability, his experience and his philosophy checks all those boxes. He has high character and high conviction. He will be a great leader and mentor for our young core, and given his career as a player, he’ll connect with our veteran players as well.”

News: Former Rockets coach Stephen Silas will become the top assistant on Williams’ new coaching staff.

Views: The addition of Silas is an interesting complementary piece for the Pistons’ retooled coaching staff. Silas, 49, has 20 years of coaching experience as an assistant and he’s coming off his first stint as a head coach with the Rockets, another team with talented young pieces.

While Silas wasn’t able to find success in Houston, he could be a valuable asset in Detroit with a different set of young players. Silas is highly regarded around the league for his offensive philosophy, and the Pistons’ offense desperately needs attention after finishing 28th in the league in offensive rating (110.7) this season.

The Pistons will reportedly target former Suns assistant Mark Bryant and former Philadelphia 76ers assistant Dan Burke for additional support, but Silas’ hiring appears to be a good start for the rest of Williams’ staff

News: The Pistons have two picks — Nos. 5 and 31— in the June 22 draft.

Views: While the Pistons didn’t hit the jackpot by winning the No. 1 overall pick, the team’s front office has flexibility with the fifth pick.

There are a handful of 3-and-D forwards in that range that could still be on the board by the time the Pistons are on the clock, including Villanova’s Cam Whitmore, Houston’s Jarace Walker, either of the Thompson twins (Amen and Ausar) and UCF forward Taylor Hendricks.

If Weaver and company opt to keep the pick, you can expect any of those names to be the Pistons’ selection. If not, and the front office elects to trade the pick, that could be the perfect time in the draft to grab some popcorn and watch what unfolds. The Pistons could trade up or down the board, or package their pick with another player to go after a veteran or future draft capital.

As for pick No. 31, the Pistons could double-down on their need at the wing position and select from any of the following players who could wind up available in the second round. Those names could include Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, South Carolina’s GG Jackson, and even Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis, UCLA’s Jamie Jaquez Jr., Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates, who both recently worked out with the Pistons.

There are a few directions that Detroit could go, but it needs to nail this draft as it has in the previous two, or else all the roster’s improvement will solely rely on trades and free agency.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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