New coach Monty Williams calls Pistons job opportunity a ‘true blessing’

Detroit News

Detroit — Monty Williams looked directly to his right and pointed at the large group of players he inherited when he accepted the job as new coach of the Pistons.

Among those in attendance for Williams’ introductory press conference on Tuesday was Pistons owner Tom Gores, general manager Troy Weaver and players Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Isaiah Livers, who all sat in the front row to support their new head coach as he was officially welcomed by the organization.

It was the first time Williams would speak publicly about his new head-coaching opportunity, and he discussed several topics including his motivations for coming to Detroit, his plan for continuing the next phase of the franchise’s “restoration,” his coaching staff and his family, which includes his wife and six children.

But first, Williams, the coach known for his relatability and relationships with his players, acknowledged his team and thanked them for being present.

“To these men over here, to have the whole team here outside of Bojan (Bogdanovic), it messed me up this morning in the meeting when I found out all you guys were here,” Williams said. “You’ll find out that I get emotional sometimes over good stuff like that, and I’m so grateful for all of you guys being here. I’m grateful to have dogs like you in the fight for me.

“I could go on and on with the gratitude that I have in my heart for this opportunity to be in this position,” Williams said. “Across the board, everybody has embraced me and made me feel like I’ve been here for a while. I thank you for that. This is a true blessing for me and my family and we will make you proud.”

Williams initially planned to take a year off from coaching due to health concerns for his wife, Lisa, who he revealed to have a breast cancer diagnosis during the playoffs. However, he signed a record-breaking contract to become the new head coach of the Pistons after a second-effort by Gores and the rest of the front office brass. With an established relationship with Weaver that predates their time together in Oklahoma City, the familiarity and consideration of his family sealed the deal for Williams.

Gores’ generous offer of six years and $78.5 million made Williams the highest-paid coach in NBA history, which Williams admits was a large part of why he accepted the job instead of taking time off.

“The quick answer is obviously Troy, the players, and the money,” Williams said. “That’s something that people don’t talk about. They always say ‘it wasn’t for the money,’ I always laugh at that. I think that’s disrespectful. When someone’s that generous to pay me that kind of money, one, that should be applauded and two, that should be talked about.”

Speaking of money, Williams has already begun to fill out his coaching staff with the addition of former Rockets coach Stephen Silas and Philadelphia 76ers assistant Dan Burke. Several of his assistants from Phoenix were also in attendance, including former NBA guard Jarrett Jack.

Silas is Williams’ new top assistant who brings more than 20 years of coaching experience to the Pistons.

“We all know he’s a great coach…but the person that he is is something that I’ve admired for a while,” Williams said. “He’s going to be the lead assistant. He’s been a head coach. I think he’s someone who can call me up when I get off track and somebody that can relate to the loneliness of the head coaching position. He’ll be somebody that I lean on a lot, along with the other members of the staff.”

Williams, who led the Phoenix Suns from a 19-win team the season before he arrived to a championship contender within three seasons, is embracing the historic significance that comes with being coach of the Pistons. As a franchise that holds three championships, the Pistons are desperately seeking a return to the postseason and Williams appears up for the challenge to not only lead the team back to its glory days, but to embrace the city as well.

“I wanna have success here to the point where people think I’m from Detroit,” Williams said. “I want to have that kind of impact. I told the players this morning that I’m going to give them everything I have because it has been a franchise with a rich history and that’s something that’s important to me.”

As the first of what will be many press conferences from Williams concluded, the new Pistons coach walked embraced his son before he walked over to his players, greeting and shaking the hands of each one.

And thus, the Monty Williams era has begun.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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