Detroit — There were several notable faces in the audience for Monty Williams’ introductory press conference as new head coach of the Pistons on Tuesday.
Most of the roster was there, along with ownership and the front office. However, among the recognizable names were a few new ones. Former Phoenix Suns assistants Jarrett Jack, Brian Randle and Mark Bryant sat behind the players. All three coaches, along with former Suns assistant Steve Scalzi, are expected to join Williams’ new staff.
The coaching staff is headlined by former Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas, who will serve as Williams’ lead assistant, along with former Philadelphia 76ers assistant Dan Burke. Williams is also adding Spencer Rivers, the youngest son of former 76ers coach Doc Rivers as a player development coach, along with Jamelle McMillan, the son of former Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan, according to a team source.
Silas has extensive experience as an assistant, which includes stops in Dallas, Cleveland and Golden State. Most notably, Silas spent 10 of his 20 seasons as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets, from 2000-02 and 2010-18.
Burke’s history as an assistant dates back to 1989, when he received his start with the Portland Trail Blazers, a franchise he spent eight seasons with. He joined the Indiana Pacers in 1997 and became synonymous with the organization after working under Larry Bird, Rick Carlisle, Frank Vogel, McMillan and Pistons great Isiah Thomas.
“Yeah, I mean, his defensive acumen and prowess is well noted,” Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said. “I thought it was great that Monty was able to add him to the staff. You know, he’s been around, he’s been a part of great defenses and the knowledge that he’ll bring to the team and to these young men is going to be huge.”
Silas and Burke share more than 54 combined years of experience as assistant coaches, which should bode well for a young Pistons team still figuring out how to build winning habits.
“It’s extremely important to have those kind of men and coaches here to help navigate us through this,” Weaver said. “It’s everything. They’ve been through it. They know what it feels like. They know what looks like. They know what it tastes like. That’s important to the group, and you can just feel the confidence with our young men now that we have these kind of coaches here to help navigate them.”
Weaver was asked what the biggest challenge will be headed into next season. He was quite direct with his response.
“Not to be redundant, but these young guys playing with some discipline, sustained discipline,” Weaver said. “We’ve shown it at different times, but sustaining it will be the challenge. Everything else will fall in place behind that. From day one, that’s going to be our mantra. That will be a challenge, but a fun challenge.”
Cunningham injury update
It’s been a little more than two months since Cade Cunningham provided an update on his recovery process from season-ending surgery on his left leg.
The Pistons’ rising star appeared eager to get back on the floor when he spoke to Bally Sports Detroit on Tuesday following Williams’ press conference.
“I feel amazing, starting to feel back to full form,” Cunningham said. “I feel like if there was a game, I’d be ready to compete in it. You know, it’s good. I still have a lot of time left this summer to continue to get better and continue to feel better, so I’m just excited to get back out there.”
Luckily for Cunningham, there are no games to be played for at least another three months. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver also provided an update on his star player’s progress.
“He’s coming along very well,” Weaver told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s out on the floor. No five-on-five yet, but he’s looking pretty good on the floor.”
Cunningham was shut down for the majority of last season after just 12 games, due to a stress fracture in his left shin, a lingering issue that stems back to his high school days. He finished his second season averaging 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists, which marked career highs in all three categories.
Cunningham will have the rest of the offseason to ramp up his rehab for a full return to basketball activities before the start of the season.
Former Pistons assistant gets another chance in Portland
With Monty Williams’ coaching staff nearly finalized, there doesn’t appear to be much space for any of the assistants from Dwane Casey’s former staff.
Jim Moran, one of Casey’s lead assistants, was announced Thursday as the new head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers’ G League team.
The move reunites him with the franchise that gave him his first shot at coaching in the NBA during the 2014-15 season as an associate video coordinator. Moran was promoted to assistant coach in 2015 and served in the role through the 2020-21 season.
He spent two seasons with the Pistons, along with Casey’s other lead assistants: Rex Kalamian, Jerome Allen and Bill Bayno.
Moran isn’t the only member of Casey’s staff to find a new opportunity this offseason. Former assistant coach/director of coaching analytics Brittni Donaldson recently accepted a job as one of the assistants on Quin Snyder’s staff in Atlanta. Former Motor City Cruise coach and Pistons assistant DJ Bakker landed in Milwaukee as part of Adrian Griffin‘s new staff.