6 candidates to replace Monty Williams if Pistons move on

Detroit Bad Boys

I have no idea whether the Detroit Pistons will ultimately fire head coach Monty Williams one year after signing him to a record-setting contract. It’s not my money, I don’t know the inner workings of what the team truly feels about him, or what Trajan Langdon thinks of the team the now-deposed Troy Weaver fielded for him. I know that the Pistons had an awful season, and Williams did almost nothing to impress me or make me think he is the right kind of coach to maximize the talent and potential of players 23 and under. I also know that Langdon has been given full autonomy to make a coaching change if that’s what he wants.

So maybe this story is playing with fire, or maybe it is my tiny effort to manifest something into reality. But I can’t help but ask myself where the Pistons will turn if they decide to write a big check to make Williams go away.

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JJ Redick

Until recently, JJ Redick seemed to be the frontrunner for the head coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers. Then we got a Dan Hurley Woj Bomb, and I’m not sure that ever sees the light of day if Hurley is anything but a done deal. In LA, the former NBA star and star podcaster would join his podcast cohost, LeBron James. Star players wanting a recently retired star who is player friendly and “gets the game” has a spotty history, to say the least. Remember Steve Nash in Brooklyn? Still, it’s clear that Redick has a decidedly modern understanding of successful NBA basketball, and the idea of an optimized offense and complementary players sharing the floor at all times would be awfully enticing. If the Pistons want a young coach with a modern take on winning in the NBA and are willing to bet on a guy looking to prove himself, Redick could be a real candidate. On the other hand, that description applies to more experienced candidates. While Redick would garner headlines, the Pistons need to fight the urge to win the news cycle and instead hire the best coach for this year and five years from now.

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans

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James Borrego

James Borrego has been a longtime NBA assistant who got his first head coaching gig with the Charlotte Hornets from 2018-22. He was never able to get over the playoff hump in Charlotte and was dismissed, but he was 43-39 in his final season. The Pistons haven’t had 43 wins since 2015, and only that one time since 2008. Borrego is a hot coaching candidate, seemingly making it far with the Lakers, and he remains a finalist for the Cleveland Cavaliers vacancy.

He also has ties to new Pistons president Trajan Langdon as he transitioned from Charlotte to New Orleans, where he has been associate head coach under Willie Green since 2023. Langdon would seemingly know him well, and if he believes in Borrego’s ability and wants someone he feels comfortable with, Borrego could finally get his second chance at a head coaching gig.

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David Adelman

David Adelman would be a big swing on a hot, up-and-coming assistant. He would come cheaper than more established options like Borrego or Kenny Atkinson (see below). Adelman is the son of former NBA coach Rick Adelman, and he seems to have inherited plenty of the schematic creativity from his dad. Adelman is currently the lead assistant under Michael Malone in Denver. He is credited with a lot of the Nuggets’ offensive attack, and, look, you’re always going to look like an offensive wizard if you are running your offense through Nikola Jokic. However, leaning into Jokic’s strengths and maximizing all the flexibility he gives you as the best-passing big man of all time takes a lot of talent. Adelman is an NBA lifer thanks to being the son of a coach, and he knows offense. The Pistons are desperate for someone who knows offense at an elite level. He’d be one of my favorite candidates for the post if there were an opening in Detroit.

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat

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Chris Quinn

If you’re looking for a little Heat Culture in Detroit, Chris Quinn is your man. He just finished his 10th season as an assistant coach in Miami and has risen to the level where he is the fill-in head coach when Erik Spoelstra is forced to miss a game. Quinn is heavily involved in Miami’s player development program. Of the many failings you can point to in Detroit in the past decade-plus is its inability to have an established program that helps young players eliminate weaknesses and build strengths. Quinn is also a former NBA player and has been a head coaching candidate through several hiring cycles the past several years. Quinn feels long past due to get his shot at the head chair. He’s paid his dues, he’s grinded out of the spotlight in Miami. He’s like the anti-Redick candidate.

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets

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Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson has been a hot name in head coaching circles since he was fired after getting a sum greater than its parts as the leader of the Brooklyn Nets. He has a reputation as creating a quality development atmosphere and getting the most out of the talents of his rotation. He’s also spent the past three seasons as a lead assistant in Golden State under Steve Kerr. If there is a knock on Atkinson, it would be that he is already 57 years old and has seemed to resist the urge to jump back into the head coaching gauntlet if it was in service of an extremely young, developing team. Also, I’d say his X’s and O’s history is more middling than exemplary, and I wonder if an old-school coach like Atkinson is what the Pistons need right now.

2024 NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks

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Micah Nori

These days, Micah Nori is a media darling as a lead assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nori is an NBA lifer who served as an assistant coach under Dwane Casey from 2018-21. He also routinely delivers the sideline TV interviews for the Wolves, and his humorous and folksy analogies have made him someone impossible to root for. But not every assistant coach is head coach material. Nori is a bit of a mystery box. An assistant who was never on the fast track to a head job, but someone who has capably filled in for Chris Finch in Minnesota when called upon. ls he ready for the big time? Is he particularly interested? Does he have the creative juices to turn this Pistons roster (or whatever it becomes in the next three months) into something worth watching? Worth building. If you asked Nori that question, I’m sure he’d have some charming wisdom to instill. I’ll just shrug my shoulders and hope that among the many talents of new president Trajan Langdon is identifying the best potential head coach for his new team.

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