Report: Monty Williams return to Detroit ‘the likely outcome’

Detroit Bad Boys

Nothing is official, but a new report from NBA reporter Marc Stein indicates that Monty Williams will return to the Detroit Pistons for his second year as head coach.

Williams has approximately $65 million remaining on the six guaranteed years he signed with Detroit last offseason. The GM who signed him to that deal, potentially under protest, was Troy Weaver, who is no longer with the team.

The owner who pushed so hard to add Williams to replace Dwane Casey, Tom Gores, hired Trajan Langdon as president of basketball operations and gave him carte blanche to reshape the front office, sidelines, and roster as he saw fit.

Langdon, who has still not spoken to the media, quickly decided to move on from Weaver. He has also added Michael Blackstone to the front office and added Fred Vinson, one of the NBA’s best shooting coaches, to the assistant coaching staff.

It’s that last addition that has people thinking Williams will return to the sidelines. The news was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski, who wrote, “Fred Vinson is joining Monty Williams’ Detroit Pistons staff as an assistant coach.”

Stein spoke to a source who sees that as clear evidence Williams will be back. You can’t really blame the interpretation. Stein writes:

“Yet one source with knowledge of Detrot’s thinking told The Stein Line that Friday’s ESPN report about the Pistons hiring Fred Vinson away from New Orleans as an assistant coach is a ‘clear signal’ that Williams will be back for Year 2 of his six-year contract worth nearly $80 million.

The source described it as ‘the likely outcome.’ “

Stein credits his source as someone with “knowledge of Detroti’s thinking,” so it shouldn’t be discounted. But I am struck by how passive the framing seems to be. It’s not that they know Williams will return but that the Pistons wouldn’t add to his staff if they were going to move on.

I’m not sure why a team would be reluctant to add a sorely needed shooting specialist in any scenario. If Williams returns, there is a spot for Vinson on the staff. If Williams is fired, there is a place for Vinson on the staff.

I can buy that Williams returning is the most likely outcome, but if we’re to believe that it was basically a 50-50 proposition the day Langdon was hired, it still feels to me like it is a tossup.

If they were firm in their commitment to Williams for one more season, I’m unsure why the team hasn’t made it clear through either a news release or by having Langdon’s introductory presser.

I’ve read that Langdon is not particularly keen on speaking to the media, but it feels inevitable that he will have to talk as the organization’s new president. If he wanted to say as little as possible, you’d think that he would have done it right after being hired, where he could hand wave everything away as “being under evaluation’ and not wanting to comment until he had “gathered all the information needed.” He’s been on the job for weeks and gathered plenty of data. There is no way he wouldn’t be expected to address issues at length in a presser — including why Williams and the team failed last season and why he is being given another shot to turn things around.

The clock is ticking, and with the NBA Draft less than two weeks away, Langdon can’t hide from the microphones much longer.

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