Pistons Part Ways With Monty Williams

10:41am: The Pistons have officially confirmed that Williams won’t return as the team’s head coach in 2024/25, announcing the decision in a press release (Twitter link).

“Decisions like these are difficult to make, and I want to thank Monty for his hard work and dedication,” Gores said in a statement. “Coaching has many dynamic challenges that emerge during a season and Monty always handled those with grace.  However, after reviewing our performance carefully and assessing our current position as an organization, we will chart a new course moving forward.

“I have great respect for Monty as a coach and as a person and I am certain he will be successful in his future endeavors. I sincerely wish him and his family the very best.”

8:33am: The Pistons are making a head coaching change, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has decided to dismiss Monty Williams just one season into his six-year, $78.5MM contract with the franchise.

Williams, who coached the Suns for four seasons from 2019-23, was let go by Phoenix last spring and appeared to be leaning toward taking a year off. After resisting Detroit’s initial overtures, Williams agreed to meet with Pistons owner Tom Gores and then-GM Troy Weaver and ultimately accepted a massive contract that was largest for a coach in NBA history at the time.

However, Williams’ first year in Detroit was a disaster from start to finish. The Pistons opened the season with 36 losses in their first 39 games, including 28 in a row, which set a new single-season record. The team – which entered the fall with aspirations of taking a step forward and vying for a spot in the postseason – had an overall record of 14-68, making it the worst season by winning percentage in the organization’s 76-year history.

The Pistons parted ways with Weaver earlier this offseason, replacing him with new head of basketball operations Trajan Langdon. Multiple reports since Langdon’s hiring indicated that the new president would be given free rein to make a head coaching change, despite the $65MM+ in guaranteed money left on Williams’ deal.

According to both Vince Goodwill of Yahoo Sports and James L. Edwards of The Athletic (Twitter links), Gores made the final call on Williams within the past 24 hours, with Langdon informing the veteran coach of the decision on Wednesday. Those reports don’t explicitly state whether or not Langdon recommended a change to Gores, but either way, the new top front office executive in Detroit now has the opportunity to bring in his own head coach for 2024/25 and beyond.

The Pistons will join the Lakers and Cavaliers as teams seeking new head coaches. While those other two clubs have been conducting searches for several weeks, Detroit is getting a late start, so we’ll see what sort of timeline the team has in mind for making a hire — the NBA draft is just one week away, while the Las Vegas Summer League schedule will get underway on July 12.

Some of the candidates under consideration for the jobs in Los Angeles and Cleveland figure to be on the Pistons’ radar. One notable name to watch, according to Goodwill (Twitter link), is Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego, who is viewed as a legitimate contender for both the Lakers and Cavs as well. Detroit will strongly consider Borrego if he’s available, says Goodwill. The Pistons have already poached one assistant from Langdon’s former team in New Orleans this offseason, reaching a deal to hire Fred Vinson.

It’s unclear whether Williams will become a contender for either of the NBA’s other head coaching vacancies or if he’ll take that year off that he didn’t get in 2023/24. Certainly, with $65MM+ in pay checks still coming his way, he’ll be feeling no financial pressure to get back to work anytime soon.

As a result of the Pistons’ dismal showing this past season, Williams now has a sub-.500 career record as a head coach, having posted a 381-404 (.485) mark across 10 years in New Orleans, Phoenix, and Detroit. He won five playoff series with the Suns and made the NBA Finals in 2021.

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