Dwane Casey

Pistons To Interview Rex Kalamian For Head Coaching Job

The Pistons will interview assistant coach Rex Kalamian this week for their head coaching vacancy, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Kalamian is a veteran assistant coach who is currently in his 26th NBA season in that role. He has made previous stops with the Clippers (twice), Nuggets, Wolves, Kings (twice), Thunder and Raptors, and has been with the Pistons for the past two seasons.

It was previously reported that Kalamian might receive some consideration from GM Troy Weaver for the head coaching job after Dwane Casey decided to transition to a front office role. Kalamian previously worked with Weaver while they were with Oklahoma City.

Kalamian, who is also the head coach of the Armenian national team, served as acting head coach earlier this season when Casey missed some time due to personal reasons.

While conceding that it’s still early in the process, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack piece (subscriber link) that he’s heard “consistent buzz” that Weaver might favor Bucks assistant Charles Lee and former UConn coach Kevin Ollie for the opening. However, Stein notes that Arn Tellem, Detroit’s vice chairman, is thought to have “considerable influence” in the coaching search.

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Ivey, Casey, Expectations, Gores

Cade Cunningham‘s backcourt partnership with Jaden Ivey was delayed by Cunningham’s season-ending shin injury. Cunningham was impressed by Ivey’s growth this season and can’t wait to see how they’ll blend together for the Pistons next season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.

“The pace and the poise he showed at the end of the year, I knew he was going to be that but I didn’t realize he was going to pick it up so fast,” Cunningham said. “To see that was huge for the team and huge for him to feel that. He’s only going to take more steps like that every year he’s playing. With his work ethic, he’s going to be great. I’m excited for him and I’m excited to play with him.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Cunningham says he’s making steady progress from shin surgery, reports Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscription required). “I’m at full-body weight in running right now, which was a big step for me,” Cunningham said. “I’m shooting jump shots now. I’m doing a little bit of changing direction right now. Not too much, as far as running up and down and changing direction yet, but the next week or two weeks, I should be getting that going. I’m progressing pretty fast right now. I’m at a point now that I’m at full body weight; I can do a lot more.”
  • The players spoke of their respect for their now former coach, Dwane Casey, and are happy that he’ll remain with the organization in a front office role, Curtis relays in another subscriber-only story. “Definitely sad to see him step down, but I know he said he’s going to stay around the team and around the organization,” rookie Jalen Duren said. “I just talked to him. I thanked him for giving me the opportunity.”
  • The Pistons will have a top five lottery pick and the cap flexibility to make moves to upgrade the roster. Cunningham knows expectations will ramp up in the fourth season under general manager Troy Weaver, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required). “We have a big summer ahead of us, because next year is the year for us,” Cunningham said. “It’s a huge year, a year that we need to take another step and improve and be better.”
  • Owner Tom Gores lauded Casey’s willingness to go through the rebuild process and develop a young roster in a statement relayed by The Detroit News. “Under the leadership of General Manager Troy Weaver, he has helped re-set our culture and restored our aspiration to compete at a high level and contend for championships,” he said. “Of course, there is still lots of work to do. But, as we enter the next phase of this rebuild, I am optimistic about our team and our direction, and very excited about the newest member of our front office, Dwane Casey.”

Dwane Casey To Transition To Pistons’ Front Office

Dwane Casey will still be part of the Pistons‘ organization next season, but the team will be in the market for a new head coach this spring.

Following Detroit’s regular season finale on Sunday, Casey told reporters – including Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) – that he’s transitioning from the Pistons’ bench to a front office role.

“(Team owner) Tom (Gores) is giving me an opportunity to move into the front office,” Casey said, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I’m excited to go to the next phase of my life. Time to spend more time with my family. This team is on the right track. They probably need to hear a new voice. This is my decision.”

Casey joined the Pistons in 2018, fresh off earning Coach of the Year honors in Toronto. He was let go by the Raptors due to the club’s disappointing postseason results. In Detroit, Casey led the team to a playoff berth in his first season, but was swept out of the first round and didn’t make it back in any of his four subsequent seasons as the Pistons embarked on a rebuild.

In total, Casey led the Pistons to 121-263 (.315) record across five seasons. Speaking to reporters today, he said that – while he’s not running away from his win-loss record – he hopes his legacy in Detroit is more about the growth of the team’s current young core than the underwhelming results on the court (Twitter link via Edwards).

Bucks assistant Charles Lee and former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka are expected to be among the candidates to replace Casey on the sidelines in Detroit, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link) confirms those names and adds a couple more, identifying Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and Heat assistant Chris Quinn as possibilities.

Edwards and Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) suggest that former Pistons star Jerry Stackhouse, who is now the head coach at Vanderbilt, could also be an intriguing target, though it’s unclear if that’s just speculation or if he’s actually on Detroit’s wish list.

The Pistons will join the Rockets as the first two teams launching head coaching searches this spring.

Coaching Changes May Be Coming In Detroit, Toronto, Houston

The Pistons, Raptors and Rockets are the main teams to watch for head coaching changes once the NBA season ends, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Detroit’s Dwane Casey met with ownership to discuss his future after Wednesday’s game, and sources tell Fischer that some staff members are preparing for a change to take place. Fischer cites a source with knowledge of the situation who says Casey may be given the option of returning as head coach for the final year of his contract or moving into an advisory role with the front office.

Bucks assistant Charles Lee, who has interviewed for numerous head coaching positions in the past, is a top candidate if the Pistons’ job opens up, according to Fischer, who hears that Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin may be given consideration as well. Griffin previously worked under general manager Troy Weaver as an assistant coach in Oklahoma City.

Nick Nurse amplified questions about his status in Toronto last weekend when he said he plans to take some time after the season to evaluate his future with the organization. There were already rumors that the Raptors were considering a coaching move following a disappointing season that will result in a spot in the play-in tournament.

Former Celtics coach Ime Udoka is considered a leading candidate to replace Nurse if he either decides to move on or is dismissed by the team. Udoka was a finalist for the job before Nurse was hired in 2018, and he has a strong relationship with executive Masai Ujiri through the Basketball Without Borders program.

Nurse could wind up in Houston, where Stephen Silas appears likely to be replaced after three years of rebuilding, Fischer adds. Nurse was the Rockets’ G League coach from 2011-13, but he’s not the only potential candidate with ties to Houston or to James Harden, who will reportedly be an offseason target in free agency.

Fischer notes that Trail Blazers assistant Scott Brooks coached Harden in Oklahoma City, while Pistons assistant Rex Kalamian worked on Brooks’ staff with the Thunder. Fischer states that Kalamian has been mentioned by several NBA sources as a potential addition in Houston, possibly as an assistant.

Elsewhere, Fischer hears that league personnel are watching Steve Clifford’s future with the Hornets. The current leadership isn’t considering replacing Clifford, who’s still on the first season of his new contract, Fischer adds, but that could change if Michael Jordan sells enough of his interest in the team that there’s a new primary governor.

Dwane Casey Discusses Future With Pistons

With one year remaining on his contract, Dwane Casey isn’t a lock to return as the Pistons’ coach next season. One of the early steps in making that decision took place when Casey met with members of the team’s ownership after Wednesday’s game, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

“We talked about how we’re going to look at everything and meet again after we’re all done and see which way we all want to go as far as the organization,” Casey said. “There’s nothing that’s been decided as far as that’s concerned.”

Casey joined the Pistons in 2018 shortly after being fired by the Raptors despite winning Coach of the Year honors. He inherited a playoff-level team built around Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson and went 41-41 in his first season.

The Pistons eventually shifted to rebuilding mode, and when Troy Weaver was hired as general manager in 2020, he viewed Casey as the best coach to develop young talent. Casey was rewarded with an extension that runs through the end of next season.

According to Sankofa, Casey has enjoyed a full vote of confidence from the Pistons’ decision makers, including owner Tom Gores and senior advisor Arn Tellem as well as Weaver. That has enabled him to become the league’s sixth longest-tenured head coach despite a 120-262 record.

Coming off a promising year centered around No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, Detroit entered this season with hopes of contending for a play-in spot. But Cunningham played just 12 games before undergoing season-ending shin surgery in December, and the Pistons have gone through another year of losing with a young roster. At 16-64, they have clinched the worst record in the NBA and are in danger of setting a franchise mark for the most losses in a season.

Despite the frustrations, hope remains for a quick turnaround next season. Whether Casey will be part of that next step is a decision that will be made this summer.

“I’m here,” Casey told reporters when asked about his status. “I’m under contract for another year. I committed to Tom that we were winning 60 games when I left (Toronto), and now we’re losing 60 games, but I committed to him to come in and turn around the organization. We are where we are right now. I know it seems like it’s forever away, but we’re not that far away. This team is not that far away.”

Central Notes: Wiseman, Green, Donovan, Haliburton, Turner

Pistons center James Wiseman is going to make it a priority this offseason to improve his strength with a weightlifting regimen, per head coach Dwane Casey (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press).

First selected with the No. 2 pick out of Memphis in 2020, Wiseman failed to find his footing with the Warriors and was flipped to Detroit at the trade deadline in a four-team transaction. Since being sent to the rebuilding Pistons, the seven-footer has enjoyed a much more active role, averaging 13.4 PPG on 55.2% shooting, along with 8.7 RPG and 0.8 BPG across 26.0 MPG.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bucks two-way rookie guard A.J. Green has an interesting history with Milwaukee as a city, as Lori Nickel of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. His father, Kyle Green, served as an assistant coach at Marquette during the 2003/04 NCAA season. Kyle Green left his post to become a head coach at Lewis University in Chicago. The Iowa Barnstormers, A.J. Green’s AAU team, meanwhile, played at a tournament in Milwaukee while he was in high school. “I had an idea of what the city was like,” A.J. said. “Obviously, good basketball, good players, and good people. I knew that Milwaukee liked me, but it was not a sure thing. I’m so glad it was here.”
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has faced some criticism for an underwhelming season, but he’s earning praise from several of his best players, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s definitely underrated, underappreciated on the outside,’’ All-Star DeMar DeRozan said. ‘‘He’s easy-going, and as much as he’s locked into the game and pays attention to the small things, it’s incredible. His play-calling, his schemes — he puts a lot into the game that too many people don’t see.’’ At 36-40, the Bulls are currently the tenth seed in the East and are on the cusp of a play-in tournament berth.
  • Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton and sharpshooting center Myles Turner could be shut down for the rest of the season, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “They’ll be listed however they’re listed game-to-game,” head coach Rick Carlisle said following a team practice today. “If you’re asking if it’s possible that they don’t play anymore, yeah, it’s possible. It’s not impossible that one of them would play, but we’re going game to game with it.” Turner has missed the team’s last three games with a sore left ankle and sore lower back, while Haliburton has been absent for the last two due to a right ankle sprain and sore left elbow. Indiana is currently 3.5 games behind the Bulls for the No. 10 seed in the East.

Central Notes: Drummond, G. Allen, Mobley, Casey

After Bulls center Andre Drummond posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he was deleting his social media apps in order to “focus on my mental health,” he was listed as out for Wednesday’s game vs. the Lakers for personal reasons.

According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said he sent a text message to Drummond to let him know “we’re all here to try to help him.” Donovan added that there’s optimism that the big man will be with the team when it travels to Charlotte for a Friday game against the Hornets.

“Your heart goes out for anybody. I think a lot of times as we come here and play games, there’s also a human side and personal side to all these guys. And you feel bad when anybody is going through something like that,” Donovan said. “I think you try to give as much support as you can. We have the resources inside the organization to help.”

Bulls star DeMar DeRozan is among the NBA players who have spoken in recent years about dealing with mental health issues and depression. DeRozan said his approach with Drummond will be to give him space but let him know he’s available if his teammate wants to talk.

“Give him my positive words and let him know we’re all there for him,” DeRozan said. “That’s the most we can do. Allow him to open up on his terms.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen earned a $425K bonus when he appeared in his 70th game of the season on Wednesday night, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Because Allen only played 66 games in 2021/22, that bonus has been considered unlikely, but it will now be considered likely in 2023/24, bumping his cap hit for next season from $8.5MM to $8.925MM.
  • Michael Pina of The Ringer takes an in-depth look at Evan Mobley‘s trajectory toward stardom, exploring the ongoing development and potential ceiling of the Cavaliers big man. “It’s rare to find somebody so mature right away on both ends of the court,” teammate Ricky Rubio said of Mobley. “I wouldn’t be surprised if his career ended up in the Hall of Fame.”
  • In a pair of mailbags for The Athletic, James L. Edwards fields Pistons-related questions on potential trade targets, the team’s crowded frontcourt, Dwane Casey‘s future, and much more. Regarding Casey, Edwards believes it’s more likely than not that the veteran coach will be back for next season, perhaps with a mandate to at least make the play-in tournament in 2023/24.

Pistons Owner Optimistic Despite Rough Start

The Pistons have the worst record in the NBA but it doesn’t seem as if owner Tom Gores is looking to make any changes to the coaching staff and front office.

Gores is happy with head coach Dwane Casey and GM Troy Weaver and believes the young core Weaver has built will eventually revitalize the franchise, as he told Mike Curtis of the Detroit News.

“We’re growing,” Gores said. “Right now, we have an amazing core group and a lot of confidence. We’re better than our record is. We’re much better than that and I like the way that this team has a lot of heart. I feel great about it. Dwane’s doing good work. Troy continues to think about growth and everything, so I feel great about it.”

Weaver has drafted six players in the first round in three years, including last year’s top overall selection, Cade Cunningham, who is sidelined with a shin injury that may require surgery. Both of the team’s lottery picks this June, point guard Jaden Ivey and center Jalen Duren, have displayed high promise in the first 18 games but the Pistons have only three wins to show for it.

The Pistons are also currently missing two other players, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, both of whom were selected during the first draft with Weaver in charge in 2020. Gores sees a silver lining, as other players get opportunities.

“What’s great is, it’s the next man up,” he said. “Everybody has to do their job. We’re a team, and injuries are a part of the game, so we have to know how to deal with that. Good luck, bad luck, we’ve got to make our luck.”

Gores is especially pleased with the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic, who recently signed a two-year extension. He leads the team in scoring (20.5 points per game) and gives the lineup a veteran presence.

“We’re lucky to have Bojan,” Gores told The News. “I’ll tell you what, he’s a tremendous veteran along with Alec Burks, as well. I think we’re very fortunate. We would be a different team without those veterans. The thing is, veterans bring a lot of experience, but both these guys can play, too. You can’t teach the young men unless you can play, also.”

Pistons Notes: Breakout Players, Walker, Casey

Before the Pistons can take a leap in the win column and contend for the postseason, the team will need its young role players to improve in their development. Mike Curtis of The Detroit News identifies power forward Marvin Bagley III — the former No. 2 lottery pick in 2018 — athletic wing Hamidou Diallo, and center Isaiah Stewart as three such role players capable of growing their games in 2022/23.

Curtis thinks that Bagley could become a reliable option in the post if he can stay healthy next year. Curtis also opines that Diallo could see his standing in the Detroit hierarchy improve if he grows as a long-range shooter. Stewart’s three-point output has been limited in the last two seasons. He has connected on 33% of his 0.8 attempts thus far in his NBA career. Curtis writes that the 6’8″ big man showed off an increased willingness to let fly from outside during two Summer League contests with Detroit in Las Vegas this year. Overall, Stewart shot 5-of-9 from outside.

There’s more out of the Motor City:

  • The Pistons may still be holding out hope that they can use the expiring $9.2MM remaining on veteran point guard Kemba Walker‘s current contract in a trade. Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes in a new mailbag that, if such a deal does not materialize in time for the start of NBA training camps later this month, Detroit could move to buy him out of his deal. Elsewhere in the mailbag, Langlois says he considers Isaiah Livers the most likely new addition to the Pistons’ starting lineup this season, and thinks star point guard Cade Cunningham, the top draft pick in 2021, could be in line for All-Star consideration this season if he continues to develop.
  • In an interview with Johnny Kane of Bally Sports Detroit (Twitter video link), Pistons head coach Dwane Casey expressed enthusiasm about the team’s ability to grow next season. Casey hailed Cade Cunningham and 2022 No. 5 overall pick Jaden Ivey as “stars to be.” Casey anticipates that the team will at the very least improve from its 23-59 record in 2021/22. “You expect growth,” Casey said (hat tip to Mike Curtis of The Detroit News for the transcription). “The internal growth is very important. One thing [GM] Troy Weaver has done is brought a bunch of young, hard-working, character guys in that have been working all summer. I can see the improvement. The game has slowed down for a guy like Saddiq Bey. You mentioned Cade Cunningham. You mention Isaiah Stewart — all those guys, the game has slowed down for them.”
  • The Pistons recently agreed to sign free agent big man Micah Potter to a training camp deal. Get the full details here.

Central Notes: Pistons, Turner, Bitadze

There are many ways Pistons coach Dwane Casey could go with his rotation next season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. In Langlois’ view, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Ivey are the only rotation locks, with Kelly Olynyk, Marvin Bagley III, Killian Hayes and Alec Burks “good bets” to join them. Beyond that, Casey has numerous choices between youth and experience.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons fans are brimming with optimism, though they’re realistic about next season’s prospects, The Athletic’s James Edwards III revealed in a fan poll. With nearly 2,000 subscribers weighing in, 98 percent professed confidence in the team’s direction and 64 percent said they were very confident in the front office. However, 72.5 percent voted that the team would only win between 26-35 games next season. Second-year forward Isaiah Livers received the most votes for “breakout” player.
  • Myles Turner‘s season could play out similar to the way Victor Oladipo departed from the Pacers organization in 2020, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files opines. Turner could get off to a good start and pump up his trade value. In the same mailbag piece, Agness speculates that Goga Bitadze won’t have a long-term role in the organization due to the team’s current playing style, along with the presence of Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith.
  • Earlier on Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo stated he wouldn’t mind playing for the Bulls later in his career. Get the details here.