Basketball / Sports

Is Stan the Man? Agreement for Van Gundy to join Pistons could be finalized by end of the week

The Pistons apparently are looking to take care of their openings for a coach and a leader of basketball operations in one fell swoop.

In confirming speculation that Pistons owner Tom Gores was looking for a big name to control the franchise's direction, the organization has targeted former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to replace Joe Dumars as the Pistons' head of basketball operations. He also would coach the team.

A person with firsthand knowledge of the Pistons' plans confirmed the news to the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday afternoon. There is an expectation that an agreement could be announced soon -- perhaps by the end of the week.

Van Gundy, 54, has a .641 winning percentage in two-plus seasons with the Heat (2003-05) and five with the Magic (2007-12).

If a deal is consummated -- Yahoo.com reported that the sides are negotiating a five-year, $35-million contract -- the Pistons would be landing a good coach.

But Gores would be taking the bold step of giving Van Gundy total control over personnel.

The person with firsthand knowledge of the Pistons' plans added that a general manager would be hired to report directly to Van Gundy. The person requested anonymity because a deal isn't finalized.

The Warriors reportedly were interested in Van Gundy for their coaching vacancy but can't offer the allure of final call on personnel decisions.

The Pistons would be joining the Clippers (Doc Rivers) and the Spurs (Gregg Popovich) with an organizational structure where the power rests with the coach.

Coaching and acquiring personnel often require different skill sets -- a coach might have desires that result in short-term gain where an executive has to weigh long-term ramifications.

But obviously the Pistons would love it if Van Gundy produces Spurs-like results.

Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings tweeted: "I've always like Stan Van Gundy."

Van Gundy reached the NBA Finals with the Magic in 2009. Three years earlier, he resigned 21 games into the 2005-06 season with the Heat; Miami went on to win the NBA championship under Pat Riley.

Van Gundy coached Shaquille O'Neal with the Heat and Dwight Howard with the Magic. The Pistons offer Van Gundy the chance to work with another talented big man in Andre Drummond.

In the front office, Van Gundy would replace Dumars, who was re-assigned at the end of the season, following 14 seasons as president of basketball operations. Van Gundy also would be replacing interim coach John Loyer, who took over the team when first-year coach Maurice Cheeks was fired in February after only 50 games.

Loyer is under contract through next season, so there is a chance he would remain as an assistant coach.

Yahoo.com reported that Van Gundy would look at former Magic GM Otis Smith for the GM position, but the person familiar with the situation told the Free Press that Smith would be just one of several names under consideration.

The Pistons haven't reached the postseason since 2009, the longest drought in the Eastern Conference.

Van Gundy's career record as NBA coach is 371-208 in the regular season and 48-39 in the postseason. He coached the 2005 and 2010 Eastern Conference All-Star teams as well.

Van Gundy spoke with an Orlando radio station last week about a possible return to the NBA.

"Part of me does, and part of me doesn't," Van Gundy said. "Look, we're so happy in central Florida. It would really have to be a great situation for me to get back in.

"I miss a lot of it. I really do. I miss the competition. I miss the challenge. I miss the camaraderie of it. But I also like the time that I've had, so we'll just have to see what happens. You weigh every situation."

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