Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores wants Stan Van Gundy to return as coach for the final year of his contract, but would prefer for that scenario to include structural changes to the franchise’s front office, league sources told ESPN.
As president of basketball operations and head coach, Van Gundy has had full authority on player personnel and staffing — but Gores has suggested changes that, so far, Van Gundy is resisting, league sources said.
Van Gundy and Gores have been talking about a way to move forward together for two weeks, and some of that discussion has centered on the future role of general manager Jeff Bower, league sources said.
Bower — whom Van Gundy hired and trusts to run the day-to-day operations of his front office — is set to meet separately with Gores this week, league sources said.
Bower is in the final year of his contract.
Van Gundy has one year and $7 million left on his original five-year deal, but most of his front office and coaching staff are in the final year of their contracts.
Van Gundy and Bower engineered the Blake Griffin trade in February, but the Pistons played without Griffin and starting point guard Reggie Jackson for much of the final stretch of a 39-43 season because of injury. With Griffin and Jackson both playing, the Pistons went 8-4. With Jackson in the lineup, the Pistons were 27-18.
Van Gundy and Bower inherited a floundering franchise in need of an overhaul, winning just 32 games in Van Gundy’s first year at the helm. The Pistons have missed the playoffs in three of the coach’s four years on the job, including each of the past two. Their only playoff berth under Van Gundy came in 2015-16, when they earned the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 44-38 record before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round.
The Pistons could be well-positioned for a return to the playoffs with a healthy roster next season.