The Pistons were the NBA’s youngest playoff team last year, and they returned their core and upgraded their bench. This season was supposed to be another step forward.
Instead, the Pistons are 19-24. Their defense is a wreck. Reggie Jackson‘s return from injury has invited finger-pointing. A lot of talk has produced little change.
Where does that leave president/coach Stan Van Gundy?
Pistons owner Tom Gores, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:
“I have absolute confidence in Stan,” Gores said. “We are having a hard time — and Stan and I are very real about that — but we also know we have a great group of guys and we believe they’ll work through this.”
“We’ve got a bump in the road and that’s what success is about — you have to work through it. It’s all about having rough times and your ability to work through,” Gores said. “I never worry about Stan because he wants to win; he’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen in my life.
“I believe in him as a man and I believe in him as a strong person.”
This is why Van Gundy, a career coach, pushed to become team president. He has only one boss now, protecting his job security. Only Gores – not some middleman – can fire him.
Gores has staked his reputation on Van Gundy by giving Van Gundy such broad power. That’ll buy Van Gundy much more time to turn this around.
The Pistons aren’t as bad as they’ve looked – if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets healthy. Regression to the mean and a softer schedule will lift Detroit. But the Pistons are already down in the standings and Caldwell-Pope is so important to them, it might be too late for this season. So much rides on the shooting guard’s rotator cuff, but Detroit’s struggles also mean depending on other teams to falter.
If the Pistons miss the playoffs, it’d be a disappointing season in Detroit. But that probably wouldn’t cost Stan Van Gundy his job.