CHICAGO — As Detroit Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy addressed media members in the hallway at the Quest Multisport in Chicago during Friday’s NBA Draft combine, an alarm went off on his phone.
Since Van Gundy is wearing so many hats in his new role with the Pistons, he had a radio interview to attend to as the former head coach of the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat attempts to juggle all of his new responsibilities as a member of the front office.
Asked if he was nervous with his new responsibilities as president of basketball operations, Van Gundy laid out how he plans on handling the new role in Detroit.
“I know I’ll get help on that, that doesn’t bother me,” Van Gundy said of his new role as president on Friday. “I don’t want to say, ‘makes you nervous.’ Now there’s so many balls in the air and so many different things to do. Like that’s why I have the alarm set, (I’m afraid) that I’ll miss an interview or something that I’m supposed to do because so much is going on that I’ll forget to do something. Once I get more people on board, once we’re set in place, I think I know a lot of great people in this business and there’s a lot of talent out there. You get the right people and I’ll be less nervous.”
To get better acclimated with the Pistons in an organizational sense, Van Gundy would enjoy the chance to sit down with the San Antonio Spurs brain-trust of R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich sometime this offseason, a franchise that has certainly enjoyed considerable success.
“I spent a couple of minutes with R.C. today — not much because he’s got work to do,” Van Gundy said. “But I would love to — if those guys would do it — sit down with them after the season. We’re in a good situation because right now nobody is going to look upon us as a threat, certainly not San Antonio, and they’re in the Western Conference. So maybe they’ll do it and sit down with us. I’d love to. Just how they structure things and also just the dynamics of the relationship in the (organization).”
Learning the NBA Draft process is also a work-in-progress for Van Gundy. As president of basketball operations, Van Gundy now has to account for scouting and breaking down film on the NBA Draft hopefuls that he didn’t have to do before as only a head coach.
“All year, watching games, breaking down film, doing all of that work and then a coach comes in and watches one workout and says, ‘Oh, I think we should draft the guy.’ I would go crazy and I never wanted to do that,” Van Gundy said. “And I knew I never had the knowledge, so I sat back and watched the draft. That was it. We got involved one year in Miami because the (year we got Dwyane Wade) we were out of the playoffs, we were done early, and (they) had us watch a lot of film.”
Van Gundy certainly has an uphill battle, as he takes over a Pistons team that struggled to a 29-53 record for the second consecutive season despite the offseason signing of forward Josh Smith to a max contract and a trade to acquire point guard Brandon Jennings from the Milwaukee Bucks. The 54-year-old Van Gundy takes over as president of basketball operations from former Pistons guard Joe Dumars and Van Gundy will replace Maurice Cheeks as head coach.
Scott Phillips is a regular contributor to CollegeBasketballTalk at NBCSports.com.