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Pistons fire Stan Van Gundy

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Pistons owner Tom Gores promised changes to the organization. Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy reportedly resisted Gores’ specific ideas.

Something had to give, and apparently it was Van Gundy’s job.

Pistons release:

The Detroit Pistons announced today that Stan Van Gundy will not return as the team’s President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach. The search process for new basketball leadership, including a new head of Basketball Operations and a new Head Coach, will start immediately.

“We have decided that this change is necessary to take our basketball organization to the next level,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores.  “This was a very difficult decision and we did not come to it lightly. I am grateful to Stan for everything he’s done for the Pistons and for the City of Detroit. He rebuilt the culture of our basketball team, re-instilled a winning attitude and work ethic, and took us to the playoffs two years ago. He went all-in from day one to positively impact this franchise and this community.

“But over the past two seasons our team has not progressed, and we decided that a change is necessary to regain our momentum,” Mr. Gores said, emphasizing that Mr. Van Gundy, who has a year remaining on his contract, wanted to return.

“Stan is a competitor and he wanted to finish the job,” Mr. Gores said. “He retooled a roster that we think can be very competitive in the East. I know he’s disappointed, and that he cares deeply about his players, his staff, this organization and this city.  He’s also a professional who will make sure this is a seamless transition, and someone I hope will be a friend and adviser to me long after this transition is completed.

“I have nothing but respect and love for Stan. I think he is a great coach and a great man, and his presence and leadership helped move this franchise forward,” Mr. Gores said. “Although we did not get the success both of us wanted, his efforts and leadership have put the franchise in better shape today than when he came on board.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Van Gundy joins Doc Rivers (Clippers) and Mike Budenholzer (Hawks) as coaches who recently lost front-office power, but unlike those two, Van Gundy also lost his coaching job at the same time.

After a highly successful tenure with the Magic, Van Gundy waited three years for the right job. Detroit created it by offering dual roles. Van Gundy has made clear through the years he doesn’t fear getting fired. He wants to work on his terms. It’s unsurprising he never gave in to Gores’ preferred revamped structure.

The Pistons are definitely justified to move on. They went 152-176 in his four seasons in Detroit, making the playoffs only once and never winning a single postseason game. To achieve that mediocrity, Van Gundy capped out the team for years to come and traded its 2018 first-round pick.

But it’s less clear whether this is about punishing someone for the Pistons’ struggles or setting them up for future success. Gores’ problem wasn’t the Blake Griffin trade. The owner already declared that a victory, not something he needed to see play out. Gores admitted Detroit’s biggest problem this season was Reggie Jackson missing 37 games due to injury. If Jackson stayed healthy, perhaps Van Gundy would still be in charge.

It seems silly to tie Van Gundy’s job to a point guard’s health. Either Van Gundy was best for the job or he wasn’t.

With Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, the Pistons could easily make the playoffs next season. That might hinge on the upcoming coaching hire.

But reaching a higher upside with this capped-out roster? Van Gundy’s successor in the front office will have his hands full.

Marcus Smart announces he recovered, cleared of coronavirus

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Marcus Smart stepped forward and self-identified as having tested positive for the coronavirus. He wasn’t showing any symptoms and went into self-quarantine, and last we heard was doing well.

Sunday, Smart said that two days ago he was cleared and has fully recovered from the virus.

Most importantly, this is excellent news for Smart and his friends and family (and, by extension, the Celtics). His health is the most important thing in this story.

The NBA has asked recovered players to donate plasma because scientists are hoping to use the blood — which has developed immunities — to help create a vaccine or medicine to slow COVID-19. It’s optional, but the league is encouraging players to help.

There have been 10 players and five NBA off-court staff — including Knicks owner James Dolan — who have tested positive for the disease. Fortunately, none of them have shown any advanced symptoms that required hospitalization.

Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey declares for NBA Draft

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University of Colorado forward Tyler Bey has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The junior averaged 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Buffaloes. Bey shot 53% from the field overall and 74.3% at the free throw line.

Bey also extended his range a bit in his third year at Colorado. He knocked down 13-of-31 three-pointers (41.9%) on the season. At just six-foot-seven, he’ll need to be able to score from behind the arc to find a place in the NBA.

Most draft analysts have Bey pegged as an early second-round pick. Some thought he could play his way into the back-end of the first-round with strong pre-draft workouts. With the pre-draft process up in the air, NBA front offices may have to make their decisions based on what they’ve already seen in person and on tape.

Stephon Marbury has arrangement to procure 10 million medical masks for New York

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Former NBA player Stephon Marbury told The New York Post that he’s arranged a deal to deliver 10 million N95 medical masks to New York. These masks are much-needed among healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marbury is having the masks produced at cost in China, where he played the last seven years of his career.

Although Marbury currently lives in Beijing, China, he said “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn. This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

While growing up, Marbury starred at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and on New York City’s famed playgrounds. After one year at Georgia Tech, Marbury left for the NBA. The high-scoring guard played for five teams during his 13-year NBA career, including his hometown New York Knicks.

After sitting out for two seasons, Marbury signed to play for the Beijing Ducks in 2011. The move was initially seen as a way for Marbury to prove he could still play at an NBA level. Instead, Beijing became home-away-from home for the New Yorker.

Marbury averaged 21.6 points per game in 271 contests spread over seven seasons with the Ducks.

Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung told ESPN Jonathan Givony that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.

McClung first came to national prominence when his high school highlights blew up on YouTube:

In his second season at Georgetown, McClung averaged 15.7 points and 1.4 steals per game. A foot injury in late-January kept McClung out of the lineup for nearly a month. He returned for one game in late-February, but played just eight minutes off the Hoyas’ bench.

The six-foot-two guard is known for his deep shooting range and his highlight dunks. McClung’s shot is inconsistent however, as he shot under 40% in each of his first two seasons at Georgetown. McClung’s defense also needs work.

McClung projects to be a point guard in the NBA, due to his size. To make it as a lead guard, he’ll need to work on his ballhandling and playmaking. With those question marks, McClung is seen as a stretch to be drafted in the second round.

McClung stated he’s signing with an NBA/NCAA approved agent. That will allow him to keep his college eligibility as he goes through the pre-draft process.