Chicago (AFP) – Stan Van Gundy was fired as coach and president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons on Monday, unable to turn the struggling NBA club into a consistent winner.
The Pistons went 152-176 in four campaigns under Van Gundy, whose younger brother Jeff is a former NBA coach now working as a television analyst.
Detroit went 44-38 in 2015-16 for the team’s only playoff appearance since 2009, being swept out by Cleveland in the first round. The Pistons last won an NBA playoff game in a 2008 run to the Eastern Conference finals.
“We have decided that this change is necessary to take our basketball organization to the next level,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said. “This was a very difficult decision and we did not come to it lightly.”
Gores praised Van Gundy as the key person who “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.”
The departure of Van Gundy, who had one year remaining on his contract, leaves the Pistons with two holes to fill, coaching and organizing team personnel.
“His presence and leadership helped move this franchise forward,” 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.”
The Pistons went 39-43 in the just completed season, two games better than last season but still four games behind Washington for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
“He retooled a roster that we think can be very competitive in the East,” Gores said. “I know he’s disappointed.”