There’s still no official word on who the next Detroit Pistons coach will be, but former Raptors coach Dwane Casey looked to be providing a subtle hint on Friday morning in an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” from Cleveland.
Casey, who is a finalist for the Pistons’ coaching job, was asked about whether Blake Griffin is a superstar. His response was interesting:
“Blake Griffin is a star in this league. I haven’t coached him. His ability and his IQ are off the charts,” Casey told Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and host Molly Qerim. “I’ll let you know once I coach him down the road. You have Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, so you have some good pieces there in Detroit.”
Casey's comments about the Pistons’ top three players sounded like a coach who could be devising ways to use that trio.
To finish the segment, Qerim added another nugget that could be tipping the outcome of the Pistons’ search: “We know your phone is ringing. You’ll be landing a job soon — we hope it’s the right fit for you.”
In another interview on Friday afternoon on ESPN's "The Jump," Casey clarified his comments from earlier in the day: "It was a little slip, a little premature,” Casey told Rachel Nichols.
Casey, 61, was fired by the Raptors after leading them to a franchise-record 59-23 record this past season. He surpassed the 50-win mark in Toronto in three of his six full seasons there.
The Pistons fired Stan Van Gundy on May 7 and have been on a search for more than a month. Casey and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka have met with Pistons owner Tom Gores within the past week to narrow the list of finalists, a process led by senior adviser Ed Stefanski.
"I’ve had a couple great meetings, one with the management, with Ed Stefanski, who is a great GM. He’s big-time and he’s the main reason why the job is very appealing, along with (Griffin) and Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson," Casey added. "I had a great meeting the other night at Tom Gores' home in L.A.
"He’s a very dynamic owner and I’m very impressed with him and his leadership and his vision. We’re talking now; nothing is finalized or done. It’s still in the talking phase."
After Michigan coach John Beilein removed himself from consideration on Wednesday, the process seems to be coming close to an end, with Casey and Udoka as the final two choices.
"I know they talked to Ime Udoke, who is a very good up-and-coming coach in this league and is going to be a head coach very soon," Casey said. "It’s ongoing. I had a great conversation with Tom last night. We’ll see where it goes in the next couple days."
The Pistons’ waiting game continues — officially, that is.