Van Gundy says Pistons will be his last stop in NBA
Orlando, Fla. — No, Stan Van Gundy isn't looking to the end of his time as Pistons czar. He's just seven months into a long and arduous process.
But unlike many coaches with his credentials and winning percentage, he's declaring Detroit to be his final stop as a coach — whenever that time ends
"I've got five years, I'll be at 60 (years old) and I promised my wife, seriously," Van Gundy said. "I wanted one more shot at it. I've got a great owner, a great situation with great tradition. I should be able to get it turned around in the time he's given me. If I don't, I don't. But I should be able to. This will be the last.
"Detroit will be. Detroit will be."
He thought Orlando would be his last stop as a coach, a common theme for coaching lifers who believe the current situation is the best and final one. Van Gundy spent five years as coach of the Magic after two full seasons in Miami — where he resigned 20-something games into the 2005-06 season.
"Oh yeah, definitely. That's what I did think," Van Gundy said when asked if he thought Orlando would be it for him.
"I ended up taking another job. At the time I didn't anticipate another opportunity or anything."
Van Gundy said there's been no nostalgia walking into Amway Center, the same building that hosted the NBA Finals in 2009 when Van Gundy led the Magic there — along with numerous long playoff runs.
Ownership wanted to go in another direction when it broomed out Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith in an effort to keep franchise center Dwight Howard from departing in 2012. Howard wound up in Los Angeles and eventually Houston, while former Pistons vice president Scott Perry wound up taking a similar position with the Magic in 2012.
Van Gundy, of course, wound up with the Pistons and Smith is the D-League coach in Grand Rapids.
Van Gundy wanted to make clear, though, he could extend his stay if he gets things turned around in Detroit. He signed a five-year deal in the spring.
"I didn't say I'd only stay five years but that's the last move we're gonna make," Van Gundy said.
If the Pistons didn't come calling with a sweetheart deal of coaching and personnel control?
"Sit on my back porch. Take naps every day and look at the lake," Van Gundy said. "I was going to keep doing what I was doing. A little radio, a little TV."
He did radio with Miami columnist Dan LeBatard during his coaching sabbatical, but he said he didn't need to sit on the other side of sport to understand it.
"I think I've always had a healthy respect for what media does," Van Gundy said. "I've always had an understanding that media has a job to do. I haven't bitched much about what the media does. It's a lot harder than what I thought. So I gained a respect in that way. I've always had a good perspective on what you guys have to do and how hard it is.
"It took a great deal more preparation than I thought. I couldn't just go on the radio and just talk, or go on TV and not do some work. The actual mechanics on TV and radio were different. Luckily, nobody really trusted me to do it, but it was still a difficult thing."