Orlando, Fla. — This season hasn’t gone well for Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy. The Pistons are 29-32, in ninth place in the East and out of the playoff picture for now, with 21 games remaining.
It’s stoked some rumors that maybe Van Gundy is on the hot seat for at least one of his roles, unless the Pistons turn things around and make a run to the postseason.
The Sporting News’ Mitch Lawrence reported Thursday that Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem could be the successor as president.
“Stan Van Gundy is expected to at least lose his role as team president in Detroit, if not also his coaching duties, with Pistons exec Arn Tellem waiting in the wings to take over the basketball operations,” Lawrence wrote. “Tellem, one of pro sports’ top agents for the better part of 25 years, has been Pistons VP and owner Tom Gores’ right-hand man since 2015.
“Speculation is that Van Gundy will need to make the playoffs to keep his coaching job. He’s completing the fourth year of a five-year deal worth $35 million.”
Van Gundy said Friday that he hasn’t been told anything about his future in either capacity, so he’s continuing with the season to try to get the Pistons back on the right track.
Pistons owner Tom Gores supported Van Gundy in both roles in speaking to media members earlier this season, but it’s unclear whether his plans have changed.
“Nothing has been said, so I won’t even comment on that,” Van Gundy told The Detroit News Friday. “I don’t have any idea. It’s Tom’s team and he’ll make whatever decisions he wants to make and we’ll go from there.
“Nothing has been broached with me, so I’m not even going to comment on it.”
Van Gundy is 142-165 in his fourth season with the Pistons. The high-water mark of 44-38 in 2015-16 ended with a first-round sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, with optimism heading into last season.
Jackson’s injury in the preseason last year required a platelet-rich plasma injection that led to him missing the first 21 games and he was shut down for the last nine games of the season. This season, Jackson suffered a grade-3 right-ankle sprain on Dec. 26 and has missed 28 games.
That absence has hampered the playoff push this season, as the Pistons have gone 10-18 after a 19-14 start with Jackson in the lineup.
Van Gundy has overhauled the roster completely, with only Andre Drummond remaining from the original group that Van Gundy inherited. The roster has improved its talent base, recently adding Blake Griffin in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, but Van Gundy has been roundly criticized for his draft choices in two of the past three seasons, picking Luke Kennard over the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell last summer and Stanley Johnson over the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker in 2015.
Van Gundy was pleased with the Pistons’ off-ball movement in Wednesday’s win over the Bucks. It’s been one of the main focus areas, especially since acquiring Griffin in the trade.
“(The cutting) was the best all year, in terms of the number of cuts we had and the number of different guys,” Van Gundy said. “Ish (Smith) has done a better job of cutting and he adjusted well to people always wanting to help off him and turning their backs off him. He’s been able to find open areas and he’s not just standing on the perimeter.”
Reggie Bullock has been the team’s best cutter and he’s gotten plenty of residual points just off moving without the ball. It’s starting to spread now, with more of an emphasis on movement.
“We know Bullock is a great cutter, James Ennis is a good cutter and Stanley had two good cuts the other night,” Van Gundy said. “We’re starting to get it a bit better and we need to continue to improve in that area.”
PISTONS AT HEAT
Tip-off: 7:30 Saturday, American Airlines Arena, Miami
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
Outlook: The Heat (32-30) are in eighth place in the East but have lost seven of their last 10 games. The Pistons could get a big boost, gaining a full game with a win; a victory also clinches the head-to-head tiebreaker, 3-1.