Gores: Van Gundy’s future with Pistons to be determined

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — For Pistons owner Tom Gores, the message is still the same about the future of Stan Van Gundy in his roles as both the coach and team president.

And that word is “unclear.”

Gores, who sat courtside for the Pistons’ home finale on Monday night against the Toronto Raptors at Little Caesars Arena, didn’t shed any new light on the franchise’s future and whether he would let Van Gundy finish out the final year of his contract next season or move in a different direction.

Gores said after the Blake Griffin trade in February that he would wait until after the season to make a determination.

He doubled down on that Monday.

“We’re going to meet next week and discuss what’s going on. At the same time, he’s dedicated the last four years and Stan and I are partners,” Gores said. “There’s no way I would make a decision without talking to Stan and he’s been really busy with the season. That’s a decision Stan and I make.”

The Pistons (38-43) lost to the Raptors, 108-98, and although they surpassed their win total of 37 from last season, they will miss the playoffs for the second straight year — and third time in Van Gundy’s tenure, bringing the future into question.

They’ve had to deal with injuries to Jackson, who missed 37 games, and Griffin, which derailed their playoff push, but Gores said those are factors in the joint decision that they’ll make about what direction to go next.

Asked about why the Pistons haven’t won as much as he’d like, Gores pointed directly to Jackson’s absence.

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“For sure, Reggie. You can see the incredible difference he’s made. At the same time, we have to be prepared,” Gores said. “It was sad to see Reggie get hurt … “Reggie has made a difference but we have to get used to players get injured. No excuses — we have no excuses.”

While most of the coaching staff and front office have contracts that expire this summer, Van Gundy still has the one year remaining on his deal, which is part of the reason for the questions. The Pistons haven’t performed up to a winning standard.

While Van Gundy wears both hats as the team president and head coach — a combination becoming more of a rarity in the NBA — Gores said he still sees some value in having continuity between the front office and coaching staff.

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“I do, but we still have to make changes, but we’re not winning. It’s just that simple,” he said. “Whatever mistakes we’ve made or why we haven’t won, we have to evaluate that. I see value in the front office and the coach being connected.”

With the roster turnover in adding Blake Griffin around the midseason point and having to navigate around the injuries and juggle the roster, Gores is well aware of the foibles, but also reasons that the Pistons have had their troubles, including a 12-25 stretch when Jackson was injured.

The roster essentially is set for next season and there’s not much cap room to reconfigure the roster, even if they wanted to make changes. That doesn’t mean that Van Gundy necessarily will stay because he constructed the roster.

“I don’t look at it that way and I don’t think Stan does either,” Gores said. “What we did, we did. We did that together. There’s not a big move that Stan made without me. We’re together in that.”