SVG: ‘The people we hire will be great’
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Stan Van Gundy’s reputation makes it likely good people would have wanted to work at his side no matter what the circumstances of his hiring had been. But the unique consolidation of power Tom Gores offered Van Gundy sure hasn’t hurt the quality of candidate looking to join forces with him in Detroit.
“The people we hire will be great,” Van Gundy said, “and the people we decide not to hire will be great. The quality of people that want to come and work here in Detroit has been overwhelming.”
Van Gundy’s phone has been humming as he moves to fill out both his coaching and front-office staffs. He’d like to have a general manager in place with enough time to familiarize himself with the Pistons’ roster, needs and salary-cap situation before the gates to free agency open on July 1. And he’d prefer having his coaching staff nailed down before Summer League practices start in Orlando at about the same time.
But he’s not going to rush into any of those calls.
“The sooner the better, but those kinds of hires – major hires – are long term,” he said. “The process dictates itself. You go through the process and when you are ready to make an outstanding decision … if you have to go longer to get the person you want, then that’s what you have to do.”
Van Gundy has brought on a few assistant coaches who are already poring over last season’s game videotape. They’re ahead of him on that score. He spent about 15 hours in the office one day last week, intending to watch video himself, and only got through one game around all the phone calls made and returned on the job front.
From the feedback he’s getting since being hired two weeks ago, Van Gundy believes part of the attraction in coming to work with him and for the Pistons among the many contacts made over two decades in the NBA is a desire to work amid a system that lends itself to harmony between coach and front office.
It can’t hurt that the people he’ll hire will come to Detroit with confidence that they can sink some roots – the Pistons are fully invested in Van Gundy, as the reported $35 million contract over five years would attest – and not have to worry about being swept out in a year or two. But it goes beyond that, Van Gundy said.
“I think it really helps to be able to attract people – I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. It’s not just the security. I really think the people I run into in the NBA, whether it’s the front office side or in coaching, everybody wants to work in an atmosphere where everybody’s pulling in the same direction.
“It’s a hard job. You put in a lot of hours. But when you can be part of something bigger than yourself and everybody’s trying to get to the same goal, it’s an enjoyable working relationship. So I think what people are looking at is it’s going to be a great place to work. You’re not going to have those divisions and I think that’s what attracts them more than the security.”
Van Gundy passed on other opportunities to jump back into coaching after being part of Orlando’s housecleaning two years ago, looking for a spot he felt would offer the accord between coach and front office necessary to sustain success. He sat out last off-season, one that saw three 50-win coaches – Vinny Del Negro, Lionel Hollins and Coach of the Year George Karl – all get broomed.
“It goes to a disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff,” he said. “There’s something that’s not working when three guys who set franchise records for wins are out at the end of the year. It’s hard to be successful over the long term if you’re not unified and there’s not that synergy between coach and front office. That’s why Tom decided to get to this model, to really enhance the chances that there would be that kind of synergy.”