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Pistons dismiss coach Monty Williams after 1 season

The Pistons are moving on from coach Monty Williams, who went 14-68 in his lone season with Detroit.

Monty Williams has 10 seasons of experience as a coach in the NBA.

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The Detroit Pistons dismissed coach Monty Williams on Wednesday after one season with the franchise.

“Decisions like these are difficult to make, and I want to thank Monty for his hard work and dedication,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores in a statement. “Coaching has many dynamic challenges that emerge during a season and Monty always handled those with grace. However, after reviewing our performance carefully and assessing our current position as an organization, we will chart a new course moving forward.”

Williams went 14-68 with Detroit in 2023-24, the worst record in the NBA and Detroit’s second straight season with less than 20 wins. He has a reported five years and over $65 million left on his contract.

Williams was hired on June 2 of last year after then-coach Dwane Casey stepped down with one year left on his contract to take a role in the front office. Casey went 17-65 in 2022-23 but was 41-41 in his first season with Detroit (2018-19) and led the team to the playoffs. The Pistons have not won more than 23 games in any season since that postseason appearance.

Detroit, a three-time NBA championship franchise, has earned a spot in the playoffs just twice in 14 years. The Pistons have not won a postseason game since 2008 when they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth straight time during a remarkable run that included winning the 2004 NBA title and falling a game short of repeating as champions.

The firing continues a wildly strange run for Williams. In 2021, as coach of the Suns, he went to the NBA Finals, where Phoenix led 2-0 before falling in six games to Milwaukee. In 2022, he was the NBA’s Coach of the Year in runaway voting. In 2023, the Suns fired him and now, in 2024, the Pistons have done the same.

What’s next for Pistons: Detroit is in the midst of another franchise overhaul, particularly in the front office. It parted ways with GM Troy Weaver (who played a role in Williams’ hiring) and hired Trajan Langdon as the team’s new president of basketball operations. Langdon was hired by the New Orleans Pelicans as their GM in 2019 and the team improved in each of the past five seasons, winning 49 games last season — the second-highest single-season win total in team history.

The Pistons have the No. 5 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, the third straight year they’ve held that position. They started last season 2-1 … and then didn’t win another game for the next two months.

A 28-game losing streak, the longest ever in a single season in NBA history and tied for the longest ever when factoring in multiple seasons, turned the season into a debacle. The Pistons’ longest winning streak was two games (done on three occasions) and the roster was constantly in flux. Detroit used 31 different players throughout the season, had 36 different starting lineups and lost 39 times by double digits.

Overall, Detroit hopes to build around Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Ivey — all of whom are 23 and younger — to restore pride in a franchise that has won three NBA titles.

Per’s John Schuhmann, the Stewart-Duren duo worked last season on defense and Thompson (his 2.89 steals + blocks per 36 minutes rank 26th among 256 players who’ve played at least 1,000 minutes) can potentially be a real force on that end of the floor.

Detroit will have plenty of cap space to use in free agency, and Cunningham is eligible for a contract extension as well. Aside from Stewart (who signed a four-year extension last summer), the rest of the Pistons’ core are on deals that have team options attached to them. Simone Fontecchio, whom the team added in February, is a restricted free agent this summer and was a solid contributor for Detroit last season.

Other than Fontecchio, the rest of Detroit’s free agents are seasoned veterans (Taj Gibson, Evan Fournier) or young, rotation-type players such as James Wiseman, Malachi Flynn and Chimezie Metu.

The vacancy in Detroit is the third active one in the NBA, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers still seeking coaches as well.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.