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Detroit Pistons part ways with coach Stan Van Gundy

The Stan Van Gundy era with the Detroit Pistons is over.

Van Gundy served as Pistons coach and team president since being hired in 2014, but has was relieved of both roles by the team today. News of the move was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Team owner Tom Gores said parting with Van Gundy was a difficult decision.

“I am grateful to Stan for everything he’s done for the Pistons and for the city of Detroit,” Gores said in a statement released by the team. “He rebuilt the culture of our basketball team, re-instilled a winning attitude and work ethic, and took us to the playoffs two years ago. He went all-in from Day One to positively impact this franchise and this community.

“But over the past two seasons our team has not progressed, and we decided that a change is necessary to regain our momentum,” Gores said.

The Pistons went 39-43 this season, missing the playoffs for the third time in four years under Van Gundy. Gores said in a statement released by the team that Van Gundy wanted to return for the 2018-19 season, which would have been the last on his contract.

Per Wojnarowski, the move took place earlier today and will start the revamping of the Pistons’ front office:

One candidate expected to be strongly considered for a role in a revamped Pistons front office is Brent Barry, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Warriors attempted to hire Barry in a scouting position last summer but ran into complications because of his ongoing TV commitments, league sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. The two sides even discussed a potential part-time arrangement that would have allowed Barry to fulfill his TNT duties, with the understanding he would come to Golden State full time upon the expiration of his TV contract, but the talks fell through, sources told Lowe.

Via Twitter, Wojnarowski reports that the Pistons’ brass are expected to pursue an experience front-office type for the President of Basketball Operations role:

It is unlikely that a potential Detroit-Barry partnership would be for the role of President of Basketball Operations, league sources tell ESPN. Tom Gores and Arn Tellem are expected to pursue an experienced front office executive to run basketball operations.

Recent reports indicated that the Pistons wanted Van Gundy back, but perhaps in a different front-office role. Per Wojnarowski, Van Gundy and Gores met in early May and the owner, at that point, was reportedly willing to keep Van Gundy around. But, even then, Gores was looking to make changes to the Pistons’ operating structure.

Van Gundy went 152-176 over four years as Detroit’s head coach with only one playoff appearance — a 4-0 first-round loss to Cleveland — to show for it.

A decade ago, the Pistons were one of the game’s most respected organizations after reaching the Eastern Conference finals six straight years and winning the NBA title in 2004. They sank quickly into irrelevance after that. Detroit missed the playoffs the final five seasons of Joe Dumars’ tenure as team president, and Gores — who took over as owner in 2011 — eventually brought Van Gundy in, giving him authority in the front office in addition to his coaching duties.

With center Andre Drummond leading the way, Detroit started 19-14 in 2017-18 and won on the road against the likes of Golden State, Oklahoma City and Boston. Then an ankle injury to point guard Reggie Jackson derailed the season, and not even the trade for Griffin in late January was enough to push the Pistons to the playoffs in their first season at downtown Detroit’s new Little Caesars Arena.

Van Gundy engineered the February trade with the LA Clippers for former All-Star forward Blake Griffin. Although Detroit got off to a hot start with Griffin, the Pistons stumbled down the stretch and missed the playoffs for the second straight season and third time in four seasons.

Detroit went 8-4 when Jackson and Griffin played together. Additionally, the Pistons were 27-18 with Jackson, who suffered a severe ankle injury in late December and did not return until late March.

Van Gundy was scrutinized by some Pistons fans for his recent work in the NBA Draft, which includes selecting Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker in 2015 and Luke Kennard instead of Donovan Mitchell in 2017. This past season, Kennard shot over 40 percent from 3-point range, but he was taken one spot ahead of Donovan Mitchell in last year’s draft. Mitchell blossomed into a Rookie of the Year candidate.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.