The Detroit Pistons have been a bad basketball team over the past few seasons, but in 2022-23, the team reached a new low. Detroit holds a 17-64 record. The team plays its final game of the season today against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. This marks the first time the Pistons won less than 20 games in a single season since the 1979-80 season when the team went 16-66. It is also only the second time in franchise history the team won less than 20 games.
The team simply is not good right now. This season, injuries to star point guard Cade Cunningham early in the season and key players like Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Stewart late in the season hurt the team’s ability to play competitive basketball.GM Troy Weaver has spent his tenure acquiring young assets, and the team has felt the growing pains of developing a roster full of guys under 25. Only time will tell whether the Pistons can turn a corner with their young team.
Injuries and inexperience hurt the Pistons this season. While the season as a whole was a disappointment to many, individual players did make significant strides in development. Jaden Ivey took possibly the biggest leap from the beginning of the season to its conclusion. Ivey struggled early on in the season but has seen his play improve dramatically late in the season.
Despite some individual improvements, this season was nothing short of abysmal for Detroit. The team secured the best odds to land the first overall pick in the draft lottery this offseason, and the team can fall no further than the fifth pick.
Dwane Casey’s future with the Detroit Pistons is uncertain
In sports, a poor season like the one the Pistons are enduring means someone is getting fired. Whether it is the head coach, the general manager or both, someone is typically out the door. Whether the brunt of the blame should fall on them or not, someone has to be the sacrificial lamb. At the conclusion of this season, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey could find himself as the team’s fall guy.
It is hard to imagine a world where a different coach significantly improves this team’s record. Casey joined the team coming off a Coach of the Year campaign with the Toronto Raptors, he led Detroit to the eighth seed in his first season at the helm, but the team fell off quickly after.
It is hard to blame Casey for the team being bad over the past few seasons when that is what it was designed to be. Weaver and the front office undertook a complete teardown of the roster. The team tanked to land Cunningham in Weaver’s first season as GM, and winning was not a priority last season either. This season there were expectations to be more competitive, but it is easy to understand why that did not work out when Cunningham missed the majority of the season with a shin injury.
That is not to say Casey is completely blameless for how the team has performed. He is not an elite coach, and the team can certainly find an upgrade elsewhere. However, anyone who wants to place all the blame on Casey for this team’s struggles is not paying attention.
If Casey is out the door the Detroit Pistons need to avoid the NBA’s habit of recycling failed coaches
Rumors have sprouted about Casey’s future with the team coming into question. He addressed the elephant in the room himself during media availability after the team’s April 5 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. He said he would discuss his future again at the conclusion of the season.
Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported that team staffers are preparing for Casey’s exit from the Pistons’ head coaching position. Fischer adds in his report that Casey could enter a front office role. something that has long been speculated by The Athletic‘s James Edwards III.
The NBA has a strange habit of recycling through the same 40 or so head coaches. Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan and Steve Clifford are among those who the NBA continues to hire into head coaching positions despite continually burning out in their previous spots. If Casey is out as Pistons’ head coach, Weaver needs to avoid this habit.
That is not to say the Pistons need to avoid anyone with prior head coaching experience. The team simply needs to avoid the coaches who continually find themselves cycling through team after team every few seasons.
What coaches are on the Detroit Pistons’ radar?
According to Fischer’s report, Charles Lee of the Milwaukee Bucks and Adrian Griffin of the Toronto Raptors are two assistant coaches the Pistons could have serious interest in this offseason. Griffin spent time as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder when Weaver was part of the front office there. Lee is considered one of the top coaching candidates in the league heading into this offseason.
Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups could be another candidate to replace Casey. The former Piston was reportedly on the team’s radar before they hired Casey back in 2018. The Trail Blazers are struggling through a 33-47 season. Portland’s players have continued to endorse Billups, but the team’s struggles during his tenure could lead to an inevitable exit this offseason. If he becomes available, it is easy to envision the team bringing him in for an interview at the very least.
The big fish this offseason could be Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse. He led Toronto to its first and only championship in 2019 and is regarded as one of the best coaches in the NBA. Nurse recently spoke on his future with the Raptors, and said he was going “to see where I’m at … where my head’s at. And just see how the relationship with the organization is.”
If Nurse and Toronto parted ways, he would instantly be the top candidate on the market. If he is available and shows even remote interest in joining the Pistons, Weaver and the front office should not hesitate to pull the trigger on offering him a contract.
Troy Weaver can go get his guy
Weaver inherited Casey from a previous regime. He was content to move forward with Casey early in his time with the team, even extending the former Coach of the Year. However, with Casey’s exit appearing more likely, Weaver has a chance to bring in his guy.
That guy could be one of the two assistants Fischer noted in his report. The guy could be a former head coach freshly on the market like Billups or Nurse could potentially be. It could also be someone not on everyone else’s radar. For Weaver’s sake, his guy should not be a head coach who the NBA recycles to a new team every few seasons.
The Pistons want to start competing next season. They want to push for a play-in spot. The team wants to be disruptive. If Casey is out the door, whoever Weaver hires will inherit a young roster with two potential stars, a top-five pick and plenty of cap space. Despite their recent struggles, the Detroit Pistons are an intriguing destination for prospective head coaches.
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