Former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has agreed to a five-year contract to become the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Casey, who was fired by Toronto in May after the best regular season in franchise history, was highly-coveted by the Pistons as the front office’s primary target. Wojnarowski reports that owner Tom Gores and senior adviser Ed Stefanski were able to sell Casey on Detroit with an aggressive long-term commitment, and the aspect that the three of them together could make the Pistons a playoff team for years to come in the Eastern Conference.
Under Stan Van Gundy’s lead last season, the Pistons failed to qualify for the playoffs for the second consecutive season despite trading for All-Star forward Blake Griffin in January. Casey told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that he’s committed to building the team around Griffin, and that the top priority has to be keeping him healthy.
Many thought that the 61-year-old Casey would take the 2018-2019 season off after being fired by Toronto give himself time to regroup, and from what Casey has said that was under consideration. But the pitch by Gores and Stefanski was so strong that Casey also told Smith that he can’t wait to get started:
“They have a good team, they have a good roster and a very dynamic owner in Tom Gores, who is doing a lot of things for the city of Detroit,” Casey said. “It’s a little bit more than just coaching basketball … that appealed to me also and to my family. Doing a lot of stuff in the community, rebuilding downtown, helping out Flint in their water situation — so just a lot more things involved, more than just basketball.”
In-addition to having Griffin locked up long-term, center Andre Drummond is also under contract beyond the 2020 season at an average annual salary of $25.4 million. Point guard Reggie Jackson is signed through the 2019-2020 season at an average annual salary at $16 million, making these three players responsible for over 50% of Detroit’s payroll next season.
Spotrac estimates that as this stand right now, the Pistons won’t have any cap space in free agency, and they would have to pay the luxury tax, so it’s likely that some trades are made to ease the financial burden.
Detroit is also facing a tough decision when it comes to Stanley Johnson‘s contract situation. Johnson will be eligible for a rookie extension this summer, and the Pistons will have to the first game of the 2018-2019 season to agree to a new pact. If they don’t, which seems like the more likely option, Johnson will become a restricted free agent next off-season if the Pistons choose to extend the qualifying offer to him. If not, Johnson would then be unrestricted, free to sign with any NBA team.
Here’s what Gores had to say about Casey in an official statement released by the Pistons on Monday:
“Dwane is one of the most successful and highly respected coaches in our league,” said Gores. “He’s a great communicator and a leader who will connect with our players and accelerate their growth. Having spent many hours with Dwane over the last few weeks, I’m confident he is the right person to get us to the next level.”
In 680 regular season games as a NBA head coach, Casey has a 373-307 win-loss record, and a .549 win percentage. In 51 career playoff games, Casey is 21-30, which is good for a win percentage of .412.
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