Over Like A Fat Rat: Pistons Cut Ties With Monty Williams And Still Owe Him $68M

The Detroit Pistons are turning the page on the Monty Williams era just one season into his onetime NBA-record six-year, $78.5 million contract. Following a 14-68 season that also saw an NBA single season record 28-game losing streak, the Pistons are looking for a fresh start. The 68 losses are the most in Pistons franchise history, and team owner Tom Gores is reportedly the one who made the call to move on from Williams despite the massive money he’s still owed. 

In a statement, Gores thanked Williams but also expressed the desire to move forward with a new voice stalking the sidelines. 

“Decisions like these are difficult to make, and I want to thank Monty for his hardwork  and dedication. 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.”

While the move was surprising, it was actually the right move. Williams never had the pulse of the young Pistons team.

Williams Stubbornness Weighed Heavily

Williams tenure as coach of the Pistons got off to a rocky start when he decided to bring 2022 No. 5 overall pick Jaden Ivey off the bench. This after Ivey started 73 games as a rookie. Williams instead elected to start Killian Hayes, who was drafted seventh overall in 2020. That move didn’t sit well at all with the Pistons fan base, who soured on Hayes after his first three underachieving seasons. Meanwhile, Ivey was named NBA All-Rookie Second Team, and showed flashes of why he was so highly regarded leading up to the 2022 NBA draft. 

That move was just one of many questionable ones made by Williams in his lone season at the helm in Motown. There were also many postgame pressers where Williams, who’s supposed to be the leader, looked absolutely bewildered, especially during the team’s 28-game losing streak. Williams’ rotations came into question, and despite being a fairly young coach (52), there was an obvious disconnect between him and his players. 

What’s Next For The Pistons?

Late last month the team hired former New Orleans Pelicans executive Trajan Langdon as their new president of basketball operations. The move seemed to trigger the resignation of then general manager Troy Weaver who stepped down on June 1. Weaver hired Williams in a move that shocked everyone around the league. Langdon’s first order of business will be to find a coach that fits the talented but extremely young Pistons. 

Barring any major changes to their core unit of the aforementioned Cunningham and Ivey along with Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson and center James Wiseman, the Pistons will enter the 2024-25 season as the sixth-youngest team in the league. That means they’ll need a coach who can build rapport, inspire players and build their confidence while being a great communicator. He’ll also have to be willing to let the team make mistakes and learn from those same mistakes. 

Candidates To Replace Williams

The top choice has to be former Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego, who has a solid relationship with the aforementioned Langdon from their time together with the Pelicans. Celtics assistant Sam Cassell just helped bring the franchise its NBA record 18th championship, and at some point he’s gonna get a shot. Cassell could be the hidden gem that the Pistons need. 

Others who may get a look are David Adelman, Chris Quinn and Kenny Atkinson. No matter who’s hired, this will be Langdon’s first big hire and move, and for the sake of the young Pistons he must get this right. 

Pistons Will Look To Add Playmaking Wing In 2024 Draft

In most mock drafts the Pistons are slated to select forward Matas Buzelis (G League Ignite). The 6-foot-9 do-it-all wing possesses the size and shot-making ability that the Pistons offense currently lacks. 

He’s been compared to former NBA star Lamar Odom. 

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