Pistons targeting Stan Van Gundy as coach, leader of basketball operations

Doug Pensinger

Van Gundy appears ready to assume control of basketball decisions in Detroit.

Stan Van Gundy has sat out the last two seasons after being fired by the Orlando Magic in May of 2012, but the 54-year-old coach might not be out of a job for much longer. The Detroit Pistons are targeting Van Gundy to take control of basketball operations and become the franchise's next head coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

If hired, Van Gundy may elect to bring in his former GM in Orlando, Otis Smith to work under him, according to Wojnarowski.

The Pistons fired coach Maurice Cheeks in February after the team started 21-29. Expectations were high in Detroit following an offseason that saw the Pistons sign forward Josh Smith to a lucrative free agent contract and trade for point guard Brandon Jennings. The Pistons were never able to find their footing, though, and stumbled to a 29-53 record overall. Detroit ranked No. 19 in the league in offensive efficiency and No. 26 in defensive efficiency, per NBA.com.

The onset of this offseason brought even more changes in Detroit when it was announced Joe Dumars was out as team president. Dumars struggled in the draft and in free agency in recent years and never found a coach he liked after Flip Saunders departed following the 2008 season. The Pistons have gone through five different coaches in the last six seasons, which includes interim coach John Loyer, who guided the team to an 8-24 record after Cheeks' dismissal this past season.

Van Gundy would offer a new face for a Pistons organization in desperate need of leadership. Van Gundy, who has a 371-208 overall record with the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, has been to the playoffs in every full season as a head coach. He won over 50 games his first four seasons in Orlando, which included a trip to the NBA Finals in 2009.

The end of Van Gundy's tenure in Orlando was not without drama. The coach publicly fought with star center Dwight Howard, at one point alleging that Howard wanted him fired. Howard and Van Gundy each left the franchise after the 2011-12 season, and Orlando has compiled a 43-121 record without them the last two seasons.

Van Gundy reportedly told the Golden State Warriors he wanted control of basketball decisions in addition to being the head coach, and the team declined. It appears he could be in line to get just that in Detroit.

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