The Detroit Pistons have reached an agreement in principle with Stan Van Gundy to make him their new coach and president of basketball operations, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday night that Van Gundy and the Pistons have verbally agreed to a five-year pact worth an estimated $35 million, with an official announcement expected as early as Wednesday.
Despite strong interest from the Golden State Warriors, who sources say had established Van Gundy as their top target to succeed the ousted Mark Jackson, Detroit managed to trump Van Gundy’s hometown team with the offer of personnel control on top of coaching duties.
Sources indicated earlier Tuesday that the Warriors were resigned to Van Gundy accepting Detroit’s substantial offer, which, according to Yahoo! Sports, prompted Golden State officials to immediately head to Oklahoma City to make one last attempt to convince Steve Kerr to walk away from his expected deal to coach the New York Knicks.
But sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday night that, despite the Warriors’ last-ditch press, negotiations between Kerr and the Knicks have been in “the final stages” for more than a week, with one source close to the talks saying he’d be “shocked” if the TNT broadcaster didn’t wind up as the first coach hired by new Knicks president Phil Jackson.
The Pistons have been looking for their own new face of basketball operations for the first time in more than a decade after Detroit legend Joe Dumars left his post in April. After also firing first-year coach Maurice Cheeks just 50 games into the season, Pistons owner Tom Gores settled on Van Gundy and elected to give him final say over basketball decisions — despite Van Gundy’s lack of front-office experience — to trump the lure of going back to his native Northern California to coach the Warriors, who won 51 games during the regular season and sport a more attractive overall roster headlined by established superstar Stephen Curry.
Van Gundy instead will take over a team that boasted some of the worst chemistry in the league this past season but features top young big man Andre Drummond as a player to build around. The fate of Pistons interim coach John Loyer was not immediately known, but Loyer is under contract with Detroit for one more season.
With Van Gundy bound for Detroit and Kerr still widely expected to land in New York, Golden State is at risk of missing out on its top two candidates to replace Mark Jackson. ESPN.com reported shortly after Golden State’s first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that Kerr and Van Gundy were the Warriors’ two preferred targets.
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