The 2018 NBA Draft is just over a week away and the Detroit Pistons were in fear of not having a head coach, after letting go of Stan Van Gundy last month. Dwane Casey, who was fired by the Toronto Raptors last month as well, agreed to a 5-year deal with Detroit, reportedly worth $7 million.
Casey will be formally introduced at a news conference in Detroit next week and is expected to start immediately with player meetings and staff development starting this week.
“I am excited and honored to join the Detroit Pistons, a franchise with a championship history and a roster that is ready to win now,” Casey said in a statement. “Tom (Gores) really won me over with his vision for the team and the city. He clearly wants to deliver for the fans in Detroit and I believe in the strength of his leadership to do so.”
Casey, 61, has served as a head coach, associate head coach or assistant coach in the NBA for 23 of the past 24 years. He has coached in two NBA Finals (1996 and 2011) and three NBA All-Star games (1996, 1998 and 2018). In seven seasons with the Raptors, Casey compiled a 320-238 (.573) regular-season record and led the Raptors to a franchise-record five consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. He is also the presumptive NBA coach of the year, after leading the Raptors to a franchise-record 59-win season, and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“Dwane is one of the most successful and highly respected coaches in our league,” said Pistons owner Tom 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 our meetings, he displayed great insight into what this roster can accomplish, and great passion about our city and the team’s role in bringing people together. He’s an outstanding man with impressive character. He embodies our culture and will be a great representative for our franchise.”
After a second consecutive series sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Casey was fired by the Raptors. But he was Detroit’s primary target this off-season, after interviewing several candidates including Michigan’s John Beilein, TNT analyst Kenny Smith, Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard, and San Antonio Spurs assistant Ime Udoka.
Gores and senior adviser Ed Stefanski have been working to reshape the team and transform them into a perennial playoff team in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons traded for Blake Griffin in February and are committed to building the roster around all-star forward, who teamed up well with fellow all-star Andre Drummond at times last season. Pair them with a healthy Reggie Jackson and the two-year playoff drought for Detroit might end in 2019.
“I’m confident that this team has the pieces in place to compete at a very high level,” Casey added. “There is a lot of talent, a solid core and some exciting young players eager to get better. We’re getting to work right away on the things that will make us all successful.”