Pistons fire Monty Williams one year after signing coach to 6-year, $78.5M deal: Sources

Monty Williams is leaving as head coach of the Detroit Pistons, team sources said The athlete. Pistons owner Tom Gores made the call to move on from Williams within the last 24 hours, according to team sources.

Williams signed one of the largest contracts in NBA history last June and has about $60 million remaining on the six-year contract. The Pistons’ decision to part ways with Williams comes after a season in which Detroit finished with a team-worst 14 wins and endured a historic 28-game losing streak that began four games into the season and did not end until Dec. 30.

The Pistons’ poor 2023-24 campaign was another fall into the abyss during the rebuilding process that began in 2020 and made no headway in the win-loss column. Owner Tom Gores told reporters in December that change was coming, and while the organization made several trades before the deadline and added several new players midway through the season, Trajan Langdon’s recent hiring as Detroit’s new president of basketball operations was the kind of change many fans expected. Sooner.

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While interviewing during the hiring process for the role Langdon got, Gores told candidates they would be free to fire and hire whoever they wanted, with money no barrier, according to team and league sources.

To keep his job next season, Williams had to be evaluated and, essentially, interviewed by Langdon. Williams was expected to present a comprehensive plan on how the Pistons can improve on the court, according to team and league sources. Not only will Williams have to convince the new president of his way forward, but these two will have to convince Gores. Additionally, those involved in the decision to keep or move on from Williams wanted to know for sure whether he was truly committed to coaching a team in a rebuilding state. Team sources said the organization was looking for complete synergy from top to bottom this offseason.

Williams was hired with hopes of helping a young Detroit team take steps in the right direction after winning just 17 games in the 2022-23 season. After becoming frustrated with the candidates presented to him during the recruiting process last April and May, Gores pulled out the red carpet and successfully landed Williams — who had recently been fired by the Phoenix Suns and whose wife was in the midst of a battle with cancer — with an offer he could refuse.

Gores’ offer consisted of a contract that could reach $100 million with incentives and came with additional health benefits and the possibility of use of a private jet for Williams, who initially turned down the job, and for his family to use while his wife was in the middle of it. battle. Here’s what Williams said about why he took the job in his introductory press conference:

“The quick answer is (Weaver), the players and the money. And that’s something people don’t talk about. They say it wasn’t the money. I laugh at that. I think it’s disrespectful. … When someone is that generous to pay me that kind of money, first of all, He should be applauded, and secondly, he should be talked about…I love the process of building, I love seeing players improve, I love seeing a guy for the first time who understands what it takes to navigate tough situations, and there are only 30 of them “Method.”

On the weekend before Christmas, with the Pistons in the midst of their historic losing streak and just two wins on the season, Gores spoke to select reporters, including The athletevia video call and admitted that he was more involved in the day-to-day aspect than in the past due to the chaos his team found itself in and no clear answer in sight.


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“I go to Monty and talk about rotation. I don’t usually do that,” said Gores. “Monty is very good and knows what he is doing, and he is even open to talking about it. We have to change something. I can’t tell you exactly what it is. We’re diving hard. We might be two weeks ahead of you. Our disappointment catches up with us too. We expected a lot.

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“We have to be realistic and realize that there were things that were not working with the composition of the team. Sure, we should have won a few more games, but how many of those games are those? Three or four? Who knows what that number is. We were not set up the way we should have been.” We’re being set up…I expect change. I don’t think any narrative here should suggest there’s no change coming. I’m just saying that as far as Monty and Troy are concerned, all of these things…will be in place, but I’m getting over it They’ll tell you that too. There’s a lot of accountability to be done. There may be additions to the staff and all that stuff. What’s certain is that we’re not right now. We’re going to “We’re making changes. We don’t know exactly what they’ll be yet.”

Although Williams didn’t have the best team to work with (and injuries early in the season didn’t make things any better), he, along with everyone involved, played a role in Detroit’s epic loss. 2020 No. 7 overall pick Killian Hayes started the bulk of the team’s first 30 games. The Pistons were open to trading or moving on from Hayes last summer, according to team and league sources. By all accounts, Hayes was one of the least efficient scorers not only currently in the NBA, but in the history of the game. However, Hayes’ 6-foot-5 frame, ball movement and sometimes passable defense piqued Williams’ interest from afar, and the coach wanted a chance to try to revive the lottery pick’s career. Hayes has been out of the NBA since being waived by Detroit on February 8.


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Furthermore, Williams’ trust in Hayes came at the expense of Jaden Ivey, the No. 5 pick in 2023 who earned All-Rookie honors in his first year. After starting all of his inaugural season, Ivey began his second season as a backup.

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Ivey wasn’t perfect the previous season. He needed to improve defensively and as a decision maker. Some habits had to be broken, but Williams prioritized Hayes’ in-game development, which the organization was willing to give up on a top-five pick from the previous year. Ivey coming off the bench wasn’t the problem. Ivey coming off the bench and playing fewer minutes than Hayes in the first two months of the season is where the questions start to swirl.

Detroit held an organizational meeting midway through the season, and the only thing the staff pointed out to Williams was that Ivey as the starting catcher didn’t have much going on.

“I have to eat it,” Williams said. “I wish I had done it earlier.”

Williams has committed to playing in bench formations for most of the season, despite a roster that probably shouldn’t be more than seven or eight players. There was very little of franchise mainstays Cade Cunningham and Ivey throughout much of the season when the latter, finally, became the starter in December. According to NBA.com, from October 25 through December 25, Detroit’s bench played the 13th most minutes in the NBA despite having the worst plus-minus in the league. Additionally, the Pistons’ bench has the worst net rating in the league of any bench. However, Williams continued to field heavy reserve formations.

Detroit’s complete failure of one season can’t be blamed on any one person. Losing this volume trickles down the entire organization. However, the owner was not going to fire himself, and the Pistons were unable to bring back all of their key decision-makers from the worst season in franchise history.

Through Goris, Langdon was given free rein to dispose of the organization as he saw fit, and decided to clean house.

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(Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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