Detroit Pistons Coaching Dreams: Jeff Van Gundy

Essentials

Age: 49

Current Job: NBA Analyst, ESPN

Previous experience:

  • Head coach, Houston Rockets (2003-07)
  • Head Coach, New York Knicks (1995-2001
  • Assistant Coach, New York Knicks (1989-1995)

Pros

Defense. Van Gundy’s teams were consistently good defensive units, even if things weren’t always so pretty offensively. He believes in defense, he was on the Pat Riley staff that reinvented tough defense in the 1990s and his philosophy would quickly make him popular among Pistons fans if he had any success whatsoever in reinstalling that ethic as a Pistons head coach. Also, he’s one heck of a scrapper. Van Gundy has had a losing record just once in his 11 seasons as a coach.

Van Gundy has also worked with two franchise big men in Patrick Ewing and Yao Ming, so hopefully he’d be a big help to Greg Monroe‘s development.

Cons

Aside from the fact that he occasionally says outrageous things, Van Gundy would be expensive. He seems comfortable doing analyst work, so it would probably take an offer that is both intriguing on the court and financially rewarding to get him to leave his gig at ESPN. It’s unclear how well he’d work with the Pistons roster given his defensive approach and the Pistons lack of … well … players who play defense.

Also, there have been rumors that he’s not the easiest coach to work with. That’s not surprising to those who regularly listen to him as a broadcaster. He tends to suffer from a bit of know-it-all-ism on occasion,

Verdict

Van Gundy is a proven, good NBA coach. As a broadcaster, despite some annoyances (like in the second quarter of Sunday night’s Mavs-Heat game, when he couldn’t understand why Udonis Haslem got a technical despite Haslem clearly walking towards the Mavericks to taunt them when his bench was in the other direction), he’s also had moments where he brings up excellent points. In a Lakers game a couple years ago, he said (paraphrasing), "make sure you know where Kobe Bryant is on free throws, he’s one of the best free throw rebounders in the league." Then, after the next FT missed, sure enough, Bryant slipped between two players and grabbed an offensive rebound.

Van Gundy knows the game, but I can’t imagine the Pistons hiring someone with his strong personality and sense of how to do things or his price tag at this point.

Previously

Tags: Greg Monroe

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