US basketball

Pistons fire coach Monty Williams with nearly $65 million left on deal


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Pistons fire coach Monty Williams with nearly $65 million left on deal

SIDELINES. Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams looks on in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets during Game 5 of the 2023 NBA playoffs.

Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Just a year after signing a then-record contract, coach Monty Williams parts ways with the Detroit Pistons after an NBA-worst 14-68 record

The Detroit Pistons dismissed head coach Monty Williams after one season on Wednesday, June 19, owing him the remainder of the $76.5 million, six-year deal he signed a year ago.

“Decisions like these are difficult to make, and I want to thank Monty for his hard work and dedication,” team owner Tom Gores said in a team news release. 

“Coaching has many dynamic challenges that emerge during a season and Monty always handled those with grace. However, after reviewing our performance carefully and assessing our current position as an organization, we will chart a new course moving forward.”

Detroit finished the 2023-2024 season with an NBA-worst 14-68 record, a franchise low, that included a 28-game losing streak.

New president of basketball operations Trajan Langdon and the new coach will be asked to turn around a franchise that has spun its wheels over the past five years, not winning more than 23 games in a season in that span.

Beginning with the 2003-2004 season, the Pistons won the NBA championship, lost the NBA Finals, and then dropped three straight Eastern Conference finals. Since the 2008-2009 season, they have made only three playoff appearances, all first-round exits.

The Pistons have had nine head coaches since Larry Brown led them to the NBA title in 2004.

Gores said the search for the latest coach will begin immediately.

“We are unwavering in our commitment to bring a championship-caliber team to Detroit,” Gores said. “We will be diligent and swift in our search for a new head coach to lead our exciting young core of players and will continue our vision towards building a best-in-class front office that will help us achieve sustainable success.”

Williams, 52, was fired by the Phoenix Suns last May after four seasons, two years removed from an appearance in the NBA Finals.

Williams went 194-115 with the Suns and won Coach of the Year in 2021-2022. He led the Suns to the playoffs the final three seasons there, going 27-19 in the postseason.

Williams also was 173-221 in five seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans (2010-2015).

He was hired in Detroit, and given a then-record contract, with the expectation that he would turn around a team that won just 17 games in the 2022-2023 season.

The Pistons were led last season by 22-year-old Cade Cunningham, who averaged 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 7.5 assists in 62 games. They hold the No. 5 pick in next week’s NBA draft. –

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