When a coach gets hired, you can tell how committed the organization is by how many years they are willing to commit to. Like when mama says put your money where your mouth is. The length of the contract tells you what kind of marriage it is? In love? Or, arranged? Halfway in with a side chick is a bad sign. But full throttle marriage is the way to go.
The wretched Phoenix Suns front office gave first year head coach Igor Kokoskov three years which means after year two they can get out. It’s not an enthusiastic shout out to tell a coach of a very young team you have two years to fix this mess. A while back when the Celtics hired a college coach from Butler, Danny Ainge gave Brad Stevens a six year deal. It’s hard to find experienced coaches not named Gregg Popovich that have inked a deal that long. For flexibility reasons, and just in case a superstar coach finds himself wanting in, the rational move is to not tie a ball and chain to a coach.
And so that makes it a little bit peculiar that the Pistons, the same Pistons that have made the playoffs exactly once in nine years, gave Dwane Casey a five year deal which translates into four years of Casey-ball before he is lame duck the way Stan Van Gundy was lame duck and decided to walk.
Don’t get me wrong. Casey is a nice enough coach. He reached his greatest heights this year after he redesigned the Raptors offense but had no impact on heart as the Raptors did what everyone thought they would which leads me to wonder how are the Pistons going to be anything more than the Raptors Midwest?
The Pistons have a star in Blake Griffin but he isn’t a leader and you can’t trust him late. Blake Griffin needs a dynamic point, an orchestrator. Unfortunately for the hard hat Pistons, Reggie Jackson, when he is not hurt, just isn’t that dude. He’s a scoring point who thinks he is a star. Drummond is good defensively and on the block he dominates but his offense is mediocre. There are a bunch of spare parts with this Detroit bunch. With Casey, you better believe the defense is going to be awesome but the offense?
If it’s not iso, a Casey favorite, then it’s move the ball like the Raptors did this year upping their assist rankings only to flame out in the playoffs and demonstrate zero toughness when punched in the mouth. In Game 4, the Raptors flat out quit.
Dwane Casey never played in the league after his Kentucky career. I’m not going to rehash the scandal that had Casey blackballed because an envelope with cash implied a bribe. That’s old news. But because he never played professionally, Casey had to work very hard to be trusted and his career with the Wolves where he coached Kevin Garnett in his last Wolves years were depressing. He was an assistant when the Mavs stunned the Heat in 2011. LeBron James credits Casey with creating a defense that exposed all of LBJ’s weaknesses and forced him to get better and in a hurry.
But with his new team Pistons, Casey doesn’t have a scorer like DeMar DeRozan nor a Kyle Lowry chip on the shoulder I’m from Philly, deal with it, ego.
The Pistons can’t put the ball in the hole, 23rd in field goal percentage. They are good with the three ball but don’t get to the line, not enough creators on the team. They don’t have a rim protector. Drummond isn’t two blocks in the paint creating havoc at the rim. Stanley Johnson is a lottery pick fail; get him out.
With a five year deal Casey has more influence than Blake Griffin (three years), Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson (two years). The message is clear. Casey has more power than the players he is coaching. Because the Pistons don’t have a superstar, Casey is the most important person in the organization in front of the camera.
The compliment tossed Dwane Casey’s way once the hiring was announced was that he will bring stability to the Pistons. I guess that’s a good thing. But it’s stunning you haven’t heard a collection of voices say he will bring more wins, playoff success or excellence to Detroit.