DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons made a bold move in their latest attempt to become relevant in the NBA again.
Detroit reached an agreement to hire former Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams, according to two people familiar with the situation.
One of the people, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced, told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that Williams agreed to a six-year contract.
Phoenix fired Williams two-plus weeks ago, two years after reaching the NBA Finals and a year after he won the league’s coach of the year honors.
The 51-year-old Williams won 63% of his games over four regular seasons with the Suns, but they were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals two years in a row after losing to Milwaukee in the 2021 NBA Finals.
The Pistons would be thrilled to approach that level of success anytime soon under Williams.
Detroit won an NBA-low 17 games last season, losing 30% or fewer games for the fourth straight season under Dwane Casey, who stepped down as coach with one year left on his contract to take a role in the front office.
The Pistons did not have good fortune in the draft lottery, landing the No. 5 pick overall for the second straight year and missing out on an opportunity to draft 7-foot-3 French pro Victor Wembanyama, a 19-year-old supertalent expected to be the first overall pick of the San Antonio Spurs.
Detroit, a three-time NBA championship franchise, has earned a spot in the playoffs just twice in 14 years. The Pistons have not won a postseason game since 2008, when they advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the sixth straight time during a remarkable run that included winning the 2004 NBA title and falling a game short of repeating as champions.
Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, the No. 5 and No. 13 pick overall last summer, did provide hope for the future with their play last season. Cade Cunningam, the No. 1 pick overall in 2021, had his second season stunted by shin surgery after playing in just 12 games.
Bojan Bogdanovic, who averaged a career-high 21.6 points, Isaiah Stewart, James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley are expected to be back.
The young team, with some experienced players in the rotation, will have a proven leader on the bench.
Williams is 367-336 in nine seasons as an NBA head coach with a 29-27 postseason record. He had a five-year stint with the New Orleans Pelicans, who fired him in 2015 with a 173-221 record and two playoff appearances.
While Williams was an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016, his wife, Ingrid, died from injuries sustained from a car crash in which she was hit head-on by an SUV that crossed the center line after losing control.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Denver contributed to this report.
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