The Detroit Pistons get a much-needed engine transplant by selecting Dwane Casey to put their beleaguered franchise in gear. Casey, who agreed to a five-year Deal with the Pistons, is known for being a players’ coach, and has a proven track record of success. 

“I am excited and honored to join the Detroit Pistons, a franchise with a championship history and a roster that is ready to win now,” Casey said in the team release.  “I’m confident that this team has the pieces in place to compete at a very high level. There is a lot of talent, a solid core and some exciting young players eager to get better. We’re getting to work right away on the things that will make us all successful.” 

Casey spent the last seven seasons as the Toronto Raptors’ head coach, building a conference powerhouse. He lifted the club to new heights even Chris Bosh, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady (all Hall of Fame talent) couldn’t reach. Casey led the Raptors to a record 320-238. This past season, he guided Toronto to a franchise-record 59 wins and the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed. 

But despite making five, straight trips to the postseason, the last three years have been rough for the Raptors. They went 22-60 in his first season as head coach, then progressed each year following. Additionally, Casey helped develop the skills of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, as both players are now All Stars.  Even so, Toronto lost in the first round twice and second round twice while making a single trip to the Eastern Conference Finals (2016). In each of the last three seasons, the Raptors’ title hopes were dashed by LeBron James. 

Things have been bleak recently on the Detroit side of the house too, even with NBA legend Stan Van Gundy at the helm. Coaching in Miami and Orlando, Van Gundy posted a 523-384 career record. Van Gundy, the man who helped engineer the Blake Griffin trade in January, appeared to be on his way back to the playoffs. Then, the dreaded Injury Bug struck the Pistons, leaving them to play without starting point guard Reggie Jackson and power forward Griffin for much of the final stretch of a 39-43 season. The Pistons missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season after coming in as an eighth seed and losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round of the 2015-16 Eastern Conference tournament. 

The Pistons appeared poised to restore past glory as they rose, but only went 152-176 with one playoff appearance over four years. Many around the NBA will tell you what a smart, effective basketball coach Van Gundy is and his career resume proves it. The man has 523 NBA wins with more than a 57 percent win rate. But unless you’re one of the great coaches, a singular coaching style doesn’t mix well with every team. Now, with Van Gundy being fired, there’s a new sheriff in town.  

The Pistons need a coach who can develop young talent like Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson. If they emerge, the outlook for Detroit changes considerably since they already have All-Stars in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Casey has a better chance for early success with his tool cabinet in Detroit. Motor City, start your engines!  

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