June 26, 2023 | Articles The Pistons
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores’ financial commitment cited as one reason for Monty Williams accepting head coaching position
Monty Williams got to the contract before anyone brought it up. Asked why he’d want to start over,
essentially, when teams with immediate championship potential, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, made
overtures to him, Williams plowed straight ahead.
“The quick answer is Troy (Weaver), the players and the money,” Williams said. “That’s something
people don’t talk about. They say it wasn’t the money. I always laugh at that. I say it’s disrespectful
when somebody is that generous to me, that kind of money, that should be applauded and should be
So the money – reported to make Williams the NBA’s best-compensated coach – got his attention. But it
was Tom Gores’ refusal to take no for an answer and Weaver, the general manager who came to
develop a mutually respectful relationship with Williams when they were together in Oklahoma City,
and the job he’s done in stocking the roster with talented players who universally and unfailingly put
team success first that were the closers for a coach who could have taken a gap year and lived
comfortably off the three years left on his Phoenix deal.
The night at Gores’ Los Angeles-area home – one that Williams said ended with his commitment to
succeed Dwane Casey as Pistons coach – was spent with Gores making Williams feel wanted and Weaver selling him on the quality of character of the young players he’s drafted or otherwise acquired.
“Troy talked about how he would put that locker room up against any locker room in the league,”
Williams said. “He said that right from the jump. I was talking to my mentor, Pastor Bil (Gebhardt),” who
told him, “You think you’re going to be what they need. I think this is what you need.”
“After looking at the roster and doing background work on everybody – because he’s just that dude – he
said, ‘These guys are going to be good for you.’ I’m looking forward to how they’re going to impact me in
a good way.”
It won’t take long for him to find out. Practically the entire roster attended the Williams introductory
press conference at the Henry Ford-Detroit Pistons Performance Center at a time of year when most
NBA players are spread across the country at their homes or training headquarters.
“I talked to them and they all looked me in the eye, which is impressive. I text and they get right back to
me, which is rare in the NBA,” Williams said. “You see it today. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a press
conference and they all show up. The hunger, the desire – they all want it. It gets to you.”
Williams takes over a 17-win team four years after he took over a 19-win Phoenix team that two years
later won 51 games and advanced to the NBA Finals. The reason Gores and Weaver pursued Williams so doggedly is there’s a faith throughout the organization that the Pistons are ready to make a similar leap forward.
“It was critical and it’s a really important time,” Gores said of reeling in Williams. “What I kept thinking
and mentioned to Troy, these players here have trusted us and were holding their own practices. … We
talked about how important it was to deliver to our players.”
Williams called his contacts around the league “to get someone to tell me something squirrelly about
our guys.” He got crickets. “I feel I have a great group of guys that want to get better.”
Cade Cunningham, the unquestioned leader of that locker room despite his age, 21, was among those at the introduction, and the Williams-Cunningham relationship – from everything we know about the fiber of both ends of the equation – will be the dynamic that drives the Pistons forward. Williams said when he got to Phoenix, Devin Booker told him, “Coach, whatever you need, I’ll do it.”
“And that allowed the kind of success we had there. I look at these guys, I see a lot that excites me.”
Cunningham is one of six players 22 or younger, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren among them, who comprise the core that Weaver could sell to Williams. The Pistons can add to that with the No. 5 pick in next week’s draft plus $30 million in cap space.
“We’re ready to take a step forward,” Weaver said. “We had a lot of injuries last year that derailed us,
but we’re ready to take a step forward.”
The reported six-year, $78 million deal Williams agreed to means he’s the one who’ll oversee the next
several steps. A man of deep faith, he has full faith where those next steps will lead.
“I want to have success here to the point they think I’m from Detroit the way they think Dave Bing is
from Detroit even though he’s from D.C.,” Williams said. “I want to have that kind of impact here. I told
the players this morning, I’m going to give everything I have to the job because it is a franchise that has
a rich history and that means a lot to me.”