Pistons fire coach Monty Williams after one season, owe him $65 million

Adrian Wojnarowski explains why the Pistons decided to fire Monty Williams well after their season ended. (1:24)

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The Detroit Pistons on Wednesday fired coach Monty Williams after one season, absorbing the remaining $65 million on his contract.

New Pistons president of basketball operations Trajan Langdon, who was hired a month ago, had been meeting regularly with Williams about the franchise’s future, but the decision to dismiss Williams was directed from the ownership level with Tom Gores, sources told ESPN.

Langdon delivered the news to Williams on Wednesday morning, sources said.

Pitiful past 5 seasons for Pistons The Pistons finished with a franchise-record 68 losses last season. Their struggles aren’t new, however, as they have the third-worst winning percentage in any five-season span in NBA history, trailing two overlapping spans by the Vancouver Grizzlies. Team W-L Pct. VAN (’95-96-’99-00) 78-300 .206 VAN (’96-97-’00-01) 86-292 .228 DET (’19-20-’23-24) 94-290 .245 MIN (’91-92-’95-96) 101-309 .246 VAN (97-98-’01-02) 95-283 .251 — Elias Sports Bureau

Gores and Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem had been advocates of dismissing Williams, sources said.

With the draft and free agency looming, it’s an inopportune time for Langdon to conduct a coaching search. The Pistons recently agreed on terms to hire New Orleans Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson as a prominent assistant coach, sources said. Vinson had history with Williams and Langdon in New Orleans.

Gores lured Williams to Detroit with a historic six-year, $78 million contract after he was fired by the Phoenix Suns and tasked him with the Pistons’ massive rebuild. Williams had planned to sit out the season after his wife was diagnosed with cancer but became taken with Gores’ courtship and massive offer to coach Detroit. Williams had a strong relationship with ousted general manager Troy Weaver.

The Pistons tied an NBA record with a 28-game regular-season losing streak and finished with a league-worst 14-68 record.

The Pistons are 94-290 (.245) over the past five seasons, easily the worst in the league. Detroit was the third-youngest team in the league.

Detroit has the No. 5 pick in next Wednesday’s NBA draft.

The Pistons start a coaching search as the two teams with openings — the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers — move closer to making decisions in their processes.

Williams reached the NBA Finals as coach of the Suns in 2021-22, completing a massive turnaround with a 64-18 regular-season record. Williams was 194-115 (.628) in four seasons with the Suns and was 173-221 (.439) in five seasons with the Pelicans that culminated with a playoff appearance.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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