Pistons fire coach Monty Williams after one season

The Detroit Pistons have fired coach Monty Williams after just one season, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had not made any announcement. ESPN first reported the firing.

The Pistons were an NBA-worst 14-68 this past season, the first in what was a six-year, $78.5 million contract for Williams — one that, at the time, was the richest ever given to an NBA coach. The team started a front office rebuild when the season ended, one that led to the hiring of Trajan Langdon as president of basketball operations, the departure of general manager Troy Weaver and now a vacancy at head coach.

The firing continues a wildly strange run for Williams. In 2021, as coach of the Suns, he went to the NBA Finals, where Phoenix led 2-0 before falling in six games to Milwaukee. In 2022, he was the NBA’s coach of the year in runaway voting. In 2023, the Suns fired him and now, in 2024, the Pistons have done the same.

The record for total value of a coaching contract has since been eclipsed; Miami gave Erik Spoelstra an eight-year extension worth $120 million earlier this year.

This was, by any measure, a disaster of a season for the Pistons. They started 2-1 and didn’t win another game for the next two months.

A 28-game losing streak, the longest ever in a single season in NBA history and tied for the longest ever when factoring in multiple seasons, turned the season into a debacle. The Pistons’ longest winning streak was two games (done on three occasions) and the roster was constantly in flux. Detroit used 31 different players over the course of the season and 36 different starting lineups and lost 39 times by double digits.

The vacancy in Detroit is the third active one in the NBA, with Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers still seeking coaches as well. The Pistons’ move comes a week before the start of the NBA draft, with Detroit set to make the fifth overall pick on June 26 — someone who should be able to further enhance a young core led by Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren.

Those players, all 22 or younger, were the only three Pistons to start at least 60 games this past season.