Early frontrunners revealed for Pistons coaching job, which many NBA execs think is best opening on market

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons are in the market for a new head coach after Dwane Casey transitioned to a role in Detroit’s front office following the end of the 2022-23 regular season.

The early frontrunners to be Detroit’s new head coach reportedly are Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee, New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach Jarron Collins and Overtime Elite head coach Kevin Ollie.

“Per team and league sources, Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee, New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach Jarron Collins and Overtime Elite head coach Kevin Ollie are the current, early front-runners for Detroit’s first-chair vacancy,” The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III wrote. “Lee and Ollie were two names high on Detroit’s list going into the process and have both interviewed with team executives. Collins, too, was someone the organization was very interested in going into the process and, according to league and team sources, had a stellar interview.”

Lee has been an assistant coach in the NBA for several seasons, serving as the associate head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Lee began his NBA coaching career with the Atlanta Hawks in the 2014-15 season before joining Milwaukee’s staff in the 2018-19 campaign.

He has been with Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer for several seasons.

Collins and Ollie are both former NBA players that have experience in the coaching ranks as well.

Currently a part of Willie Green’s staff in New Orleans, Collins played for the Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers from the 2001-02 season through the 2010-11 campaign.

He was on the Golden State Warriors’ coaching staff, first working in player development, from the 2014-15 season through the 2020-21 campaign. Collins clearly has gotten a firsthand look at how a championship team operates on a daily basis from his time with Golden State.

Ollie, who played in the NBA from 1997-98 season through the 2009-10 campaign, has experience coaching in college. He is currently the head coach of Overtime Elite.

The University of Connecticut product spent six seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, winning a national title in the 2013-14 season.

The Pistons are considered by many to have the best coaching opening on the market, mainly because of their young core and the potential that they could land Victor Wembanyama if they get the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Detroit had the worst record in the NBA in the 2022-23 regular season.

“With an intriguing 22-and-under core — Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart — another possible No. 1 pick, a general manager with an eye for talent and an owner who has shown a willingness to give coaches long leashes, the Pistons’ head-coaching job is considered by many league executives that The Athletic has spoken with to be, arguably, the best opening on the market,” Edwards wrote.

While none of the Pistons’ early candidates have experience as a head coach in the NBA, they all have serious backgrounds as coaches.

It will be interesting to see who Detroit decides to choose to lead its franchise in hopes of becoming a competitive team in the coming years.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.