DETROIT (FOX 2) - The Detroit Pistons are introducing new head coach Monty Williams during a press conference on Tuesday.
The Pistons agreed to a 6-year deal with the 2022 Coach of the Year for over $78 million on May 31 but Williams has not yet been introduced to the Motor City faithful. That will change on Tuesday afternoon as he'll make his first comments as the new head coach of the Pistons.
In attendance were most of the Pistons' team, owner Tom Gores, general manager Troy Weaver, and Williams' family, among others.
"Monty, thank you for believing," Gores said when introducing Williams. "The MVP in all of this in being able to get Monty is his family. Everybody else wanted him and I think we're lucky enough to have him."
Weaver also acknowledged how fortunate the Pistons are to have landed Williams and credited the team and staff for making it possible.
"We didn't have the best record in the league - actually the worst - but teams with the best record were after this guy," he said. "It's a testament to you guys."
Williams and Weaver go back several years in the NBA and worked together in Oklahoma City more than ten years ago.
"I'm grateful for the trust that Troy had in me, not just this job for but a while," Williams said. "Mr. Gores, your generosity has changed my life."
Williams, who led the turnaround in Phoenix, said there are some similarities between the two organizations.
"I'm not trying to redo that. that was there, this is now," Williams said.
Many players and coaches, including former coach Dwayne Casey, were wearing Pistons gear with the word ‘Restore’ on it. Williams said that was a term that Gores used during the process and it piqued his interest.
"When something has been great, you can restore it back to greatness," Williams said.
The new head coach also shared a bit of his personal life about a struggle his family has been going through.
"My wife found out that she had breast cancer during the playoffs," he said.
Williams said he had to take care of his family first and prioritize her health before accepting a job but that a message from Troy reopened the door and that things moved pretty quickly after that.
The new head coach has a big task ahead of him in turning around the Pistons, a three-time NBA champion, but has earned a spot in the playoffs just twice in 14 years.
"It's a storied franchise. I've gotten so many phone calls from guys who played, text messages from guys who played here, that's been really cool. Guys who said they were happy about me coming here," he said. "It's a franchise that has a deep history and that's important to me."
Speculation ran rampant about who would lure him back as he was still owed $21 million. Detroit looked like a long shot but owner Gores must have made him an offer he couldn't refuse as Williams had just been fired a few weeks earlier from the Phoenix Suns.
"After spending some time with Monty, it’s clear that he’s found a unique balance between achieving victory at the highest level while at the same time nurturing a culture of growth, development and inspiration," Pistons owner Tom Gores said. "I’m beyond excited. This is a huge win for us."
The 51-year-old Williams was fired by Phoenix on May 13, two years after reaching the NBA Finals and a year after he won the league’s coach of the year honors.
Over four seasons, Williams won 63% of his games but the Suns were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals in two straight years.
Detroit won an NBA-low 17 games last season, and Dwane Casey stepped down as coach with one year left on his contract to take a role in the front office.
The Pistons did not have good fortune in the draft lottery, landing the No. 5 pick overall for the second straight year and missing out on an opportunity to draft 7-foot-3 French pro Victor Wembanyama, 19, who is expected to be the first overall pick of the San Antonio Spurs.
The Pistons have not won a postseason game since 2008, when they advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the sixth straight time during a remarkable run that included winning the 2004 NBA title and falling a game short of repeating as champions.