Why did the Pistons fire Monty Williams? Detroit dismisses coach one year after historic contract

The Pistons hoped hiring Monty Williams during the 2023 NBA offseason would help change the direction of their franchise.

Instead, Detroit is going back to the drawing board.

The Pistons made Williams a one-and-done coach less than a year after giving him a six-year, $78.5 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Pistons struggled during their lone season under Williams. They posted a league-worst record of 14-68 and had the third-worst point differential in the league and didn’t see their young players, like Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, take the strides needed to become a winner in 2024.

The Pistons also made sweeping changes to their front office as the team looks to snap out of a prolonged slump. They haven’t posted a winning record since the 2015-16 season and have just two playoff appearances over the last 15 years.

Here’s what to know about Detroit’s decision to part with Williams.

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Why did the Pistons fire Monty Williams?

The Pistons fired Williams because they are, once again, coming off a season that saw them post the worst record in the league.

Williams was expected to be an upgrade for the Pistons after Dwane Casey guided the Cade Cunningham-less team to a 17-65 record during the 2022-23 season. Instead, Williams won just 14 games despite having Cunningham available for 62 games along with other young talents like Jaden Ivy and Jalen Duren.

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The Pistons had the third-worst point differential in the league and the sixth-worst defensive rating at 119. That was enough for Detroit to consider parting with Williams despite the $78.5 million investment they made in him during the 2023 NBA offseason.

It also didn’t help Williams’ cause that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver — who hired Williams last offseason — stepped down from his post on June 1. Former Pelicans assistant general manager Trajan Langford replaced him, which created questions about Williams’ future

While Detroit originally seemed “likely” to keep Williams as its head coach, per Marc Stein, Langford ultimately decided to stake his future to a coach he hired. That led Detroit to part with Williams as the 2024 NBA offseason began in earnest.

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Monty Williams contract details

The Pistons signed Williams to a six-year$78.5 million contract extension during the 2023 NBA offseason.

At the time, Williams’ deal was the richest for a coach in NBA history. He has since been passed by Erik Spoelstra’s eight-year, $120 million extension with the Heat, but Williams’ AAV of just under $13.1 million still ranks top-five among NBA coaches, per Sports Illustrated.

Rank Coach Team Average annual value (AAV)
1 Steve Kerr Warriors $17.5 million
2 Gregg Popovich Spurs $16 million
3 Erik Spoelstra Heat $15 million
4 Tyronn Lue Clippers $14 million
5 Monty Williams Pistons $13.08 million

The Pistons will eat over $65 million by firing Williams just one year into his six-year contract.

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Monty Williams coaching record

Williams has a record of 381-404 in 10 seasons as an NBA head coach. He first coached five years with the Pelicans, followed that up with a four-year stint with the Suns and most recently spent a single season with the Pistons.

Below is a year-by-year breakdown of Williams’ coaching record from his NBA career:

Year Team Record
2010-11 Pelicans 46-36
2011-12 Pelicans 21-45
2012-13 Pelicans 27-55
2013-14 Pelicans 34-48
2014-15 Pelicans 45-37
2019-20 Suns 34-39
2020-21 Suns 51-21
2021-22 Suns 64-18
2022-23 Suns 45-37
2023-24 Pistons 14-68

Williams’ teams have made the postseason in five of his 10 seasons. He led the Suns to one Western Conference championship but has never won an NBA title as a head coach.

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