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Associated Press

Detroit Pistons fire coach Monty Williams after one season that ended with NBA's worst record

FILE - Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Friday, March 29, 2024, in Washington. 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, June 19.(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

The Detroit Pistons fired coach Monty Williams on Wednesday after just one season that ended with an NBA-worst 14-68 record.

“Decisions like these are difficult to make, and I want to thank Monty for his hard work and dedication,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. “Coaching has many dynamic challenges that emerge during a season and Monty always handled those with grace. However, after reviewing our performance carefully and assessing our current position as an organization, we will chart a new course moving forward.”

Last season was 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, including 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. 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 that 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.

“We are unwavering in our commitment to bring a championship-caliber team to Detroit,” Gores said. “We will be diligent and swift in our search for a new head coach to lead our exciting young core of players and will continue our vision towards building a best-in-class front office that will help us achieve sustainable success.”

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This story has been corrected to show that Williams' contract was for six, not five, years.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

FILE - Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams yells to his team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Friday, April 12, 2024, in Dallas. 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, June 19.(AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter, File)
FILE - Detroit Pistons coach Monty Williams reacts during a timeout in the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023, in New York. 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, June 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray, File)