The basketball world was eagerly awaiting the start of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night when the coaching carousel stopped with a bombshell.  The Detroit Pistons had reportedly hired Money Williams, the 2022 NBA Coach of the Year, as their new head coach. What really blew everyone away was the massive contract Detroit used to get him to the Motor City.

Initial reports claimed Williams' contract was for $72 million over six years, but it's actually for $78.5 million over the same time. That's already the largest coaching contract in NBA history, but that's not even the full story. The Pistons can reportedly extend the contract for a seventh and eighth season, which would push its total value above $100 million.

Needless to say, the Pistons have a ton of faith in Williams. He has built up a strong track record over his career, but this is still a massive gamble. The question is, was it one worth making?

Without further ado, let's grade the Pistons' Monty Williams' signing.

Pistons' Monty Williams contract grade

Before we get into the contract itself, let's go over Williams' career to this point.

He began his coaching career as an assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2005, but his first head-coaching gig came with the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) in 2010. Williams' tenure in New Orleans was unfortunately forgettable, with a 173-221 record in five seasons. New Orleans made the playoffs twice under him in 2011 and 2015, but lost in the first round both times.

The Pelicans fired Williams after their 2015 playoff exit, a first-round sweep against the Golden State Warriors. He then spent time as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers before Phoenix came calling in 2019.

It's important to put the situation Williams entered into context. The Suns were an absolute mess before his arrival, with no playoff appearances since 2010 and going through six different coaches in that time. They had the second-worst record in the league in 2018-19 at just 19-63, with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton as essentially the only reasons for optimism.

The Suns showed mild improvement in Williams' first season, standing at 26-39 at the season's stoppage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the bubble, though, they showed flashes of what they could be in the future. Phoenix went a perfect 8-0 in the seeding games, just barely missing the playoffs due to tiebreaker. A tough blow at the time turned out to be just a taste of what was to come.

Phoenix broke out in 2020-21, finishing second in the Western Conference with a 51-21 record. With Booker, Ayton and new addition Chris Paul, the Suns emerged as one of the NBA's premier teams. They then made it all the way to the NBA Finals, but fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. Still, it was an excellent season for a team that had been down for so long.

The Suns grew even stronger in 2021-22, when Williams was named Coach of the Year after guiding Phoenix to a franchise-record 64 wins.  Unfortunately for the Suns, they couldn't match their playoff success from the year before. After beating the Pelicans in the first round, the Suns lost a hard-fought series to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round, capped by an embarrassing home performance in Game 7.

Then came this past season. The Suns came down from their previous highs, finishing 45-37. They made a big splash at the deadline to bring in Kevin Durant, but once again came up short in the playoffs. They lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round, which ended up being the catalyst for change in Phoenix.

Now that he's in Detroit, perhaps Williams could orchestrate another turnaround. The Pistons have experienced similar futility to the Suns when he first arrived, not winning a single playoff game since 2008. They have an intriguing young core led Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, plus the No. 5 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Williams is one of the most respected figures in the league, so perhaps a coaching change could give them a needed spark. He is a huge hire for the Pistons.

However, that contract is still absolutely massive. For comparison, Williams' average salary of $13.05 million is over $1.5 million more than the next highest-paid coach, Gregg Popovich at $11.5 million. Williams is a great coach, but is he better than Popovich, Steve Kerr or Erik Spoelstra? Most would say no.

If Monty Williams winds up underperforming, then this contract will be difficult to shed. That said, the possibility of that happening is pretty low. If he can turn Detroit around like he did Phoenix, then this contract will be well worth it. It's a big risk, but sometimes you have to take those risks to succeed.

Grade: A-