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Detroit Pistons Coach Dreams: Rick Adelman

Modeled after Draft Dreams, Dan and I will be analyzing potential Piston coaches.


Age: 65

Current Job: None (not offered a new contract after coaching the Rockets this season)

Previous experience:

  • Head coach, Houston Rockets (2007-11)
  • Head coach, Sacramento Kings (1998-2006)
  • Head coach, Golden State Warriors (1995-97)
  • Head coach, Portland Trail Blazers head coach (1988-1994)
  • Assistant coach, Portland Trail Blazers (1983-88)


I’ve already written extensively about my curiosity about seeing Greg Monroe in Adelman’s high post, Kings-style offense. Monroe, like former Adelman bigs Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Brad Miller, is an excellent passer who could develop that skill even more under an offensively creative coach like Adelman. On top of that, I’d love to see whether Adelman’s offensive approach could find a way to get more production out of Austin Daye, whose size and skillset are similar to another player who excelled under Adelman, Peja Stojakovic.

Adelman has won everywhere he’s coached, save for a short stint in Golden State, where everyone loses. He’s had winning seasons in 17 of his 19 full seasons as coach. He’s well-respected, relates well to players, and has an offensive track record to match Detroit’s roster filled with players who would certainly prefer a more creative approach at that end of the court.


Cost would be a definite factor. One of the philosophies I’ve always agreed with Joe Dumars on is that it’s a waste to spend big money on a coach if you don’t have a roster capable of contending. You certainly don’t want to hire a bad coach, and that’s not the point I’m trying to make. But the Pistons are likely not going to make the playoff next season, or if they do make it, they will be an Indiana-like team that barely sneaks in because the East is so mediocre after the top three or four teams. Adelman is the biggest name coach on the market, and his experience would mean he’d probably be the most expensive as well.

Age and location are also factors. It’s likely Adelman would want to coach a team closer to contending. He’s also never veered out of the Western Conference. Monroe and Daye are nice young players, but I don’t think either is enticing enough to coax a coach of Adelman’s stature to come to Detroit.


My guess is the Pistons would be very interested only if Adelman shows an interest. I would also guess Adelman would be lukewarm to the prospects of joining a rebuilding team in Detroit. He’s reportedly a candidate with a promising young team in Golden State and he could even decide to sit out a season and still be at the top of every team’s list next year.


  • Jun 6, 201110:36 am
    by Scott


    As much as I’d like to see him as Pistons coach I’m not sure if that will happen. Adelman’s 65, and I’m not sure if he’d want to take part in this rebuilding project.

  • Jun 6, 201110:41 am
    by Zeiram


    This is really a hard choice right now, we don´t need an expensive coach because our roster is headed nowhere anyway. But at the same time we need a kind of coach who commands the respect rookie coaches normally just don´t have.
    In a dream world we get Scott Skiles and his patented short term fix and hard nosed defensive style. He installs the right values in the franchise again and get´s then exchanged for a quality coach with staying power as soon as the roster is on or near a contending level.
    Right now the only two candidates that really have me hoping are Laimbeer and D. Casey. Woodson got quit on by Atlanta he is primed to get quit on by our team as well. Please don´t make that mistake.

  • Jun 6, 201110:47 am
    by LEVI


    somebody kook at the 15 man rosters of PLAYOFF teams such as philadelphia, denver, indiana, and portland … compare to the pistons … then explain why the pistons are a lock to miss the playoffs next year. please

    • Jun 6, 201111:12 am
      by tarsier


      Who said they are a lock to miss the playoffs? “But the Pistons are likely not going to make the playoff next season, or if they do make it, they will be an Indiana-like team that barely sneaks in because the East is so mediocre after the top three or four teams.”
      The Pistons’ roster is not abysmal, but it’s not great either. And making the playoffs is not the same as contending. Contending is having a real shot at winning the championship (we’ll say at least 10% odds).
      That said, the Pistons will probably miss the playoffs again, it doesn’t really help them if they do make the playoffs unless there are other major changes too, and 5 man rosters don’t matter. In any given game, at most 12 players can play per team. Most of the time, about 4 get big minutes and about 4 more get varying amounts of meaningful minutes.
      I wouldn’t pit the Pistons’ top 4 or top 8 against hardly anyone’s top 4 or 8 (exceptions are Toronto and Cleveland).

      • Jun 6, 201112:45 pm
        by Laser


        the pistons are a “virtual” lock to miss the playoffs as currently constructed. if they can get something nice in a tayshaun sign-and-trade and make some significant moves, that could change. but as it stands, i’d bet a lot of money against the playoffs.
        and the roster is abysmal. not completely devoid of talent, but all the pieces are wrong, and all the guys you’d like to move are attached to terrible contracts. the fact that dumars’s Plan A was to give away a future first round pick (i shouldn’t have to tell you how badly needed first round picks are to us right now) and a productive player on a bad contract (but not our worst or even second-worst contract) for nothing is a hell of a condemnation of the team we’ve got.
        but most importantly, you and i are on the exact same page when it comes to “playoffs vs. contention.” it’s funny how this team’s stated standards get lower and lower as it becomes clearer that they stink. apparently now we should throw a fiesta if we make the playoffs and get steamrolled by a real basketball team. that gets us nowhere, and the act of simply making the playoffs should mean absolutely nothing to an eastern conference team if you have no chance whatsoever of winning a series. it’s actually a recipe for prolonged mediocrity.
        i fully believe that with a sound strategy a team can rebuild while staying competitive. it shouldn’t even be that hard, really. it just doesn’t happen much, because if you’re competitive in the first place, you’re not going to try to fix what ain’t broke. but you’ve got to be competitive in the first place in order to do this, and the pistons aren’t any good. so now it’s time to clear the deck and start from scratch.

        • Jun 7, 201112:45 pm
          by tarsier


          I agree that this team has played abysmally. But I still see a roster that could get it right and be better than a .500 team. I don’t expect they will. But I am guessing that you would concede that they have played at pretty near their floor for the last two years. I don’t expect this group of guys to reach their ceiling, but that ceiling is an easy 7 seed with a fighting chance for even maybe a 5 seed. Hence why I say they are not a lock to miss the playoffs.
          I also agree with you that a team can rebuild while remaining competitive, but it requires the right kind of roster. Typically one with a youngish superstar but not much of a supporting cast. Like the Lakers after losing Shaq. The Pistons, though, were not in a place to do so.

    • Jun 6, 201112:34 pm
      by Patrick Hayes



      Well, as tarsier pointed out, I never said they are a lock to miss the playoffs. But it’s seriously unlikely that a team goes from back-to-back 50 loss seasons to playoff team in one year. They could improve significantly next season and still not be good enough to get into the playoffs. But, since you brought up some other teams, I’ll explain why those teams are playoff teams and Detroit isn’t:

      - Denver: The Nuggets have three frontcourt players in Nene, Martin and Anderson who are solid or better. Detroit has one in Monroe. Arron Afflalo is a better defender and better shooter than any shooting guard on Detroit’s roster. The Nuggets have two point guards — Lawson and Felton — better than any PG on Detroit’s roster. They also have a host of young, cheap, productive players (Gallinari, Chandler, etc.). They are a much, much better and deeper team than Detroit. I don’t understand how you even used them as an example. They were a five seed and won 50 games in the West! Detroit lost 50 games in the East. I have no idea how you can compare the two rosters and think the talent level is comparable.

      - Philly: The main differences here are defense (Philly has average or better defenders at several positions), athleticism (Iguodala, Thad Young are two of the most athletic, lanky players in the league) and depth. The third pick in the draft didn’t even get consistent minutes because Philly is so solid on the perimeter with Iggy, Young, Lou Williams and Holiday. Jrue is a much better young point guard than anyone on the Pistons roster. Elton Brand is expensive, but was finally healthy and semi-reliable this season for the Sixers. Again, Philly isn’t a title contender, but they have many, many more proven assets than Detroit.

      - Indiana: This is the team closest to the Pistons, but as Dan Feldman pointed out, even the gulf between a barely playoff team like Indiana and a non-playoff team like Detroit is no easy one to close. Indiana has a flawed but still good fringe all-star in Danny Granger. Detroit had no one near as good as him offensively this season. They have a young, developing big man in Roy Hibbert. Detroit had no big as good as Hibbert offensively this season. They have a young, developing point guard in Collison who is better at playing point guard than anyone the Pistons used at his position.

      You see the pattern here? The major difference between the young talent on the Pistons and the young talent on developing teams that made the playoffs is development. Austin Daye has upside, but he has yet to put it together. Rodney Stuckey is a slightly above average NBA player who has yet to live up to his “upside.” Monroe had a good rookie season, but still had limitations big enough to fairly wonder if his ceiling is simply solid starter or building block type player. Jerebko had a good rookie season followed by an entire season missed to serious injury.

      I like these players. I see that each has significant room to improve. But the fact is, it’s not a good idea to assume that they will all get a lot better. There’s no guarantee, and just because young players on Philly or Indiana improved enough to get those teams into the playoffs after down periods, it doesn’t mean Detroit is necessarily in a position to follow that model or their young players are as good as young players on those teams.

  • Jun 6, 201110:49 am
    by detroitpcb


    Adelman made some comments about being interested in the Portland GM job and also said he was not sure if he wanted to step right back into coaching.

    He is the best coach out there but it does not seem likely that it is a fit at this point in time.

    My second choice would be Sampson, but his lack of head coaching experience is a serious drawback after our last two experiences. But Woodson never impressed me and the rest of the people mentioned for the job do not inspire much confidence.

    • Jun 6, 201112:36 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Agree on Woodson. It always seemed like his players hated him.

      • Jun 6, 20119:13 pm
        by rob


        This is a great point that nobody really has mentioned. I remember constant feuding between Woodson and Josh Smith and other players too. For a coach thats supposed to be great at working/relating with young players, that didnt come off as the case to me in ATL.

        On Adelman, he’s definitely my first choice, but he doesnt sound interested or we should;ve heard about it by now, probably. And though it’d be nice to know Joe at least made a phone call, if he’s not interested I’m not sure how much Joe can really do aside from offering huge money.

        I agree with you that you usually only pay a coach a lot of money to win you a championship. Though if the coach is also great a building up teams and developing players that has to be worth something too, right? idk how much that is, but I think it would be a good investment for Gores in the long-term to just pay a little extra now to ensure your team gets back on track ASAP, rather than skimp and have to go through 2-3 more coaches before you find one that can do it, spending more in the process.

  • Jun 6, 201110:54 am
    by Scott


    What do you guys think of Lawrence Frank as a potential candidate. I mean, he’s shown he can win as head coach despite how he left Jersey.

    • Jun 6, 201112:35 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      He’s on our list. Keep checking the site over the next couple of days, we’ll have a profile of him up soon.

  • Jun 6, 201112:15 pm
    by omar


    what about jvg as the coach?

    • Jun 6, 201112:34 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      He’s on our list. Keep checking the site over the next couple of days, we’ll have a profile of him up soon too.

  • Jun 6, 201112:55 pm
    by Laser


    there’s something i don’t like about woodson. something doesn’t impress me one lick about what he did with the hawks, i’m not crazy about his demeanor, i’m not convinced he’s ever really accomplished anything by taking over a very young and raw hawks team and bringing them from 13 wins to some consecutive playoff berths, because i think that development with their personnel would have unfolded basically the same way no matter who the coach was. i’m not sure how much i respect his career, and if i don’t respect the coach i doubt the team would have much reason to.
    as for JVG, i think we can scratch him off immediately. he may know the game and have experience, but i think his personality is going to rub everyone the wrong way. if the team was 100% behind him and made consistent strides early on, i could see it working. but once the losing started (and i’m sure that wouldn’t take long) i think it would be easy to tune him out. too much of a clown and a loudmouth for me in the highly likely event that the team didn’t buy in 100%. if the team bought in 100% i think he might actually be an ideal candidate, but it’s too big a risk to run.

    • Jun 6, 20119:19 pm
      by rob


      My feelings exactly on Woodson. That team had talent and wasnt going to win only 13 games every year. So improving was inevitable. I dont know how Woodson is getting all the credit. And it took him 4 years to get to only 37 wins. 4 years is usually the mark teams in the lottery set for rebuilding back into a champion. It shouldn’t take a coach 4 years kist to rebuild a team back into an 8th seed. Thats the opposite of impressive to me. And he seems to have the same easy going personality that Kuester and Flip had that players like Stuckey would take advantage of. I wouldnt mind if he was just a candidate, but I dont get how he is considered the front runner by most media outlets.

  • Jun 6, 20113:01 pm
    by Quick Darshan


    Another “Pro” for Adelman is that his Rockets teams played with toughness so he’s not just an offensive coach.

    Yes, the Pistons are far from competing (especially since the Heat will probably be better next season), but more than anything the Pistons need to experience success.  And that alone is worth paying an extra million or two for.

  • Jun 6, 20117:04 pm
    by gmehl1977


    This is our guy.

  • Jun 6, 201111:35 pm
    by Stephen


    As a Rockets fan,my impressions of Coach Adelman.
    His players play hard-or they sit.
    Most of his players love playing for him.
    His offense can be beautiful,multiple cuts,screens,plenty of spacing,designed to give mediocre offensive players open looks and good offensive players room to operate.
    Likes his bigs up high and if he has wings who can post up,will post them all night long.(Last two yrs Rockets haven’t had those kind of players.)
    Wants team to run,but if there’s nothing there to be patient in half-court,going thru all the options.
    Wants the Second Unit-and he believes in a complete second unit-to really push the tempo.
    His staff does a good job developing players who will listen.
    Likes to go small,using 2 PGs at once.
    Players can get in his doghouse and never leave.(Ask Terrance Williams.)
    If you aren’t a superstar and you don’t play w/in the system,you sit.
    Older stars who aren’t what they were either buy into being role players or he gets rid of them,often rather messily.
    If given a choice,plays vets over kids,plays offensive players over defensive ones.
    Makes mind-boggling in-games moves.
    Has too loose a rein w/players he likes.(Aaron Brooks was getting a ton of minutes his play wasn’t deserving.)
    Is waaaay too eager to bring in former players who know his system.(Pro to this con,there aren’t many left outside Houston except Jermaine Taylor. JT was a player Adelman loved but couldn’t give playing time because of Martin and Lee ahead of him.And he needed more D from JT to make up for Budinger. Hire Adelman and I’ll bet he will be in Dumars ear about bringing in Taylor.Taylor is a straight to basket guy,great first step,excellent on break,suprisingly good offensive rebounder and usually good for a hi-light dunk every game or two. Just saying,hire Adelman and don’t be shocked if the Pistons acquire Taylor.)
    Does not buddy up w/anybody in management/ownership.
    Either ways:
    Rockets’ D sucked past couple of yrs and Adelman gets the blame for it.However in Sac he had several top 10 Ds. His defensive schemes really require a lane-filling shot-blocking big and the Rockets didn’t have one(and still don’t,sigh.)
    He will play young players,but only if they show they understand and can fit in his offense.
    Promising rookies get a few minutes early on,then a couple of stretches,then,if they show an understanding of their role,steady minutes towards end of season.
    Stays w/his two units,even if it means bringing out a “hot hand”. While it is very frustrating at times,it does build confidence in second unit and pays off as season goes on.
    His offense is designed to give everybody shots,and by taking those shots opening up the floor for top offensive players. He will sit a player faster for not taking shots than he will a player taking good shots but missing them.
    Ironic side-note.
    After the McGrady divorce in Houston,Adelman said McGrady could still be a pretty good player in the League if he’d play the way McGrady ended up playing in Detroit.

    • Jun 7, 20118:15 pm
      by Jason


      Appreciate that input, Stephen. Definitely helps hearing from someone who presumably watched many more games, and knows much more about his tendencies in recent years. I think weighing the pros and cons, he’d be a good fit, probably better fit them most – for Detroit. Though, i think the consensus that 1) He wouldn’t be interested, and 2) Pistons shouldn’t overspend on a coach just yet, is quite deserving. It’s unlikely he’ll be the Pistons next coach. I think the Pistons best bet will be Laimbeer, with his history, how CAN’T the Pistons be the team to give him his first shot in the NBA?

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