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Joe Dumars likes Mike Woodson, Tom Gores and Dave Checketts like Lawrence Frank in Pistons’ coaching search

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Of the five known candidates for job, sources say that former Pistons assistant Mike Woodson is still the closest thing to a favorite, thanks largely to Woodson’s good working relationship with Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and the fact that Detroit would know exactly what it’s getting after Woodson’s work under Larry Brown during the Pistons’ 2004 title run.

Yet sources say that one reason Detroit’s search has dragged out so long is the strong impression that Lawrence Frank made on new Pistons owner Tom Gores and his advisers, among them former New York Knicks executive Dave Checketts.

Detroit’s choice, then, appears to be a tossup between the unattached Woodson and Frank, who remains part of Doc Rivers’ staff in Boston.

It should come as no surprise that Woodson and Frank are the favorites for the job, because they’re the only two known candidates with head-coaching experience. But whichever of the two gets hired could go a long way in showing us who runs the Pistons’ basketball operations.

I definitely favored Frank before this report, but now I have doubts. He’d be successful in Detroit only with Dumars’ strong backing, which would help keep the players in line. Without that, I’m not convinced Frank would command enough respect in the locker room.

48 Comments

  • Jul 14, 201110:20 am
    by Quin

    Reply

    While I often think players behave like children, I have a problem with the idea they need to be kept “in line.”  It’s a common idea, but I always thought that what players need is for the coaching staff to perform and to help place them in the best position to win.  If Frank can do that, the players will give him all the respect in the world.
    Sure, players can act like big babies sometimes, but in the end they are reasonable adults who will recognize the leadership of competent and capable individuals.  I don’t think people are willing to arbitrarily recognize incompetent leadership in any setting.

    • Jul 14, 201111:28 am
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Quin, it all depends on your definition of “in line.” Do I think players should mindlessly follow a coach because he’s an authority figure? Absolutely not. They’re all grown men capable of making their own decisions. But I think a team should do its best to foster an environment where the players respect the coach and seek his direction. I don’t think that would happen with Frank without Dumars’ strong support.

      I don’t think players will follow incompetent leadership, but I also think they might not follow competent leadership, either. In most cases, players have more money and power than their coach. They’re used to getting everything they want, and if they want a coach gone, that usually happens — regardless of whether that coach is a competent leader by a reasonable standard. That’s what Dumars must protect against.

      If he hires an incompetent coach, none of this matters. It won’t work, anyway. But if he hires a competent coach, success isn’t predestined, either.

  • Jul 14, 201110:41 am
    by FL PISTON

    Reply

    Go with Woodson, has done a good job getting the Hawks in the right direction while developing Big men.

  • Jul 14, 201110:56 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    I am all for Woodson as well but i was really hoping Adleman would throw his hat in the ring. Whoever out of Woodson and Frank get the job i think will only last 3-4 years at the most.

  • Jul 14, 201110:59 am
    by Alan

    Reply

    This may be the beginning of the end for Joe Dumars.  You can only co-exist for so long when the GM and the guy footing the bills see things differently. 

  • Jul 14, 201111:35 am
    by Tiko

    Reply

    hire them both as associate head coaches

  • Jul 14, 201111:42 am
    by Tiko

    Reply

    how would u guys feel if Larry Brown all of a sudden became a candidate and then Bill Laimbeer was hired to be his lead assistant!  That would give Laimbeer atleast two solid years of learning from one of the best before he takes over.  Brown wouldnt last more than 2 years obviously but this hire would be for Brandon Knight and Bill Laimbeer

    • Jul 14, 201111:51 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I think it would be a mistake on a couple levels.

      First, I know that Bill Davidson ultimately decided that he didn’t want Brown back, but I can’t imagine Dumars was happy that a coach who had been given a championship team started flirting with Cleveland in 2005. And I’m not so sure that LB would be the best mentor for a 19-year-old point guard. A player like Billups, who was strong and mature enough to handle the verbal beatdowns Brown gives his PGs, obviously benefited from playing for him. I’d honestly prefer that Knight not have his confidence shattered every day they way Brown did to D.J. Augustin in Charlotte when he was a rookie.

      And secondly, the “coach in waiting” thing never works. If you were a head coach, would you want a lead assistant who has head coaching aspirations? Particularly if that lead assistant was beloved by fans and had also interviewed for the job? You’d be constantly looking over your shoulder, worried than a mistake or slow start or whatever was going to cost you your job.

  • Jul 14, 201111:45 am
    by khandor

    Reply

    1) When I read Marc Stein’s up-date on the Pistons search for a new head coach, I did not get the impression that Joe Dumars had a preference for Mike Woodson while Tom Gores had a preference for Lawrence Frank … which is what is written in the headline of this blog entry. IMO, given the currently available set of facts, others would be making a mistake in judgment to read into this situation that Joe Dumars would, somehow, not be a strong supporter of Lawrence Frank should Joe Dumars make the decision to hire Lawrence Frank as the Pistons’ new head coach. Based on Joe Dumars’ track in the NBA, it would be safe to assert that whomever he decides to hire is, in fact, someone who he actually has faith in to do the job properly. Although Joe D. has made his fair share of poor decisions as the Pistons’ GM, nothing I have seen, read, or heard so far would seem to indicate that these were based on him not having faith in the people he chose to hire in the first place. 2) Lawrence Frank has a solid reputation as a head coach who has always been able to obtain/maintain the full support of the best players on his team. There is no reason to suspect that this would change, if he was to become the new coach for the Pistons.

  • Jul 14, 201111:55 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    You have to hire the man the owner wants or both the GM and the coach have their jobs on the line and the players know it. In an NBA locker room, the players can always smell blood in the water. Look at what they did to Q (not that he didn’t deserve it but either woodson or frank will get the same treatment (dead man walking) if the owner and GM are not behind them 100%.

    As usual, Feldman is 180 degrees wrong.

    • Jul 14, 201112:03 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Uh, isn’t that what I said?

    • Jul 14, 201112:06 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Wow. Simply stunning. You said EXACTLY the same thing Dan did, then said he’s wrong?

    • Jul 14, 201112:25 pm
      by Mike

      Reply

      maybe it was a Jason Kidd like slip, and by 180 degrees wrong, he actually meant you are right

  • Jul 14, 201112:20 pm
    by Marvin Jones

    Reply

    I personally do not want another “Larry Brown protege” running things. The walk it up, call a play style was one of the main points of contention with Q and now you hire another coach in the same mold, that’s asking for trouble right off the bat. These young players want a free flowing style of play not a control freak. If Joe wants the players to back the coach then he should at least get a coach that plays a style that they prefer.  

  • Jul 14, 201112:32 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    First I am not sure how much I am taking Stein’s report as what is actually going on.  Maybe its true and maybe its not. 

    2nd if it is true I don’t like the report from Stein at all.  Even though Dumars has had trouble with coaches I still think he should have a better feel than Gores advisors.  If we pick the wrong coach I put it on Gores if this report is true.

    3rd I think a coach we need is a someone who has confidence and can just get us over the hump into the playoffs.  Someone who has the ability to.  Then when we reach that level we can look at better options for coach if we need to.

    I would pick Woodson over Frank for sure.

  • Jul 14, 20111:49 pm
    by Todd

    Reply

    Woodson came back for the second interview with The Bob’s, but did he get his next interview with Gores yet?

    Frank apparantly did according this article, yet we never heard about it.

    For whatever reason, the local media seems to be all over Woodson during this search, updating his every move throughout, while the others you hear nothing about.

    Did Laimbeer even interview? Wouldnt know based on their coverage.

    Kind of seems like Joe has his media henchman pushing for Woodson to maybe convinvce Gores, who up until now, doesnt seem very convinced, considering its taken this long to decide.

    If Gores, Checketts, and The Bob’s like Frank, I think you have to believe its going to be Frank. The only way its Woodson, imo, is if Gores says to himself, ‘let Joe hire Woodson, if it doesnt work, they both are out in 2-3 yrs’.

    I really dont care who it is at this point. It feels like they dragged this out longer than the ownership change already. Just pick somebody.

  • Jul 14, 20111:55 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    the more i think of it the more i feel like either of these guys would be a disaster. mike woodson never accomplished a single thing in his head coaching career, and lawrence frank had an extremely uneven run in new jersey. anybody trumpeting either of these uninspiring choices has to be absolutely nuts.

    honestly, i get the distinct impression that dumars doesn’t think the head coaching position is very important. like, at all. look at his track record. he’s either hiring duds so they can fall on the sword if and when things go south, or he simply can’t be trusted to make the decision. he wants to pick a guy he’d like to have around the building and smoke a bowl with or whatever.

    but above all else, the notion that whomever dumars wants is the preferable choice simply because dumars’s backing makes the difference is complete insanity. dumars is going to back anyone who gets picked, no matter what. gores is not a sentimental man; he’s a businessman. dumars’s job is legitimately on the line for maybe the first time in his entire life, and for once he’s going to be held responsible for what happens next.

    personally, i’d love for a hire– any hire– that qualifies as “making a splash.” i’d hire my coach based on upside right now, whether that’s someone like sampson or laimbeer or even ewing. or some other guy who comes out of nowhere. woodson and frank may have experience, but that doesn’t make them safe choices. this isn’t looking good…

    • Jul 14, 20112:47 pm
      by CityofKlompton

      Reply

      Hire the candidate with the most upside…. isn’t that what Joe has done with his past few moves??  Curry was a guy with little experience and huge upside (much like laimbeer, ewing) and we saw how that went…  While Q wasn’t the first choice, he was touted as a guy with head coaching potential and years of assistant experience that never got the opportunity at the lead role.  He was expected to come in and show his potential immensely.  We know that didn’t happen.

      I say go with a guy who has some head coaching experience.  Especially if we’re going to be dealing with a handful of the immature players that we already have on the team.

      • Jul 14, 20113:06 pm
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        @CityofKlompton:

        The list is even longer — Dumars hired George Irvine and Rick Carlisle when they had no HC experience (although Irvine had been the interim coach the year before). Honestly, he’s only made ‘upside’ hires in most cases. That’s why he has to replace coaches so often. The problem with upside is that the downside is often just as great.

        And @Laser, I think it’s crazy to suggest that Dumars doesn’t think coaches are that important. When he’s had a good team befitting of spending a lot of money on a top candidate, he’s done it twice with Brown and Saunders. When his teams have been rebuilding or unknown, he’s hired your ‘upside’ candidates. One out of four proved to work out, but the strategy you are parroting is exactly what he’s done most of his career as a GM. Yeah, three of the four outside the box guys he hired were busts. But that’s what going for upside gets you — high reward if you hit as they did with Carlisle, but high risk if that person’s flaws get exposed.

        • Jul 14, 20114:20 pm
          by Laser

          Reply

          call me crazy, but i don’t think curry or kuester were upside guys. i think they were choices dumars had a comfort level with. i just want to see someone with charisma. not another dud who happens to have a shitty head coaching career on his resume.

          mike woodson never accomplished a single thing with the hawks. i can’t possibly stress that enough. six years, zero accomplishments. with those young players, they could have been coached by the pretzel vendor and had the exact same trajectory.

        • Jul 14, 20114:27 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          I agree with you on Woodson. Smith and Horford are really good. So is Johnson, albeit way overpaid. Those three and any mediocre collection around them were virtually guaranteed to be in the playoffs each season. Although Smith did get significantly better during Woodson’s final season when he stopped shooting from outside before reverting back to a 3-point chucking machine this season.

          And as for Curry and Kuester, yeah, Dumars was comfortable with them, but I think they were hired as much because he thought the players would be comfortable with them and respect them.

  • Jul 14, 20112:35 pm
    by Mike

    Reply

    I agree with Laser – I’m not thrilled with either Woodson or Frank.  If I have to choose between then I would take Woodson.  I just don’t see the players respecting Frank at all.

    I also agree the Pistons need to make a splash.  Neither of these is a splash and Frank might actually be a thud.

    My first choice is still Lambeer.  Hire him before Minnesota does.

    • Jul 14, 20112:46 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Honestly, I don’t get the “players wouldn’t respect Frank” meme. Is it just because he’s little or something?

      He coached veterans in NJ. He had a good relationship with guys like Kidd, Carter, etc. And there have been nothing but good things said about him in Boston, where he works in the most alpha dog locker room in the NBA.

      Woodson, meanwhile, had a handful of disagreements with players, notably multiple ones with Josh Smith. Isn’t it a possibility that Frank is better at handling egos then he’s being given credit for?

      • Jul 14, 20113:14 pm
        by Murph

        Reply

        How much coaching did Lawrence Frank actually have to so?  Future Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd was running the Nets, who had just come off of two straight trips to the Finals.  All Frank had to do was toss Kidd the ball and tell him to run the show, which Kidd did.

        As soon as Kidd was traded away, the Nets became the worst team in basketball, under Frank.

        • Jul 14, 20113:36 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          That’s a stupid argument. Is Phil Jackson not a good coach because of Jordan/Pippen/Shaq/Bryant? Riley not a good coach b/c of Magic? Daly not a good coach because of Isiah? Popovich not a good coach b/c he has Duncan?

          “As soon as Kidd was traded away, the Nets became the worst team in basketball, under Frank.”

          Wow. You don’t say. You trade away your best player in order to cut costs and your team gets WORSE? That is unbelievable.

          Great players are far more important than coaching. Having Kidd doesn’t mean Frank was a bad coach. He certainly had the benefit of having a top player to work with, as any coach would want. But there’s no logic in your comment. Woodson coached All-Stars in Atlanta in Johnson, Smith and Horford. Should that be held against him too?

          • Jul 14, 20113:48 pm
            by Murph

            “Having Kidd doesn’t mean Frank was a bad coach.”

            The point is, having Kidd doesn’t mean Frank was a GOOD coach.  ANYONE could have won with that team.  All Frank did was suck up to Kidd, and let Kidd run the show.  Frank exhibited no coaching talent whatsoever.

            And the funny part is, Frank STILL ended up with a losing record in NJ.

          • Jul 14, 20113:53 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            I never said Frank was necessarily a good coach. He’s shown good and bad qualities in his career.

            But, I will say this again, to talk about the failures during his final three seasons in NJ without mentioning that the team was being sold and they gutted their roster is disingenuous. A lot of good coaches have losing seasons, and sometimes, the forces that cause the losing (lack of talent) are outside of their control. The fact is, the personnel decisions were outside of his control and that team was going to lose post Kidd trade no matter who the coach was.

          • Jul 14, 20114:22 pm
            by Laser

            frank > woodson. and, yes, that’s objective.

      • Jul 14, 20117:17 pm
        by khandor

        Reply

        Patrick,
        re: “<i>Honestly, I don’t get the “players wouldn’t respect Frank” meme. Is it just because he’s little or something?
        He coached veterans in NJ. He had a good relationship with guys like Kidd, Carter, etc. And there have been nothing but good things said about him in Boston, where he works in the most alpha dog locker room in the NBA.
        Woodson, meanwhile, had a handful of disagreements with players, notably multiple ones with Josh Smith. Isn’t it a possibility that Frank is better at handling egos then he’s being given credit for?</i>”
        The facts involved with both men’s coaching careers to-date suggest that your comment is right on the money.

  • Jul 14, 20113:07 pm
    by Danny

    Reply

    I side from the start Frank was the best of the candidates. Frank maximized NJ’s potential when he was there, while Woodson disappointed in ATL. Not to mention Frank will make us better defensively than Woodson would have.

  • Jul 14, 20113:10 pm
    by Murph

    Reply

    Anyone but Lawrence Frank.  He’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Frank took over a NJ Nets team that had just gone to the NBA Finals two years in a row.  But after he took over the Head Coaching job, the Nets got worse, almost every single year.  Finally, Frank was fired, after the Nets started the 09-10 season with 16 losses in a row, only a couple of losses shy of an NBA record.

    One upside to hiring Frank is that it would insulate Dumars from taking any blame, when Frank fails, since Frank would be Gores’ choice, and not Dumars’.

    Another upside would be that Frank would get fired after two year, at which point, the Pistons might actually give Bill Laimbeer a shot…but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    • Jul 14, 20113:30 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Well, Frank and Eddie Jordan were credited for the success of those Finals teams more than Byron Scott, Jordan for designing the offense, Frank the defense. And Byron Scott was fired mid-season after that second finals appearance and replaced with Frank, largely at the behest of Kidd, who wasn’t a fan of Scott. Here was how Frank did:

      • 25-15 (Had a 3-2 lead in round two vs. Detroit before the Pistons came back)
      • 42-40 (NJ lost two starters, Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles, and two key subs, Lucious Harris and Rodney Rogers; lost in first round)
      • 49-33 (advanced to second round)
      • 41-41 (Lost starting center, Krstic, to injury but still advanced to second round of playoffs)

      Then, Kidd got traded (incidentally, not because he had problems with Frank. Kidd was mad that management kept cutting costs by dumping Martin, Jefferson, etc. for next to nothing) and the bottom fell out. In Frank’s final three season, he was handed a bum roster and he still had some minor successes. Devin Harris had the best season of his pro career playing for Frank and became an All-Star, for example.

      But, the point is, what, exactly, was Frank supposed to do with the roster he had in NJ post Kidd-trade? Seriously, go look at those rosters his final three seasons. What was your expectation for that team? Coaches need talent to win in the NBA, period. He had it to start his coaching career, and he made the playoffs four straight years and won three playoff series. He didn’t have it the final three years of his career and the teams had bad records. It’s not rocket science. Ownership gutted its roster of high priced talent in order to sell the team.

       

      • Jul 14, 20113:40 pm
        by Murph

        Reply

        So you favor hiring a coach that lost 16 games in a row to start the 09-10 season???

        If Frank hadn’t mercifully been fired after 16 games, he certainly would hold a new record for futility to start a season.

        And this is the guy you want hired over Bill Laimbeer???  Man…

        • Jul 14, 20113:43 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Honestly, I don’t much care who they hire. I just don’t like arguments for or against people that lack nuance. Yes, his final three seasons in NJ were bad. But to gloss over his first four years as “oh, that’s just because he had Jason Kidd” and to not look at his final three years and say, “Man, they absolutely gutted that roster,” is just dishonest and ignorant. No coach would’ve won with that roster.

          Every candidate for the Pistons job has pluses and minuses. But for you to act like there’s some runaway, obvious candidate is just silly. It’s fine you are a Laimbeer fan and want him to get the job, but there’s nothing that suggests he’s far and away the best candidate, just like there’s nothing to suggest Frank or Woodson or Sampson are.

          There’s only one man for the job, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Jul 14, 20113:15 pm
    by rick

    Reply

    I would not go that far and giving Frank credit with Kidd and company, didn’t they all leave at some point? Josh Smith is well Josh Smith , and what has he done for his entire career? Nothing. So before I use guys like that as a measuring stick as to if Woodson can coach I would need a better serving sample. He took the Hawks to limit period point blank. What did you all expect for him to do with that management team down there? Joe Johnson 120 million enough said. So before we bash the coach, look at management! While neither choice is inspiring we all need to look at the revolving coaching door in the NBA and say who do you really think is going to take this team to the next level. Maybe Woodson can do that. Maybe Rip will listen and come off the bench if we trade Gordon and actually respect and appreciate a coach who will come to him like a man and tell him his expectations. Unlike Curry and Kuester, who seemed to have trouble sending messages to players. We will never know,but Woodson would have been a better hire than “q” before Q got hired , but it was all about timing and he was still coaching the Hawks at the time. People in Detroit would be happy if he could get  this team, with a few of the parts we have, over the hump and in the playoffs. Frank can be his assistant as far as I am concerned. Who says that Woodson would even be exactly like Brown anyways? Greg Popovich is like Brown, and I bet you all would take him in a heartbeat .Lets not act like the East top three teams were not better than the Hawks the past few years so how far could he really had taken them without a top flight point guard or center? We have both of those things and they are both young, so why not see how he can coach them up. One more before I go if Joe gets fired do you think an owner in the NBA would not hire him? Be careful of what you wish for. The owner of the Nets wanted him and I am pretty sure someone else would as well. We act as though Joe has not had constraints these past few years. He does not own the team he works for the team.

    • Jul 14, 20113:31 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I never said Woodson couldn’t coach. I’m just saying he had more high profile locker room issues than Frank.

  • Jul 14, 20113:16 pm
    by RandomGuy313

    Reply

    I can understand that there is no impetus to to escalate this process, but I am so done with discussing who should be the next coach. Get on with it already JoeD!!

    I think regardless of the coach the pace will remain below the league average as a big function of the pace is the players running the offense.

  • Jul 14, 20115:52 pm
    by Brian P

    Reply

    What possible motivation is there to hiring a coach right now? None of the candidates are stellar, so “losing” them to another team is not a big deal. It does not appear that basketball is going to be played anytime soon, so why pay a coach to do nothing?

  • Jul 14, 20116:24 pm
    by bill brasky

    Reply

    Hire Laimbeer. The man has won NBA titles as a player and I believe 3 WNBA titles as a coach. He still worked the X’s and O’s aspect to the game in the wnba, so the argument on whether he would be successful in the NBA is sort of absurd. The team needs a stern general, which Bill has proven to be. Woodson could still be a candidate for an assistant job. Defense wins championships. Bill IS defense.

  • Jul 14, 20116:30 pm
    by Tiko

    Reply

    Can we all admit that these two candidates are just as medicre as the other and it really won’t make a difference who is hired?

  • Jul 14, 20116:47 pm
    by CityofKlompton

    Reply

    Well, didn’t this turn out to be quite the popular post and comment thread… :D

  • Jul 14, 20117:15 pm
    by BBFFL

    Reply

    HIRE THEM BOTH AS ASSOCIATE HEAD COACHES .IF THEY AGREE TO IT.IF THIS HAPPENS  DUMARS GOT HIS MAN.GORES AND CHECKETTE HAS THEIRS.EVERY BODIES HAPPY.WE NEED UNITY NOW MORE THAN EVER.STICK TOGETHER GO PISTONS

    • Jul 14, 201111:13 pm
      by John

      Reply

      By associate head coach, do you mean Co-head coaches??? That is a worse idea than signing Fennis Dembo to a long term contract. If you are going to yell, at least make a good point.

  • Jul 14, 20117:20 pm
    by BBFFL

    Reply

    PUT EWING AND LAIMBEER ON THAT BENCH,AND THE COACING STAFF IS STRONG.THIS SEEMS LIKE THE IMPPOSSIBLE,BUT THATS WHAT THE PISTONS NEED RT NOW,THE IMPOSSIBLE.

    • Jul 14, 20118:38 pm
      by CityofKlompton

      Reply

      Oh man… You need the caps lock key now more than ever…. yeesh!

  • Jul 15, 20112:04 pm
    by Murph

    Reply

    “”But to gloss over his first four years as “oh, that’s just because he had Jason Kidd”.”

    Don’t kidd yourself.  The 1st 3 1/2 years of Frank’s tenure in NJ were’s so great either, even with the future Hall of Fame and future NBA Champion PG, Jason Kidd.

    The last 3 years of Frank’s tenure were horrible.

    Over all, my opinion is Frank under-achieved in NJ, while the team got progressively worse almost every year.

  • [...] Our good friend Zach Lowe of SI.com had some nice perspective on the pros of both candidates: [...]

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