Frank rattled off the litany of franchise accomplishments, and cited Chuck Daly’s observation that coaching is getting a dozen individuals to buy into a single vision of success.
Dumars admitted in his introduction that “we are desperate to find a long-term coach,” and Wednesday was certainly a promising start. I mean, c’mon: he had me at “Coach Daly” — and again at “accountability” and “consequences.” Talk is cheap in early August with a lockout threatening the very existence of the upcoming season, but like Packey said midway through the presser, Frank killed it in his first public appearance as Detroit’s new coach.
His reputation is as both an inveterate worker and an innovative tinkerer. I asked someone familiar with the situation how Frank was able to win over that tough New Jersey locker room so quickly.
“Because he kept showing them his decisions were right,” was the answer. Keep making the right substitutions, punching the right buttons, drawing up the right out-of-bounds play during a timeout – in short, keep putting players in position to win – and even the most cynical respond.
Frank is a safe choice to be the next Head Coach of the Pistons. We’ve all read the negative things about him: “He lost the team in New Jersey” or “his last year started off 0-16? or “He’s not as good as his 13-0 start” or “he should’ve gotten more out of that Nets team that featured Vince Carter, Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson”. Frank will give this team the stability it has lacked in the Head Coaching position for the last 6 seasons because of his demeanor, work ethic, relative youth, and experience in dealing with the attitudes that come along with “entitled” athletes.
Frank was impressive, though. A big plus is that he is not awkward speaking to the media like John Kuester and Michael Curry before him.
Should make those winter nights a little less uncomfortable for a franchise who had become defined to a degree by pregnant pauses by its head coach.
After the past two seasons, who doesn’t want to see this team get back to hustling, working hard and playing defense? It all might seem cliche, but it shows that Frank is already philosophically aligned with new owner Tom Gores and echoing the message long projected by Dumars.
Frank said all the right things Wednesday. He said what his new bosses wanted to hear, he said what the fans wanted to hear, and it’s easy to imagine he said what the players wanted to hear.
When you talk to advance scouts — the guys who go out on the road and play major roles in devising game plans — they say Frank has a huge playbook and he did a good job of getting his teams to play up to their potential.
But it all comes back to player relations. Frank carries himself with confidence, but he admits to learning a few things from Celtics coach Doc Rivers during the season he spent last year as an assistant in Boston.
But figuring the Pistons will play eventually, what kind of hire is Lawrence Frank?
In a word: critical.
Notice I didn’t say good or bad. We have no idea yet. But most coaching hires in the NBA are in reaction to the firings that preceded them. Teams go from “player’s coach” to “disciplinarian” back to “player’s coach.”
In the Pistons’ case, it’s “No Control” to “Control! PLEASE!” Detroit, basketball-wise, has been in a freefall for a while now. The last two coaches, Michael Curry and John Kuester, seemed to lose the ship not long after taking the wheel. Player revolts. Lack of leadership. Too many guys essentially playing the same position.
These were not the Pistons in whom Detroit and Dumars always had taken pride. These were not hardworking overachievers. Quite the opposite.
But I do believe that Dumars identified former Hawks coach — and former Pistons assistant under Larry Brown — Mike Woodson as his favorite early in the process. Woodson had prior success correcting “the knucklehead factor” with a young team in Atlanta.
He would have been a good fit here. But the combination of an impending league lockout and a new ownership group wanting to be more deliberate in its first high-profile hiring offered the Pistons sufficient time to consider every possibility.
Woodson won the sprint, but Frank won the marathon.
He said he deserved to be fired in New Jersey, although the team never stopped playing for him. Maybe not. But the NBA is a tough place, where even marginal players can be in control.
That’s partly why the league is headed for a long, ugly stoppage. It’s a main reason Dumars was holding yet another introductory news conference. Frank jokingly called himself a “midget,” and knows he has to look up to see his players. Around here, players have looked down on the coach for too long, and if Frank is to restore anything, that’s the first thing to change.