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No ‘outward signs of heat on Lawrence Frank’

Shaun Powell of USA Today-owned Sports on Earth has a list of NBA coaches who could be looking for new jobs in the offseason and, not surprisingly, Lawrence Frank is on his list:

Lawrence Frank, Pistons. He assumed a team in transition and the Pistons, two years later, are still stuck at the starting line with a pair of flat tires. The results haven’t been very encouraging and yet there are no outward signs of heat on Frank, either. Hey, the late Chuck Daly couldn’t coach this crew to respectability. In a sense, Frank has served as a sacrificial lamb during a rebuilding process, someone to keep the coaching seat warm while the Pistons stockpile talent and put themselves in position to win.

Does Joe Dumars have confidence in Frank being the guy to lead the club at the next level of development? Or does Dumars spend the money and go with a more proven coach? That’s really the only question. The Pistons are a lottery pick or two away, and that’s in Frank’s favor. As long as Frank’s relationship with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond is solid — because those players represent the future — he should last at least another year.

At the beginning of the season, I thought Frank would definitely be back to at least start a third season as coach. That’s not an endorsement of the job he’s done, of course, which hasn’t been good. It’s more recognizing that when Frank was hired, Joe Dumars talked relentlessly about the ‘process, the process, the process is rock solid’ that the team went through to hire Frank as well as his belief that the team had to stop the revolving door of coaches. I still think those talking points will save Frank’s job (not for long, though, if the team starts slow again next season), but I have a lot more doubt about it now.

Powell is right, though. Despite some awful losses lately and another awful season in general, and despite Frank losing the faith of large segments of the fanbase (at least according to comments here and other places, talk radio, etc.), there haven’t really been signs that Frank is in serious trouble. There has not been public finger-pointing by players, there haven’t been rumors in local media and Dumars and Tom Gores have been largely silent for quite some time now (not giving the dreaded public ‘vote of confidence’ that struggling coaches usually get just before getting axed). None of that means Frank won’t be fired, of course, but he also doesn’t have the obvious dead man walking thing that John Kuester did near the end of his tenure.

60 Comments

  • Mar 4, 20131:45 pm
    by MIKEYDE248

    Reply

    I would love to see the Pistons replace Frank, but when is the correct time?  I hate the fact that no matter how good a coach you have been for the Pistons under Dummars, you only get 2 years.  I don’t want coaches to feel like they won’t last coaching this team, but I also don’t like having a bad coach.

    First thing to concider would be, can you sign a better coach during the summer?  If not, will one become available during next season?  Do you think the team will improve under another year of Frank?  Are the players improving under Frank or do they want to play for him?

    As we have seen before, once the players lose repect for the coach, there is no more reason to keep the coach.

    This team has way under-performed this year.  With Frank having 2 years in implement his system on the players and with the new players they brough in, I would have that that this team would have been much better than they are.

    This year they added Jose, Drummond and Singler, while Knight and Monroe each notched another year under their belt and the team is at around the same record as last year.  Along with all the blown leads and blow out lossed, this team has definately taken a step back.

    • Mar 4, 20132:31 pm
      by Clint in Flint

      Reply

      I would love to see the Pistons replace Frank, but when is the correct time?

      Last week would have been a good time.  

    • Mar 4, 20137:09 pm
      by T Casey

      Reply

      Last summer would’ve been even better. But, now that we’re well into the 2nd year of his 3 year contract, MIKEYDE248 makes some good points. There were some great options out before we signed him, but atm I think most of the really promising coaches have signed elsewhere by now so we may be stuck with low quality coaching for a bit longer before anything of any real value comes up.

      I don’t think Jerry Sloan is considering coaching atm, but if he were, he’d be my fav option. He seems to get more of out his players than most any coach besides Popovic and his offensive schemes would go a long way with our young squad. After that, there’s either of the Van Gundy Brothers. They may not be THE best coaches, but either would be a clear step up from Frank.

  • Mar 4, 20132:05 pm
    by G

    Reply

    I think it should take less than open mutiny for a coach to get fired though. If a team quits on a coach, he’s gotta go. The tricky thing is there’s a subtle difference between quitting on a coach and quitting on a SEASON. This team has done one of the two, but I’m not sure which…

    • Mar 4, 20132:14 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Yeah, exactly. There’s also the possibility that the organization doesn’t particularly care that the team is losing so badly and seems to have at the very least quit on the season. I mean, there’s a good chance that about a third of the roster won’t be back because of free agency and among guys under contract, there’s at least a chance that Villanueva gets amnestied and they look to deal Stuckey and/or Jerebko.  Maybe they’re using this opportunity to tank and maybe the measure for Frank retaining his job has nothing to do with finishing the season strong. It’s impossible to tell how Dumars/Gores are evaluating this mess.

      • Mar 4, 20133:15 pm
        by MIKEYDE248

        Reply

        I agree with you that Frank shouldn’t be judged from this point in the season going forward, but he should be judged up to before Drummond got injured.  That being said, he has the team at about the same record as last years team with 3 upgrades.  Drummond, Singler and Jose.

        • Mar 4, 20133:22 pm
          by G

          Reply

          Not sure Singler would be considered an upgrade over Tayshaun… Before Drummond got injured (and the team quit), I felt like Frank wasn’t a great coach but hadn’t coached himself out of a job yet. As it is, the season was basically scrapped after the Calderon trade since the front court depth just disappeared, and Frank gets a pass. For the 2nd year in a row, mind you.

        • Mar 4, 20133:24 pm
          by G

          Reply

          …and the ’12-’13 version of Stuckey is a major downgrade from the ’11-’12 version. 

        • Mar 5, 201312:34 pm
          by Huddy

          Reply

          There are too many unanswered questions about what our roster will look like to tell if Frank has a chance to improve next year or, if we are replacing him, what coach would have a good system for the team.  I don’t see the point in all of the pleas to fire him now, the season is basically over for us and losing benefits us more than winning in many ways.  I don’t think we should just not care, but at the very least I would rather see what roster changes are made this summer before making a coaching decision.  Lots of things about the roster come into making a coaching decision.  What tempo are we going to run?  Is there a player we are getting in FA or trade that has a good history/relationship with a coach that we could potentially sign (could even be a part of FA negotiations)? How do our new players gel with Frank in the off season?  I don’t care much for Frank, but even if we are definitely getting rid of him for next season I would like to have our pieces in place before picking someone else, especially after our recent coaching choices.

          • Mar 5, 201312:50 pm
            by MIKEYDE248

            One thing bringing in a new coach now would be that it might help influence a player into coming here that normally wouldn’t.

  • Mar 4, 20132:27 pm
    by Piston Truth

    Reply

    I think what will or should happen is that you give Frank one more year stock pile the team with average to good (not great) players get another good lottery pick and sign a former head coach as the head assitant someone thats pretty good. Then with that you put him on the hot seat the first game of the season with a short two link leash if he goes on a 3- 5 losing streak next year in the begining of the season then he’s fired then you bring the head assitant up to see what he can do the rest of the season.

    • Mar 4, 20132:29 pm
      by G

      Reply

      I think you’ll find it hard to hire a decent coach if they see you playing Frank like that.

    • Mar 4, 20137:18 pm
      by T Casey

      Reply

      I really can’t stand to see another year like this one. We’ve had enough already. We need a coach that knows how to win and can help build a winning environment, or whatever they call it, for the franchise again. You can build an elite team without tanking for draft picks. I’d rather us take that route.

      • Mar 4, 20137:50 pm
        by Piston Truth

        Reply

        I think the next coach will be mike brown if frank gets fired

        • Mar 5, 201311:40 am
          by MIKEYDE248

          Reply

          I hope not, I don’t think he would be an upgrade at all, along with the Van Gundy brothers.

        • Mar 6, 20137:31 am
          by sebastian

          Reply

          And, John Kuester will be his Lead Assistant, drawing up inbound plays.

  • Mar 4, 20132:46 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    When has the Pistons hired a decent coach since Sanders ? Never. None of the former coaches are coaching as a head coach because they were not head coach material. And Frank is not head coach material either. So we should not have a problem hiring a real coach once Dumars knows how to choose one. Laimbeer, Mitchell, Sloan, Shaw, McMillian etc.

    • Mar 4, 20132:55 pm
      by deusXango

      Reply

      I agree 100% with you Mel.

    • Mar 4, 20132:59 pm
      by G

      Reply

      Who’s Sanders?

      • Mar 4, 20133:58 pm
        by Huddy

        Reply

        I believe they mean Saunders, but not sure how great he was he inherited a championship team.

        • Mar 4, 20134:23 pm
          by G

          Reply

          Saunders is a better offensive coach than Frank, but he doesn’t handle the players as well as Frank does (Frank’s not great there, but Saunders is a disaster). If you could get Saunders to coach the offense & L. Frank to coach the D, you’d have a pretty good Franken-coach.

          • Mar 4, 20135:01 pm
            by tarsier

            Saunders is possibly the best technical coach the Pistons have ever had. He just doesn’t manage to command any respect or know how to deal with his players. On the balance, that just doesn’t cut it.

          • Mar 4, 20135:15 pm
            by G

            I’d say LB was better all the way around, although Saunders ran a better offense (LB’s D was out-cold). Saunders SHOULD be an X’s & O’s assistant, but since he’s been mainly a head coach, I doubt he’ll take a lesser position.

          • Mar 4, 20137:22 pm
            by T Casey

            I agree with everything you said, G, except LF being better managin players.
            The group of guys we have now doesn’t have the clout to really push back at a coach like the old team did. I’d wager if Frank were coaching the team Saunders coached, he’d have had an even harder time keeping the players in line.

  • Mar 4, 20132:53 pm
    by deusXango

    Reply

    Frank should be let go A.S.A.P., before the draft, and certainly before the free agent signing period begins. I honestly don’t believe any quality players in the league would want to play for Frank, although none would openly admit it. This goes deeper than waiting for Frank to turn things around but, now we’re looking at money to be invested in players over a period of time….that’s something Dumars has got to get right, and the most bang for his buck. I think Frank leaves Dumars hamstrung in a lot of diverse ways.

    • Mar 4, 20133:01 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “I honestly don’t believe any quality players in the league would want to play for Frank”

      Jason Kidd in his prime liked playing for him.

      Honestly, I have no problem with ‘fire Frank’ arguments. He’s been bad. But there’s just no evidence to suggest that players dislike playing for him. Veterans like Kidd and Kevin Garnett have spoke highly of him and you won’t find negative quotes from any of his former players. I looked for them when the Pistons hired him. Hell, this team is awful right now, and you aren’t even seeing his current players talk negatively about him.

      The NBA is full of mediocre coaches. The Clippers are coached by Vinny Del Negro, who might be the worst coach in the league, and they’ve had no problem attracting players the last two seasons. You know why? Because they found a star — Blake Griffin — and that convinced another star — Chris Paul — to accept a trade there. Players will come to Detroit to play with good players, they won’t avoid Detroit because they don’t like the mediocre coach. The Pistons’ key to getting good players has nothing to do with the coach, it has everything to do with, A., spending money, and B., convincing good players that playing with Monroe/Drummond is going to be a good thing for them.

      • Mar 4, 20133:18 pm
        by G

        Reply

        Maybe Langlois should start posting comments on his twitter like the stat about how Drummond made the bench unit one of the most productive in the NBA and #ChrisPaul or something… 

  • Mar 4, 20133:25 pm
    by George

    Reply

    When are people gonna ask about JoeD being on a hot seat.  Frank has his flaws as a coach, but it is difficult to coach a squad where more than half of the guys are ill-fits/bums.  So yeah, I don’t post often, but when I do, I almost always call for JoeD’s head.

    Back to Frank though, I think he may be just one of those guys who are better suited to be an assistant.  Maybe we need a guy like Sloan to coach us.  With Monroe/Drummond, we really just need to run a meat and potatoes offense through them, and Sloan would be perfect for that.  That said, I am wondering if today;s generation of players just don’t mesh with an non-nonsense coach.  It sounds like Deron Williams drove him crazy.

    • Mar 4, 20134:24 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “When are people gonna ask about JoeD being on a hot seat. ”

      I think plenty of people are asking that, but until Gores says anything at all about the team and the season, it’s pretty baseless speculation. In all honesty, Gores has been invisible this season. We have no idea how he feels about how things have played out and whether he believes the team has made progress. 

      • Mar 4, 20137:35 pm
        by CNA5

        Reply

        I get the sense that Gores is letting Dumars tear apart and rebuild the roster how he sees fit.  While he’s made mistakes, ownership under Karen Davidson hamstrung him.  

        He could be a huge player on draft day with trades.  The tax man is coming for a number of these teams.

    • Mar 4, 20137:27 pm
      by T Casey

      Reply

      Great points, George. I hate Frank’s coaching, ut I def don’t him. He seems like a good, upstanding, guy. He just doesn’t seem cut out to be a head coach.

  • Mar 4, 20133:28 pm
    by Keith

    Reply

    The best time to fire a coach depends on the result you are looking for. Teams tend to play better for a short period after a firing. If our goal is to win more games this year, we should fire Frank now and hope for increased motivation. If, as I guess, our goal is to play hard but NOT win too many more games, we are better off firing Frank the day the season ends.
     
    A coach will want to get in contact with players and give them his expectations and possibly have training sessions over the offseason. Further, that gives a new coach time to speak with Joe about where the team is headed and what kind of players would work best in the draft and free agency. This way we aren’t (as we have in the past) forcing random players into ill-fitting systems for no good reason. That way the players know what they are getting into when they leave, and have a full offseason for communication and training camps. 
     
    I sometimes wondered if Joe hired Frank specifically because he saw the team was a failure and he knew Frank could be trusted to tow the line and keep feeding lottery picks to the team. Frank is the consummate professional, players like him, and he is capable in talking to the media without really saying anything. For a rebuilding team, that has value. And Frank had to realize he was taking on a bad roster with little hope for change – given the financial debacle we had gotten ourselves into.
     
    Ultimately though everything depends on availability. I don’t see a purpose in firing Frank if the only other coaches who might take over are Kuester-Curry types. I would rather the player have consistency than change for changing’s sake. Then again, if someone like Mike Budenholzer (Spurs assistant), Ron Adams (Chicago assistant – completely turned around OKC’s defense which got them to the playoffs the first time – despite terrible defensive personnel), or either Van Gundy would be open to the position, I would scoop them up in a heartbeat.

    • Mar 4, 20134:20 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “I sometimes wondered if Joe hired Frank specifically because he saw the team was a failure and he knew Frank could be trusted to tow the line and keep feeding lottery picks to the team. Frank is the consummate professional, players like him, and he is capable in talking to the media without really saying anything.”

      I think this is pretty close to right. At the very worst, Frank is respected (despite what a few commenters say) across the league. He brought some stability, respect and consistency (too much consistency maybe since he has been notoriously slow to change his rotation even in the face of failures) to a locker room that desperately needed it. So in that respect, his two years have been a success. But at the end of the day, he seems like just a caretaker coach. I would compare him to the first coach Dumars worked with, George Irvine. Irvine was respected and knowledgeable, though not necessarily a long-term answer. He helped establish a culture and expectations, and I think Frank has done that. Now if Dumars goes out and finds the next Rick Carlisle to replace Frank, like he did with Irvine, everyone will be happy. Well, everyone except Frank. 

      • Mar 4, 20134:25 pm
        by G

        Reply

        McMillian?

        • Mar 4, 20134:39 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          I would love Nate, depending on what they add in the offseason. If they get a couple of really good veteran starters, I’d be OK with it. If they strike out in free agency and trades and go into another transitional year, I’d rather they wait. I don’t think McMillan would be great with a young team (he yanked some of the young Portland guys — Batum, Rudy Fernandez, etc. — in and out of the rotation). If he has some reliable veterans and a mandate that Monroe/Drummond start, I’d be 100 percent on board with him. I think he’s the best coach on the market by far. If I were him, though, I’d probably hold out to see if the Clippers or OKC jobs open up if those teams flame out of the playoffs.

          • Mar 4, 20134:50 pm
            by G

            My guess is Chauncey takes the Clips job when they get tired of Vinnie. 

          • Mar 5, 201312:32 am
            by CNA5

            I think Stan Van Gundy would be a great fit for the team at this stage.  He really maximized Dwight’s talent in Orlando.  I think he’d be a good coach for Drummond.

            I think the thing that I really like about him is that he tries hard to fit his system to the players. The only downside is his demeanor and candor with the media.  I’m not sure how that fits with stoic Joe and his close to the vest management style.

            I’m not sold on McMillan as a tactician.  I think the Pistons, historically, needs a guy who is fundamentally sound with his x’s and o’s and is capable of drawing up plays to get them easy baskets.  But, I’d definitely interview him. 

          • Mar 5, 20138:09 am
            by G

            Yeah, Dwight LOVED being coached by SVG… Didn’t Shaq call him “the master of panic”? I don’t know about SVG, he came across as a whiner, and I’m not sure how much better he made his teams. McMillian has been coaching a while, he’s got a good track record, and he’d improve our defense.

        • Mar 4, 20135:12 pm
          by RussellC

          Reply

          McMillan would be good.

        • Mar 5, 201312:12 am
          by Scott Free

          Reply

          Anyone else find it odd that Nate McMillan would be a coach for Joe Dumars?  What are we going to do, get Hersey Hawkins as an assistant?

          • Mar 5, 20135:20 am
            by gmehl

            I was gonna go with Sam Perkins ;-)

  • Mar 4, 20136:34 pm
    by frankie

    Reply

    derek fisher.  he is a guy who is an obvious head coach of the future.  he is the type of young, unknown that joe d neds to gamble on.  mcmillan is great but he was fired specificaaly cause he wouldnt play the young guys.  not a good fit here.  unfortunately.

  • Mar 4, 201310:07 pm
    by rick

    Reply

    Brian Shaw people. Triangle with Moose and Drummond or at least some facets of it. Learned under Phil Jackson and now Frank Vogel. Should be coaching Lakers right now.

  • Mar 4, 201310:20 pm
    by RalphHau

    Reply

    Bill Laimbeer!

  • Mar 4, 201311:01 pm
    by MrHappyMushroom

    Reply

    I’m starting my own rumor–Phil Jackson will be hired to coach the Pistons this summer.
     
    Observing press accounts of the Lakers’ opening this season and some comments that Phil has made about coaching make me think he’d take the right opportunity.  Detroit?
     
    Personal–leading the Pistons to a contender’s level would surely vex the Lakers and Bulls. Phil will have proven something.
     
    Interpersonal–most of us are exhausted by Joe Dumars.  But he’s spent 25 with a rep as a pro and as a real guy.  One of the most respected players in his day.  Was considered a miracle worker from 2002-2008 as a GM.  His rep has been tarnished by five years of bad basketball, the revolving coaches game, and *maybe* the AI situation, (though most have figured out that AI was just an ass).  Phil won’t worry about being jerked around as coach–he’s Phil Jackson!
     
    Professional–with the right coach and the right moves, there is real promise here.  Drummond and Monroe *could* be pillars of a really good team.  There will be a lot of cap space this year.  Knight?  Dunno. But if Phil Jackson sees him as a future quality player, that could give him three impressive building blocks to add to a lottery pick and a top tier free agent.  (What top tier free agent would come to Detroit?  Quite a few if Phil Jackson is the coach.)  Phil could look at this is an exemplary starting five in search of arguably the greatest coach of all time.
     
    Treat it as gospel; it will come to pass.

    • Mar 5, 20138:11 am
      by G

      Reply

      Sorry, Phil Jackson coached Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe. He’s not coming to Detroit to coach Monroe. If he takes another head coaching job, it’ll be to coach the Knicks.

    • Mar 5, 201310:16 am
      by Keith

      Reply

      With Jackson the real issue is money. The team isn’t rich enough to be spending 10 million a year on a coach. We also simply aren’t close enough to contention to consider that kind of investment. Phil isn’t going to choose Detroit over LA-NY (teams with considerably better rosters and more money) either, so the idea is probably moot.

      • Mar 5, 201310:47 am
        by G

        Reply

        That and I think he’s probably looking at who would be interesting to coach. If the opportunity to coach Durant, LeBron or ‘Melo came by, he’d probably turn down bigger money to do it.

        • Mar 5, 201311:48 am
          by Keith

          Reply

          It would be an interesting situation. Word is NY reached out to him and he passed. LA obviously wanted him back, but balked at his demands. If he wouldn’t even consider coaching Melo-Chandler, and had somewhat ridiculous demands to coach Kobe-Dwight, I would be hard pressed to see him taking a cut for anyone. Maybe if the Heat go back to back this year, Phil could look to pad his resume. Otherwise, I don’t see him working in a small market (OKC) or without championship players.

    • Mar 5, 201311:52 am
      by MIKEYDE248

      Reply

      I actually think he would be a worse coach than Frank for this team.  When has he ever won with mid-level talent?  It takes him 2 or 3 super stars to win and a good supporting cast along with that.  His style of coaching is just dealing with egos, not building up a young team.

  • Mar 5, 20133:11 am
    by Passion not energy

    Reply

    Please God fire Frank now and give us Brian Shaw.

  • Mar 5, 201312:37 pm
    by FireFrank

    Reply

    Any great assistant coach or young coach would be great. We need someone to coach post moves and footwork to Drummond or he will only be deandre Jordan/ Dwight Howard type player. I miss the 80s90s centers

    • Mar 5, 201312:51 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Yeah, I long for the days of Jon Koncak, Luc Longley and Joe Klein too. Golden age of big men.

      If Drummond is ‘only’ a Dwight Howard type of player, the Pistons will be just fine. 

    • Mar 5, 20132:00 pm
      by G

      Reply

      By the way – there are about 12 levels of player in between Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. They’re not the same type of player. One is an All Star several times over, an Olympian, and was one of the 5 best players in the league a year or 2 ago. DeAndre Jordan catches alley oops, blocks the occasional shot and not much else.

  • Mar 5, 20131:11 pm
    by FireFrank

    Reply

    In the 90s Dwight would be a back up defensive center to come in and hack a shaq

    • Mar 5, 20131:33 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      That’s one of the dumbest comments in the history of the internet.

    • Mar 5, 20132:23 pm
      by G

      Reply

      Really? Take Dwight’s numbers last year, 20.6 ppg, 14.5 rpg, & 2.1 bpg, and put them up against the top centers in the ’95-’96 season (a REALLY good year for centers).
      Shaq – 26.6 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.1 bpg
      Olajuwon – 26.9, 10.9, 2.9
      Robinson – 25.0, 12.2, 3.3
      Mourning – 23.2, 10.4, 2.4 
      Ewing – 22.5, 10.6, 2.4
      Mutumbo – 11.0, 11.8, 4.5

      It really falls off after Mutumbo. Dwight falls somewhere in the middle of that group, so don’t say he would be a ham & egger in the 90s. That’s just stupid.

      • Mar 5, 20133:03 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        i do think howard benefits from the change in the league.  now, many of the guys who would have been centers and back to that basket types are face up PFs or guys who simply do not want to play down low.
        he is an excellent defensive center who is subpar offensively.
        sort of like a slightly better clifford ray, who gets more touches. 

        • Mar 5, 20133:33 pm
          by G

          Reply

          That goes both ways though. Current rules favor perimeter play over post play, so those high scoring numbers would go down with less touches. Ewing & Mourning might only have been a 16 ppg scorers in the current NBA.

          • Mar 5, 20133:46 pm
            by frankie d

            interesting thought.
            yes, the league has definitely changed the rules to favor wings and more athletic players.
            but, i think the change in how so many young guys approach BB – not wanting to be the hulking post guy and preferring to be the slashing, highflying wing – has a lot to do with it also.
            i still think a guy like akeem the dream would get his points and dominate as he always did.
            there just aren’t that many guys who want to play that role anymore.  hence, the odds of getting a guy like the dream out of any incoming class – either at the college level or in the pros –  is lessened.
            both mourning and ewing might definitely see a drop in scoring.  neither was all that skilled offensively.
            take ewings fadeaway away and he was useless.  his footwork was horrendous.  mourning didnt even have the jumper.  

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