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Lawrence Frank erred by using previous seasons as excuse

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

“It has to be a clean slate.”

That was the promise Lawrence Frank made when the Pistons hired him in 2011. He inherited a team rife in internal strife. Players boycotted a shoot-around, laughed when their coach got ejected and, when they weren’t ignoring him, berated him publicly and privately.

Frank was brought in, for among other reasons, to end the Buffoonery Era. And aside from minor incidents all teams face, he’s mostly done that.

Frank said: “Obviously, since the All-Star break we’ve had a decline. There’s no hidden mystery there. This isn’t just a this-year problem. This is an accumulation of several years, and at the end of the day we have to field a group that’s going to represent this team with great pride. … This isn’t a one-player problem. It isn’t a one-coach problem. This is a team problem that we all have to share in the responsibility.”

Frank is hardly the first coach to advocate for keeping his job by shifting blame elsewhere, and I don’t really blame him for doing it. There are millions of dollars on the line, and it’s completely reasonable he would contextualize his record based on the situation he inherited. That’s what GM Joe Dumars and owner Tom Gores should do when evaluating Frank this off-season.

But I was still disappointed Frank sunk to that level.

Frank is a coach who preaches values and consistency. He’s probably one of the hardest-working coaches in basketball, and his message – agree with it or not – has always been consistent.

At least until now.


  • Apr 5, 20132:45 pm
    by Mark


    The fact that he’s playing young players more doesn’t really do much for me, when the best young player is only 7th on the team in minutes.

    Does anyone really get excited about English, Singler, and Jerebko getting minutes?

    There’s a better chance than not that none of those players will still be on this team by the time we win our next championship. So they might as well be playing veterans with no future here, as you could say the same about a lot of these young guys they are playing.

    I do like seeing Middleton get minutes though. I think he could really be a rotatioin piece on a championship team someday.

    As for Frank, yeah he’s pretty much had no credibility with me since pre-season. When he came out and said every position is an open competition, and then continued to start Maxiell all year when Drummond had clearly out-played him since training camp.

    If his plan was to not start Drummond all along, then he should’ve just came out and said its an open competition to everyone BUT rookies, or something like that. That way he would’ve kept his credibility, while also not singling out Drummond. Frank could’ve just said he has a policy that he doesn’t start rookies.

    Then again, he started Knight all last year, and started Singler all this year…

    So, there’s really no excuse. He just talks a bunch of BS and hard to trust anything he says. 

    • Apr 5, 20132:47 pm
      by Mark


      No surprise that his players seemed to have given up on him months ago.

  • Apr 5, 20132:45 pm
    by Desolation Row


    Disagree. I’m not a huge Lawrence Frank fan, but his coaching decisions, with this roster, maybe swing this season by 5-10 games, out of a better lottery position. Can’t blame him for contextualizing when it’s the truth. This team sucks so badly, it’s not even an excuse, it’s a pure statement of fact. There’s a lack of talent and changing the coach only distracts from this team’s pitfalls. I’d rather focus on Dumars’ plan for the cap space. This team’s coaching carousel is a distraction, not a solution. 

  • Apr 5, 20132:52 pm


    Oh Frank…

    Here’s the problem…. We never became a better team…

    Dumars did all of the hard work…releasing Rip, Trading Gordon, and Trading Prince….thats where attitude and team chemistry was being destroyed,…

    Frank is just not an NBA Coach…

    • Apr 5, 20133:34 pm
      by MIKEYDE248


      Also brought in Drummond & Jose.  This team should be better all the way around than the team he had last year.

      • Apr 5, 20134:24 pm
        by G


        It must be said that the Pistons were only a few games back of Boston before the Calderon trade happened and Drummond went down. Since then the team has been 7-23. Frank is responsible for some of that, but Dumars never got a legit SF to replace Prince, and the absence of Drummond had more impact on the record than any coaching decisions did.

  • Apr 5, 20135:28 pm
    by baines


    I’m  really surprised LF made the comments about the Pistons situation being a long term problem.  His strength to me was/is his ability to talk (always sounding like he knows whats going on with the team when he has no clue).  He is great in interviews and post game chats with the media.  I was a LF fan when he was hired but since watching his coaching the past couple of seasons I’ve come to the conclusion that he is in over his head.  These comments just verify my thoughts and feelings.

  • Apr 5, 20135:33 pm
    by hoophabit


    Dan, I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand this offense taken with what LF said.  What in the quoted statement isn’t a fair representation of the Piston’s long standing problems?  G makes a good point, and the handling of Drummond was never about LF trying to subvert his rookie season or being too stupid to play him.  Drummond was both very raw and incredibly promising all at once.  Conditioning was an issue prior to his injury.  LF tends to speak his mind quite plainly and I like that about him.  Public statements about always playing with pride are long overdue in this organization.  We’ve certainly seen some sorry displays this season.

  • Apr 5, 20135:53 pm
    by frankie d


    frank has always looked and sounded like a a knowledgable nba head coach even if the evidence was overwhelming that he was exceedingly mediocre.
    that has been the secret of his “success”.  the reason he’s stuck around as a head coach for so long even though his record has been pretty lousy for a while.   he’s always been able to make sure the media was never really gunning for him and in one case at least – with gores apparently – he’s even been able to talk an owner into hiring him.
    forget how he looks and sounds.  i really don’t care if he makes the local writers feel all warm and fuzzy and that he makes them laugh and feel as though they would like to have a beer with the guy.
    all this fan cares about is the wins and losses.  
    and if you look at frank’s wins and losses – after the relative glow from taking byron scott’s leftovers – he’s been pretty bad.  or mediocre, at best.
    i’ll take carlisle and his alleged rudeness and aloofness any day. 

  • Apr 5, 20136:24 pm
    by Trent


    I hope we draft doug Anderson just so we can watch him dunk in warm ups.

    this kid is worth my admission money! 

  • Apr 6, 20138:32 am
    by gmehl


    By seasons end Frank is gooooooooooooone!

  • Apr 6, 20132:11 pm
    by Otis


    “That’s what GM Joe Dumars and owner Tom Gores should do when evaluating Frank this off-season.”
    LOL Shouldn’y Mr. Gores and people who have Mr. Gores’ and the team’s best interests be evaluating things this off-season when making decisions? Dumars would have had a hard time managing this team any worse over the last five years, and this summer’s flexibility is the result of salary dumps, waiting for bad contracts to expire, and selling a first round pick smack dab in the middle of a rebuilding “effort.”
    Also, this team has been calling itself a “no excuses” team ever since the moment they needed to excuse how bad they’ve been, and they’ve done nothing but STINK and make excuses over the last five years. The team slogan could be: “We’re not going to make any excuses, but…” And Dumars is by far the most culpable. He shouldn’t be allowed to make any more decisions as it relates to this team.

  • Apr 6, 20134:28 pm
    by CityofKlompton


    ESPN’s Weekend Dime: “League coaching sources consistently submit Frank’s name as poised for dismissal when the regular seasons ends…”

    So… who’s next? 

  • Apr 6, 20138:07 pm
    by Desolation Row


    Not just who’s next, but what’s next? What are we looking for in a coach? By all measures, Frank was brought in to curb the culture of dysfunction. By most measures, it seems as though he’s accomplished that — though personnel changes certainly played a role. So, if we’re firing Frank does that mean he didn’t curb the culture of dysfunction or that we’re ready to move on to a new kind of coach? What does that kind of coach look like? Is it a former big man who can help develop Drummond/Monroe? Someone to come create a new identity/culture this team has sorely lacked since the early Curry days? Or are we just going to get another Frank-type; cheaper but stable? If it’s the last option, I’d rather just keep Frank.

    I was never on this bandwagon, but if we can’t get a guy live SVG or Jerry Sloan (unlikely!), I think we should give Laimbeer a shot. Maybe even bring in Mahorn as an assistant. If ever there was a ripe time for his coaching of the Pistons, it’s now with this group.  

  • Apr 7, 201310:39 am
    by mshansky


    Coach Frank sounds like a salesman when he talks…he is just too articulate in some ways…he sold himself to another salesman, Gores the Ignorant, whose criteria for a head coach is all about superficial impressions.
    Cutting through the crap, the only questions I need answered are: did Frank maximize the talent he was given? did they improve during the course of the season? have they improved over the last 2 years? Is there any phase of the game in which we have seen the hand of Coach Frank impact the Pistons positively?
    From his rotations, to his double-speak regarding who gets playing time, I would love to hear anyone answer the above questions……honestly… 

    • Apr 7, 20139:52 pm
      by Otis


      Agree completely about the salesman thing, and how he always has something to say, always quick to throw some stats out there or something unnecessarily specific or minute. I’m sure the intent is to seem smart and informed and aware, but it’s just too much, and I don’t think anyone’s fooled by the smoke screen. Being quick to regurgitate numbers or specifics is only going to confuse and distract people who aren’t preoccupied with the big picture, specifically that everything about the organization is broken.

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