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Lawrence Frank failed to inspire Pistons

Lawrence Frank likes to tell a joke about his youth basketball experience.

“I was like a bad Hollywood actor,” Frank will say. “I kept hearing ‘cut, cut, cut.’”

It’s easy to feel for Frank. It’s not his fault he was born into a small, unathletic body. His playing career ended early, not because he didn’t work hard enough or didn’t understand the game well enough, but because he lacked the physical skills necessary to compete. That’s unfortunate.

It’s also easy to feel for Frank when it comes to the Pistons teams he coached. It’s not his fault he had an abbreviated training camp before his first season, coached five rookies this year and had his second season interrupted by a trade that sent away Detroit’s top wing player and unbalanced the roster. His Pistons tenure ended early, not because he didn’t work hard enough or didn’t understand the game well enough, but because he lacked the players necessary to win big. That’s unfortunate.

But regardless of his excuses, justified or not, Frank once again failed to inspire the decision maker in charge of his future. And now Frank is cut once again, fired from what very well could be his last NBA head-coaching job.

Remedying a bigger flaw, developing a smaller one

Frank’s failure to inspire didn’t start with his ultimatum to Tom Gores. Despite his confidence at his opening press conference – “I look forward to working with you guys over the next several years” – Frank didn’t deliver on any grand goals.

Under Frank, the Pistons never looked like a team that believed it could accomplish big things. His teams have consistently succumbed under pressure, and in a very telling stat, the Pistons were 0-15 this season at Western Conference teams.

Winning during road trips is difficult. Unless the team believes it can win, it’s easy to fall to the temptations and traps of what can be a vacation.

To be fair, Frank missed four of those road games while tending to his ill wife. But in the games at Western Conference teams he coached, the Pistons were 0-11 and lost by more than 13 points per game.

In hindsight, the Pistons’ third game of the season, at the Lakers, was a particular letdown. We now know the Lakers were much more beatable than it appeared at the time, and a confident Pistons team could have competed with them. Instead, Detroit lost by 29 while playing like the Lakers were the unstoppable juggernaut most expected them to be.

Before the Pistons hired Frank, Charlie Villanueva said he wanted a coach who “played the game.” That wasn’t really Frank, and although that shouldn’t disqualify Frank or other similar coaches from landing top jobs, the perception probably hurt him, and I suspect that’s a big reason he failed to inspire.

In context of recent coaching firings, Frank’s problems are relatively minor. Frank halted the more serious problems that plagued the team under John Kuester and Michael Curry. The Pistons’ internal strife was limited, at least to the degree it spilled into the public.

Kuester and Curry failed to inspire the team, too. But their players responded by rebelling. Frank’s players responded by not playing up to their potential. That’s a big difference, but not one large enough to justify the Pistons keeping Frank.

The Andre Drummond issue

Even though Frank wasn’t an expert motivator, that didn’t mean he was doomed to failure. Every coach has flaws, and Frank had at least a chance to overcome his. But Frank didn’t properly deploy his biggest inspirational weapon:

Andre Drummond.

Drummond was a revelation this season, a 19-year-old center with once-in-a-generation athleticism who might already be the Pistons’ best player. But he played just more than 20 minutes per game, eighth on the team, and spent most of the season backing up lackluster Jason Maxiell.

Many disagree about the importance of NBA coaches, but even those who think coaches are limited believe allocating playing time is important to a team’s success. In this regard, Frank failed brilliantly due to his use – or non-use – of Drummond alone.

Greg Monroe posted a better net rating (team’s offensive rating minus defensive rating when on the court) when he played with Drummond. So did Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler, Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell, Tayshaun Prince, Will Bynum and Charlie Villanueva.

This wasn’t a matter of Frank having to wildly compromise his values and adjust his rotations to play Drummond more. The Pistons performed better when Drummond played with each of the team’s eight most-used players. There wasn’t a bad combination in the mix.

Drummond being good obviously makes a difference, but it was more than that. Players surely wanted to play with someone who has Drummond’s youthful energy, someone whose ability to find dunk opportunities creates open look for them, someone whose athleticism can cover their defensive mistakes.

Simply, Drummond inspired – but Frank never took advantage, and that might be the biggest reason he won’t see a third season in Detroit.

The inspiration gap

When Frank was hired, I wrote:

To start, the roster is still a mess – too many shooting guards, not enough interior players, too many players who could use major minutes, not enough players who necessitate major minutes. That’s probably a multi-year fix, and I won’t lambaste Frank for flaws he inherits with this team. I hope, and think, the Pistons won’t, either.

But Frank must help the players progress. Nearly every Piston could reasonably be expected to play better than he has the last year or two. For the players to improve under Frank, he must first get them to buy in.

Frank is gone, because he didn’t inspire the players to progress. But, despite a mid-season trade that improved the Pistons’ outlook, the roster is still somewhat a mess. With significant cap space and a lottery pick at their the disposal, the Pistons will have an opportunity to fix it.

They’ll also haven an opportunity to upgrade their coach. But whether or not Joe Dumars is retained, do you trust this management team to pick the right one, especially considering Tom Gores preferred Frank when Dumars wanted Woodson?

Gores said he’s willing to spend, and now is the time to show it. Bill Laimbeer, Patrick Ewing or Kelvin Sampson – who each interviewed for the job when it was last open – might be the best replacement for Frank. But if the pool of candidates is that small again, the Pistons are too likely to repeat previous mistakes. If one of those three beats out coaches who will command more money like Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy and Nat McMillan, that would help establish their worthiness. The field must be larger this time, and that will require Gores to not only be willing to pay Frank $4 million next season, but his next coach more than that.

Frankly, I’m not impressed with the Pistons for simply firing Frank. Gores gave a too-soon declaration the Pistons “better” make the playoffs, and Frank is paying the price. Frank was the wrong coach for the job, and considering what the Pistons knew, he deserved to be fired. But I’m not sure there was a right coach for the job given the top’s instance on winning now despite having a substandard roster.

Gores, and maybe Dumars, will have a chance to hire another coach, though I’m not certain they’ll tab the right one. If they don’t upgrade the roster or change the impatient culture of the organization, they definitely won’t.

Frank is gone. I’m still uninspired.


  • Apr 18, 20133:38 pm
    by G


    I pretty much agree with all of that. I was probably 50/50 on firing Frank THIS year, but 100% on not extending him. When he gave his ultimatum, he had to go. L. Frank was a space-eater coach. He didn’t give the organization anything, he just occupied the role of coach for the last 2 years. Like I said before, a replacement-level coach. I hope they can do better this time.

    • Apr 19, 201310:23 am
      by I HATE FRANK


      I said it from the start he wouldnt last more than 2 years.

      Im not saying any coach could turn the Pistons into a play-off team or play-off challenging team, but there were alot of coaches that could have inspired this team.

  • Apr 18, 20133:39 pm
    by mixmasta


    I am inspired now. Is this LF’s doing?

  • Apr 18, 20133:49 pm
    by Mark


    Van Gundy will cost some money, but they should get him. Dumars would then be out of excuses. 

  • Apr 18, 20133:52 pm
    by cr29


    I get the same feeling with this team that I did with the Lions during the Dre Bly era- doomed. None of the pieces fit and I feel like they’re going to have to get worse before they improve significantly.

    I was really hoping Gores would can Dumars so they could bring in someone with a fresh perspective. My problem with Joe is that he has consistently shown too much belief in ‘his guys’. I guess I’m just going to have to hope he proves me wrong during this make-or-break offseason.

  • Apr 18, 20133:52 pm
    by by key decisions know


     Phil or Mike B FROM SA

  • Apr 18, 20133:53 pm
    by RussellC


    I think SVG is a bit of a drama queen and a crybaby who may be a good coach but those two things make him less attractive to me.

    • Apr 18, 20134:22 pm
      by The Rake


      Agree. I dont want this retread, even if he can coach.

  • Apr 18, 20133:59 pm
    by Mel


    Great article Dan, I appreciate your view when it comes to the Pistons. Keep up the good work. 

  • Apr 18, 20134:06 pm
    by Fennis


    Frank’s downfall was the near pathological tendency to give up big leads. If a team can regularly reach big leads against good teams and bad, it has talent. An inability to capitalize leads indicates faulty strategy. The Pistons poor play entering the second half (for about the first two-thirds of the season) underscores the point. 

    I want to highlight one more glaring problem: the rotation. Frank loves to talk about the players “deserving” of minutes, but when reading his comments I often got the point that he was more interested in the “just”/fair distribution of minutes than he was in getting wins. You simply can’t play four guards and expect any one of them to establish a sufficient rhythm in a single game or over the course of several games.

    When Stuckey returned from an injury, reporters asked Frank whether he’d put Bynum back on the bench given that a four-guard rotation seemed impractical (to put it mildly). Frank responded that he simply couldn’t do that because Bynum had played hard and deserved minutes. This calculation was completely independent of whether Bynum’s significant minutes as the fourth guard/third point guard gave the Pistons a better chance of winning. 

    I think Frank’s stature and lack of history as a player makes him obsessive about winning approval from hard working players who “play the right way.” Normally, I’d fully support this, but if taken to an extreme it creates perverse outcomes. The obvious example is his insistence on playing Maxiell over Drummond because of Drummond’s technical mistakes. 

    Frank is well positioned to be the best assistant in the league until his coaching days are over. I just don’t think he has the credibility, the hutzpah, or the passion for winning to be a successful head coach. He is passionate about the process and about playing the right way, but winning often seemed to be a few notches lower on his list of priorities.  

    • Apr 18, 20135:52 pm
      by mixmasta



    • Apr 18, 20136:44 pm
      by Vic


      I totally agree with this and I’ve been saying things like this since the first week of the season. His process is great and he would be a wonderful assistant, but as far as execution of big decisions in real time he’s not they guy. He’d be great in college or as an NBA assistant.

  • Apr 18, 20134:21 pm
    by The Rake


    Good writeup. At the same time, I was against Frank’s hiring from the jump and that proved to be a worthy opinion. Yes, the roster is a mess, and finally may be on the way to sorting out issues, but the minutes issue you mention is accurate (Maxy vs AD) and the man, from day 1, never seemed to really have this teams (or this fan’s) ear. I would like to see Laimbeer, if only because then, that will seemingly placate (and possibly excite, at least momentarily) a dormant fan base. Yes, the talent will still be thin, but Laimbeer is a no holds barred sort of coach and I think he can work on the big men that this team’s future is so hinged upon. What to do with Knight appears to be the most pressing matter at hand, which could play a role in how we draft. HC, Knight, draft, FA spending…these are the things we’ll be looking at this offseason. Firing Frank was a necessary, but good, start.

  • Apr 18, 20134:26 pm
    by MIKEYDE248


    What will the future of the Pistons be?  They have a lot of bright spots.  Lots of money to spend on free ajency, two very promising big men, a top 8 pick in the draft and an owner saying he is willing to spend money to win championships.

    The bad thing with all this is the timing.  They are in need of a new coach, but there aren’t any proven coaches looking for a job.  They have money to spend in free ajency, but there aren’t really any great ones out there.  They have a top 8 pick in the draft, but outside of the top one or two players, none of the players look to be a superstar.

    The Pistons need some luck, like they had with Drummond and Monroe in the draft and hope that Joe or the new GM can pull off a trade to pull in a superstar or at least upgrade on what they have right now.

  • Apr 18, 20134:55 pm
    by Mark


    I like Laimbeer but I don’t think Dumars would hire someone who might challenge him.  I just don’t thinking is a goods mix, or Joe would have taken a chance on him. Regardless of who is coach, his job will be on the line if the playoffs are not made within the next Year or two. 

  • Apr 18, 20135:14 pm
    by frankie d


    there seems to be a bit of confusion on the part of many fans and observers.
    it appears that many are incapable of viewing frank’s tenure apart from dumars’ responsibility.
    i think dumars has botched things for quite a while.  it started with the darko pick, got a bit worse with the saunders hiring, really started gaining momentum when he failed to keep ben wallace when he came up for free agency, and things just went to high hell when he traded chauncey. Post-AI there have been too many screw-ups to even list in a single post.
    that being said, however, i’ve been willing to at least give joe d a shot at fixing the mess he’s made of things.  
    would gores be justified in firing him?
    heck yes.  no doubt, and it is an easy case to make.
    however, joe d has done enough good things over the years, and even in the last couple of years to at least establish an argument that he should keep his job.
    i wouldn’t vigorously argue with anyone, however, who made a case that it was time for him to go.  i’ve long felt that way, but i can definitely understand the idea of giving him just one last shot at making things right.  i have to admit i go back and forth about it, depending on whether i’ve had my coffee in the morning.
    but, imho, whether joe keeps his job is totally separate from any consideration about frank.
    and this is where lots of fans seem to blur the lines.   the idea seems to be that because joe d has screwed up, frank gets a pass.  because joe has screwed up royally, that you cannot or should not judge frank as harshly as one might.  i don’t buy that at all.  i think there is enough evidence, apart from any culpability joe d might have, that frank is just in way over his head.  or at least that he will never bring the kind of qualities an elite franchise should want in their head coach.  
    if a team wants to muddle along and struggle to reach .500 and maybe if they are lucky and stumble upon the right combo of players, he might just, just might not f–k it up and the team might actually win a playoff series or two.
    but it is pretty clear that head coach frank is just not the guy who is going to lead a group, inspire them the way the best head coaches in the league lead and inspire.
    why would any franchise or any fan base be happy with such mediocrity?   why should it be okay for him to be admittedly “mediocre”  and have that be sufficient for frank to keep his job.  
    if i’m gores, i want a damn good coach, one of the best, and if i have to move past a guy who’s proven that he doesn’t fit that description, then i’m going to move on.
    and that is a coaching/lawrence frank issue that has nothing to do with whether joe d is going to continue to f–k up or if joe d has finally turned the corner again and banished his evil twin. 

    • Apr 18, 20135:23 pm
      by G


      Who’s confused? Frank was bad this year, Dumars showed signs of improving… Plus at least Dumars has a history of making good moves, even if it’s been a while.

      • Apr 19, 201310:21 am
        by DG


        Agreed, and I don’t think his moves this year have been necessarily bad.  I do think he believed more in this team than they did themselves in trading away the draft pick for dumping Gordon.  But I think his moves have laid a solid for growth.

        As a GM you’re going to have good and bad moves, unless you don’t make any moves, which in itself is bad.  Even Jerry West did.  The question is how you recover and for a long time I think recovery was blocked by Karen Davidson. 

      • Apr 19, 20134:29 pm
        by I HATE FRANK


        Scary part about Dumars is he has been lucky with drafts, but I said it before dumars is very good at trades… and believe once he gets rid of this clean cut Pistons team image he be so restricted …BTW; do not sign josh smith 

  • Apr 18, 20135:32 pm
    by bob


    Oh how are argued how Frank would be a terrible coach choice 2 years ago…..    

  • Apr 18, 20135:36 pm
    by frankie d


    “It’s also easy to feel for Frank when it comes to the Pistons teams he coached. It’s not his fault he had an abbreviated training camp before his first season, coached five rookies this year and had his second season interrupted by a trade that sent away Detroit’s top wing player and unbalanced the roster. His Pistons tenure ended early, not because he didn’t work hard enough or didn’t understand the game well enough, but because he lacked the players necessary to win big. That’s unfortunate.
    But regardless of his excuses, justified or not, Frank once again failed to inspire the decision maker in charge of his future. And now Frank is cut once again, fired from what very well could be his last NBA head-coaching job.”

    i call that confused.  every head coach in the league has those concerns, and often many more, to deal with. 
    so what.  he’s being paid 4 million per because he supposedly has the ability to coach an nba franchise.  and again, those things are simply part of the territory.  every coach has to  balance what he is trying to do with the gm’s vision.  the better coaches do the best job of balancing those issues.
    and even assuming that frank had an unusually high number of problems  to deal with – which i don’t buy – that fact still has nothing to do with whether he had his team, his roster of players, prepared to play.

    • Apr 19, 20138:56 am
      by G


      That doesn’t sound like confused to me. It sounds like “Frank came into a crappy situation, had a bit of bad luck, and did a crappy job of dealing with it.”

      Why is it hard to believe that Frank had more than the usual number of problems to deal with? This was a team that fought against its last 3 coaches, including an out-and-out mutiny against the last. Was there another team that featured 5 rookies on its roster? I think no. There was no player leadership, very little talent, and he had significant injuries to 2 of his best 4 players. All teams deal with a couple of those things, but rarely do all of them happen to one team.

      Add in the fact that the roster was built on expiring contracts and it’s clear that wins became secondary to cap space. I still think he did a poor job of coaching what he had, but he basically had a hand tied behind his back both seasons.

      • Apr 20, 20132:15 pm
        by frankie d


        “Frank came into a crappy situation, had a bit of bad luck, and did a crappy job of dealing with it.”

        so….the guy who admittedly did a crappy job – for two years – is supposed to keep his job?
        or it is somehow not his fault that he did a crappy job?
        sorry, the posting appears hopelessly contradictory and confused.
        at one point, there is reference to his not having players, and an inference that his excuses are justified…the general tone is that, yes, he didn’t do his job, but then again, if things had been different, maybe he could have done his job.
        again, my view is that frank’s performance can and should be considered completely differently from any of those considerations.
        if frank had established an identity, if one could say that the team came out and worked hard for 82 games a year, if they fought each and every game, then his “excuses” might have merit.
        but none of that stuff is true.
        after two years, the team still has no identity, they went through long stretches where they seemed to lay down and give up, and it was clear that they did not fight for every game throughout the year.
        (and pistons’ fans know what it looks like when not-very-talented teams claw and scratch and give it their all.  just go back and look at carlisle’s pistons.  those teams, which were no more talented than these pistons, imho, fought each and every game down to the wire.     these pistons bore no resemblence to that team of overachievers.)
        he deserved his fate.  end of story.    

        • Apr 22, 20138:20 am
          by G


          Where did I say he should keep his job?

          Just trying to present a fuller story than just “Frank SUX”… The guy ran into a ton of bad luck, the team was built to shed salary this summer (not to win), and he did a poor job. 2 of those things were out of his control, important to remember before we start throwing him under the bus and blaming the entire season on Frank. 

  • Apr 18, 20135:55 pm
    by Fennis23


    Frankie D, I agree completely. There is little doubt that Joe D has screwed up, but even less doubt that he has the capacity to piece together a championship team. I haven’t heard anyone claim that Frank has the capacity to be a championship level coach. 

    The other thin that people often fail to consider re Dumars is that 

  • Apr 18, 20135:58 pm
    by Fennis


    It’s much harder to find a proven and unemployed GM that it is to find a proven, competent coach. For this reason alone firing Joe would be a very risky move.

    • Apr 18, 20135:59 pm
      by Mark


      Well there are 16 other GMs with their team in the playoffs right now, so its not as hard you think.

      • Apr 18, 20136:09 pm
        by Desolation Row


        “unemployed”… I doubt Sam Presti is leaving OKC for Detroit any time soon

        • Apr 18, 20136:26 pm
          by Mark


          Point was those 16 teams had no problem finding a competent GM. Its delusional to think Dumars is the only person in the world capable of making the Pistons a good team again.

          • Apr 18, 20139:18 pm
            by Anon

            Joe Dumars was once regarded as one of the best GMs in the NBA. Now he made a coupe of mistakes, but he has done a good job since then. Other than Darko (Who was a consensus #2 pick, and some even argued taking him over Lebron… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U65T2x2oxo ) and that terrible Gordon-Villanueva free agency, Dumars has still done a very good job drafting overall (Drummond, Monroe, Knight, Stuckey, Afflalo, Jerebko, Singler… all very good picks for their position).  At the end of the day I don’t think any other GM could do a better job, and Joe is a living Piston legend who has been with the organization for 30 years who clearly has nothing but the organization’s best interests in mind. This team is one very good perimeter player and a couple years away from contending. Have patience… worst case scenario (actually a great scenario) we have another horrible season next year get one of the potentially great players in the draft and we are set, or we play well get a 7th or 8th seed and suddenly no one thinks Joe is terrible. 

          • Apr 18, 201310:13 pm
            by oats

            Things are not quite so good for Dumars as you are suggesting. Austin Daye over Ty Lawson and several other players was a mistake. Brandon Knight over Kawhi Leonard was a mistake, and I thought so on draft day. There’s also the draft where he took the insomniac. It’s hard to give him too much flack for second round picks, but he traded out of the first round that year and took 3 second round picks with none of them making the team. He found an interesting piece in Deron Washington, then he gave Washington a guaranteed deal when it wasn’t necessary and ended up cutting him in order to roll with Chucky Atkins. That’s bad.
            He dumped Carlos Delfino, Amir Johnson, and Afflalo for no good reason. Afflalo was actually moved in order to get that insomniac off the roster and to allow us to get BG and CV. The BG signing came after the trade of Billups, which seems to obviously have been a mistake. He also extended Rip earlier in that year, and that contract was so bad that the team is still paying for it. Literally, they are paying him $6 million while he is in Chicago this year. He also overpaid Prince, Stuckey, and Jerebko right after Gores took control of the team. In order to move BG he had to give up what looks to be a 1st round draft pick in a stacked draft next year, and the reward for that move is cap space in this weak free agent class. He might get something out of that move, but it very easily might go down as a huge mistake.
            Dumars has done some positive things too, don’t get me wrong. That said, the justification for firing him does exist.

          • Apr 19, 20132:17 am
            by Desolation Row

            Ah, my bad. I agree with you.

          • Apr 19, 201310:49 am
            by Huddy

            @Mark 16 teams having GMs in the playoffs doesn’t prove anything.  16 teams make the playoffs..because thats the rules, its not like less would make the playoffs if there weren’t that many competent GMs.
            The problem with a GM change at this point in the year is that It is possible that there is a better GM in the world, but it is very very unlikely there is a guy who has been following the Pistons all year, monitoring their needs, exploring trade options with other teams, scouting this years draft prospects, calculating possible free agent moves based on the Piston’s salary situation…that is a lot to jump into so we could be substituting a better GM that is less informed, which could be just shaky.

    • Apr 18, 20136:28 pm
      by oats


      That seems like an unfair criteria to set before firing Dumars. It shouldn’t take a selection of “proven” guys. Dumars should be fired if his work is not up to snuff. There are tons of smart basketball guys working in the league, and one of them is going to be a good GM. It would take work to find that guy, but an unwillingness to do that work is not a good excuse to keep Dumars if his evaluation is that he isn’t doing his job well. I’m not a Dumars has to go guy, but I’d say his performance is poor enough to justify firing him.
      It should also be noted that Steve Kerr is unemployed. Kerr did a decent job considering that he was under a mandate from his owner to dump salary. Right now there is at least one reasonably strong candidate right now. Phil Jackson is supposedly looking for a GM job, and it makes sense to give him a go at the job if he wants it even if he isn’t a proven GM. I’d also be interested in trying to find an up and comer. San Antonio, OKC, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Houston, Indiana, Memphis, Golden State, and Miami all seem to have some smart guys working for them. I’d bet someone working for one of those teams would be a pretty strong candidate. Obviously Detroit wouldn’t get their top guy, but there has to be a worthwhile GM candidate working in at least one of those front offices. There are potential options for a new GM, there always is.

  • Apr 18, 20136:45 pm
    by George


    You know, there is a chance Lionel Hollins may be available this offseason if his contract talks fall apart, which actually seems realistic.

    Back to the firing though, I hope JoeD is the next to go.  It is pretty impressive for him to get away with averaging a new coach every two years, as well as all his blunders via free agency and re-signings.  I find it amazing how many diehards refuse to come to the realization that he lost his touch.  I know he had a hell of a career as a player, but he has officially run out of chances to make our team a winner.

    On another note, our team needs to really embrace the analytics movement in the league.  It may have been on Grantland, I forget, but there was an article about player tracking technology called SportVu, which many of the forward thinking league teams invest in (OKC, MEM, HOU, etc).  Unless you have a guy like Lebron or Durant, franchises have to work hard to build cohesive, deep units, and tool like SportVu help in that process.  JoeD seems to be old school in how he evaluated players, maybe from his years knowing Will Robinson, who knows.

    • Apr 18, 20137:55 pm
      by Lorenzo


      I have to seriously disagree on the analytics bit of your comment. EVERY TEAM in the league has embraced advanced analytics in one form or another over the past decade, so suggesting “only forward thinking teams” invest in such tools is false (SportsVu or otherwise). It is a tool among many that teams use but it is not the sole purveyor of success; in fact the Grantland article you are referring to, I believe, highlighted the extensive development of the system by the Toronto Raptors of all teams, hardly the valedictorian of the NBA. While Daryl Morey has made the use of it famous–his team is hardly walking over the league competition either. 

      Which brings me to your point of Joe Dumars not embracing analytics. Advanced analytics and “forward thinking” were the ‘brains’ behind the free agent signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva; according to analytics those two guys were supposed to tear it up for us. In the end all they did was tear a new one in our salary cap. Analytics have a use, every team  in the league has figured that out, including ours. It also has it’s limitations which we have found out very painfully. Don’t put too much or too little stock into it, just another tool in everyone’s tool box.

      • Apr 18, 20138:14 pm
        by George


        What are you talking about with guys like Villy and Gordon’s contracts being the product of good analytics? I live in Chicago and they didn’t shed a tear when Gordon his insane deal with us. He literally bought streaky shooting and nothing else in a pg’s body. The knock on Villy was he was playing for a contact and that he settled for jumpers. Both guys showed jack shit in shoeing a well rounded team oriented game. There were at least a couple articles on SportVu, not just one in Grantland, but you were right in that about 2/5th of the league uses it. Most(not all) of those teams happen to be playoff teams. Maybe I should have used the phrase “playoff team” instead of “forward thinking”.

        Anyways Lorenzo, I can only assume you are a Joe Dumars apologist. I just hope you realize that most fans of other teams think JoeD’s time has long passed.

        • Apr 18, 20138:45 pm
          by Lorenzo


          Save the scouting report. I was simply referring to the prevalent thinking in league circles ,as well as that of Pistons “insiders”, that one of the strong reasons the Pistons were inclined to give Gordon and Charlie V large contracts was based on glowing predictive values ascertained via advanced analytics. That’s what I was referring to, perhaps you mistook it for something else. And don’t worry you’er not the only who lives in Chicago, I’m well aware of how Gordon was and is thought of, none the less thanks for your version.

          As far as the analytics themselves are concerned a number of teams use them to differing extent; how far this tool dictates organizational structure and decision making is anyone’s guess. Hence it’s callous to make too direct of a connection of organizational success with that of advanced statistics, the Raptors and Pistons should be prime examples of this cautionary tale.

          As far as Joe Dumars… you are free to assume as you wish. I only brought him up in the context of advanced analytics. Other than that I will take comfort in knowing that you can speak for “most fans of other teams.”


          • Apr 18, 20139:52 pm
            by oats

            Advanced stats don’t like those guys by and large. Advanced stats absolutely hate big men that don’t rebound. They are kinder to Gordon, but he turns it over relatively often and any attempt to quantify defense hates him. In fact, advanced stats suggest he is a neutral player because his defense is as bad as his offense is good. That seems to be a pretty spot on assessment if you ask me. CV’s defense was similarly problematic. Maybe they used advanced stats to justify those moves and I can come up with the basic argument for them. Simply put, their shooting numbers are solid. But the only way advanced stats like those guys is if you only look at their shooting numbers. Other metrics say they were over rated and if the team was properly using advanced stats they would have most likely came to that conclusion. Using them poorly is not a particularly good way of defending the stance that the team has been using advanced stats for awhile. 

          • Apr 18, 201311:06 pm
            by Lorenzo

            I think that is a very sweeping statement and you have to be careful with that. None the less, as you have suggested, while the numbers are raw, metrics and advance analytic are elastic entities. There is no universal way by which everyone process the data that is harvested, hence why the 25 teams or so that do employ personnel to manage this enormous amount of information and guard their developed methodologies dutifully. In principle metrics can say whatever you want them to say.

            Which was precisely my point to the OP; by underscoring the poor results of advanced analytics in the Gordon and Charlie V transactions it was not my intention to highlighting “the stance that the team has been using advanced stats for awhile.” Instead the intention was to highlight the particular variability inherent in a statistical analysis methodology very much in it’s infancy; this being it’s Achilles heel. Frankly no team has mastered the craft of advanced analytics  and no one holds the “golden formula” which would call a halt to endless research and conferences in regards to it.  Hence why it is ridiculous to criticize this organization or any other league franchise in it’s failure to master it.    

          • Apr 18, 201311:30 pm
            by oats

            I agree there is a danger to them, and they can be problematic. Some people focus too much on the wrong thing, and sometimes stats can lead to information overload. That said, the original point still seems pretty solid. During the CV and BG signings the team didn’t have a guy who’s job it was to actually go over advanced stats. If they did it seems reasonably they would have come across the flaws that I referenced. They only hired someone to do that full time after Gores purchased the team. That’s not exactly embracing advanced stats in the Dumars era. I suspect that it was Gores who pushed the team in that direction instead of Dumars. Gores made comments about how advanced stats are similar to the analysis that he uses in his equity firm, and he wanted to make the use of all the information at hand. It seems fair to criticize how slowly the team, and Dumars in particular, has been at embracing the new analytical models. I mean, most teams have a bunch of guys that are full time stats guys, and as far as we know Detroit has only one dedicated stats guy. They probably have other guys in the team that spend some time with it, but they aren’t full time stats analytics guys.

          • Apr 19, 201312:10 am
            by Lorenzo

            That’s not entirely true regarding the non use of advanced stats in the Gordon and Charlie V transactions. Teams tend to not disclose or discuss the personnel/make up of these departments, or how much resource ,if any, they expend on such organizational structures. Even if the Pistons did formally acknowledge and formed an in house analytics team in the past three years, outside consultancy has long been used by a large number of teams well before in house development, including the Pistons. They had the relevant metric information during those transactions and have had for all major player/personnel transaction since. You may not agree with the analysis of another statistician and that’s fair….this is the reason the field is so elastic. Compile this fact with a field in it’s infancy that evolves daily with guarded rapport among competing enthusiasts and frankly it is easy to see why it has been such a slow process for a number of teams to develop in-house analytics structures. 

          • Apr 19, 20131:12 am
            by oats

            I don’t see your point here. Detroit had no full time statistician’s in it’s employ. Yeah, team’s outsource that stuff, but I can come up with exactly zero reports of Detroit doing that a lot. I also can’t think of a single instance of advanced stats being used by the Pistons to justify the CV and BG signings. Even more than that, one of the more common critiques levied against advanced stats is that they tend to over value rebounding. Unless Detroit is the only team whose metrics undervalued rebounding it is really hard to argue that advanced stats were a big part of those signings. What’s more, the lack of information suggesting Detroit relied on advanced stats makes it logical to say the team wasn’t using them enough. It seems obvious they used them some, but that doesn’t mean they fully embraced that information or highly valued it. Several of Detroit’s moves suggest the opposite. Not recognizing Afflalo or Delfino were too good to dump, giving up on Amir so early, over valuing Stuckey and Prince, and signing a big man who can’t rebound in CV all suggest that Detroit wasn’t using advanced metrics particularly well. I guess it’s vaguely possible that they did embrace them but were incompetent, but that seems far less likely than thinking that the team just wasn’t putting enough faith in the metrics that were given.
            This isn’t just me disagreeing with what the advanced stats guys were saying, I honestly don’t think that’s the case. The large number of metrics that disagreed with all of those decisions combined with Detroit’s reluctance to hire statistics guys strongly suggests the team just wasn’t making full use of those stats. It seems likely that Dumars was skeptical of the information being given, and I don’t particularly blame him for that. When that information first started trickling out it was contradicting a lot of long held beliefs about the game, and while Dumars showed signs of buying in to some of that information, he seems to also have been slow buying in to the whole thing. It’s fair to question how much he listens to it even now, and it’s especially fair to say the team wasn’t relying that heavily on advanced stats when Villanueva was signed.

          • Apr 19, 20139:10 am
            by G

            I think Detroit was trailing in the area of advanced-stat scouting. They didn’t bring in a full-time stat guy until they hired Frank. Advanced stats, sabermetrics, whatever… wouldn’t have liked Charlie V or Gordon too much. The Pistons paid for Villanueva’s banner year, and you never want to do that. Even then, all he gave you was offense. The whole point of sabermetrics is to identify players that are undervalued because they give you quality production that doesn’t show up in traditional stats. Neither Charlie V nor BG qualify.

    • Apr 18, 20138:08 pm
      by CityofKlompton


      The Pistons have had a bad string of short term coaches since Joe was playing for the team. The last coach to last longer than three years was Chuck Daly.  It is an organizational issue. Not strictly a Dumars issue.

  • Apr 18, 20137:18 pm
    by Lorenzo


    A number of teams will be looking for new head coaches this off-season…could be as high as six. The Pistons will have to be aggressive, which means as much as I would like to have Hollins, the team doesn’t have the luxury to wait. I would love for them to go aggressively after Nate McMillan, he would be a great fit with what we have and where we are as a team.

    • Apr 18, 201310:42 pm
      by C-Foe


         Have to agree with Lorenzo, Nate McMillan would be a good fit as coach of the Pistons.  I thought he did a good job in Portland with the talent they had there.  I also think that Byron Scott would be a good candidate too.   I can’t believe Dan Gilbert fired him and is now trying to bring Mike Brown back.
         Also someone please tell me that Gores told Brian Hill to stay in New Jersey after the game was over.  

      • Apr 19, 20139:12 am
        by G


        Byron Scott sucks balls, that’s why he was fired. Mike Brown is an ok coach, not great, but he’s yards better than Scott.

        • Apr 19, 20138:17 pm
          by C-Foe


          @G,  Gotta disagree with you there.  In Cleveland, Mike Brown was able to win but he was way to dependent on LeBron.  Cleveland lost against Orlando, when LeBron quit he couldn’t adjust because the offense was built around him and defensively had no answer for Turkoglu.   He made Stan Van Gundy look good.  We really should have beat Cleveland in the 2007 ECFs but I watched as Flip Saunders made no adjustments to counter what Cleveland was doing.  Saunders made Mike Brown look good, but that’s besides the point.    In Los Angeles, they were calling for Mike Brown to be fired if he lost in the first round of a strike shortened season.  He lucked up and beat Denver and barely made it to the second round.  Was handed playoff caliber team and still was fired.  I’ll take Mike Brown as an assistant coach but nothing more. 
              Byron Scott was fired in Cleveland because Dan Gilbert really doesn’t know what he’s doing (and I hope I’m not saying the same thing about Gores in 3 years).   He picked up Scott’s extension for ’13-’14 and then fires him later.   Gilbert lived off of LeBron’s success and is hoping to do the same with Kyrie Irving.  Should Scott have done better a coaching job?  Sure, but Cleveland’s roster is an even bigger mess than ours thanks to Dan and his ability to pickup players like Luke Walton.   I’ve tried to get others on this board to realize, just because you get the #1 pick or a high draft pick does not mean instant success or turnaround for the franchise.  

          • Apr 22, 20138:16 am
            by G

            Scott is basically Mike Brown’s equal offensively (not a compliment) but defensively Brown is WAY better. SVG is just a good coach, he’d look good against almost anyone in the league. If you were putting all the coaches in the NBA in tiers, SVG would be in one of the top 2 tiers (depending on how small you made the top tier), Mike Brown would probably be a middle-tier coach, and Byron Scott a bottom tier guy.

  • Apr 18, 20137:23 pm
    by Travis


    Detroit has a stocked front office staff, which Gores recognizes. Behind the scenes and to the ignorance of most fans, Joe D has groomed at least 1 GM and 2 assistant GM’s. 

    For those of you that like to constantly complain that Joe Dumars “got lucky” in the last 3 drafts, because teams passed on Monroe, Drummond and to an extent Knight, you conveniently like to forget that those teams have General Managers, scouts, and staff that evaulated the talent in each of those drafts and passed on Monroe and Drummond. Where as Dumars, George David, and previously, Scott Perry & Tony Ronzone all scouted the same talent in those drafts and wisely put Drummond and Monroe higher on the Pistons draft chart. The same goes for Singler, Middleton, and Jerbreko – Daye was a poor choice, but wasn’t a Milicic disaster. Would you want those GM and staff as the Pistons front office staff? Cough…Colangelo..cough.

    If you replace Dumars with an external candidate, I guarantee that George David goes to the next team that hires Dumars. And Dumars wouldn’t have to wait long before his phone rings if Gores ever lets him go. Do Piston Powered commentators honestly believe that David Checketts is the answer? The guy from NY who gave the knod to Lawerence Frank, after his coaching candidate, Patrick Ewing didn’t make it to the final interview. Do you trust him more than Joe D?

    Im curious on how much hate “Trader Jack” would have gotten on this board in the early 90′s when he chose to make the Pistons a younger team by letting Microwave and Buddah walk. Oh, and he traded away first-round picks and drafted duds.  

    • Apr 18, 20137:58 pm
      by Lorenzo


      Well said.

    • Apr 18, 20139:56 pm
      by oats


      Defending Dumars by saying he isn’t as incompetent as guys on other teams is not a particularly strong argument. They won’t be hiring any of those guys you are highlighting as being bad, so I don’t get the argument here.
      By the way, I’ve yet to see anyone suggest Checketts should get the GM job. I don’t even know what that argument is based on.

      • Apr 18, 201310:42 pm
        by Travis


        @Oats – But it’s fair game to compare him to more successful General Managers. 

        Double standard much?

        Defend against all of the points I made, instead of creating a semantic response. 

        • Apr 18, 201310:51 pm
          by oats


          Considering the goal is to get a good one, yes it is a fair comparison. Being not terrible shouldn’t justify keeping him on.
          As for responding to all your points, no, I won’t. I like to pick at weak points, the rest of your points are pretty valid. He has developed some other strong front office guys, and that is positive for him. The Trader Jack point was pretty spot on, every GM has things to pick apart. Dumars is not a disaster by any means, and frankly I don’t have a dog in this fight. His tenure has enough things to justify firing him, but also enough to justify keeping him. I’m pretty indifferent on whether Dumars stays or leaves. I just don’t like weak arguments. Calling him better than some of the terrible GMs is not a good point, and the Dave Checketts straw man argument is a downright awful point. That’s what I’m objecting to, not the general message but the points being made.

        • Apr 18, 201311:00 pm
          by oats


          Also, how was that a semantic response? The substance of your argument was at least Dumars didn’t make the same kind of mistakes as these other guys. That’s what I was arguing against, the idea that it’s Dumars or someone that has made the mistakes that allowed Dumars to capitalize in the draft. That’s isn’t the decision being made, and I pointed that out. That isn’t a semantic response, it is a response to the actual substance of the argument and not just quibbling over word choice.

  • Apr 18, 20137:26 pm
    by Travis


    Tony Ronzone left in 2010, but was the Piston’s International Scout. He’s now an assistant GM for Minnesota. 

  • Apr 18, 20137:48 pm
    by Anthony J


    I look at Utah and a congratulate them. Did they make the playoffs? No but they did fight till the very last game for a playoff spot. The Jazz fans should be very proud of their team for fighting hard to keep a playoff spot. That’s the way I believe Detroit should be. I’m sure most people expected us to finish atleast 9th in the east this season which is good enough for me as long as this team actually fought for a playoff spot. You look at Utah and the roster is not that appealing besides their plethora of bigs and Mo Williams but they still looked like a pretty decent-good team. I don’t see why the Pistons can’t be the same way…

    • Apr 18, 20138:21 pm
      by Lorenzo


      I agree we should be further along but in fairness I think you are underselling Utah’s roster. Jefferson for example is an All-Star caliber player and much further along and polished than any of our bigs so far. Same came could be said of Millsap minus the All-Star. Favors and Kanter have as high a ceiling as any of our young bigs… yet they are coming off the bench. Even with their back court being weak I think you would be hard pressed to find a spot 1-5 + bench where we are outright better than the Jazz. They have the talent and depth we yet don’t possess, our squad isn’t that good yet.

  • Apr 18, 20137:56 pm
    by Bob


    Stan Van Gundy should be our number 1 target…  Back in the day, he developed a big similar to Drummond by the name of Dwight Howard.

  • Apr 18, 20138:37 pm
    by Trent


    This is great timing to attract a proven coach. We have a really good looking young roster, heaps of cap space and another top 10 pick. K-Mid showed some so did JJ, two good role players, IMO Will should be kept. He has a great relationship with our youngs and is a more than capable back up. 

    Is there any point in not amnestying CV? it is (from my knowledge) the last time we can use and he is the only candidate. It didnt work, lets cut him loose or try and work out a draft day trade. 

  • Apr 19, 201312:35 am
    by Geoff


    Alright. Frank is fired, but he didn’t do as badly as people are harping on.  Let’s be rational about this team – it’s young.  In terms of the future, are there more ‘pieces to the puzzle’ now then last year?  Yes.  I can say that Monroe, Drummond, Brandon, and Singler are definetly the future.  Despite Gore’s douchery, this young team wasn’t likely to make the playoffs.  The young players need to develop and learn to play as a team.  I can not say that these guys were uninspired or that the approach Frank set for Drummond was wrong.  Nor did I feel like Frank’s rotations were stupid.  Under Frank, I believe this is a contending team in 2 years with the following happening 1) young players maturing, another stellar draft pick, all that cap space for perhaps two impact free agents.   Keep in mind that we certainly did not need to make the playoffs this year (that would have been like shooting ourselves in the foot).  All of that can still happen, but Frank should have had another year to mold his team with whatever draft pick we select.  Gore is going to prove to be a terrifically bad owner.     

  • Apr 19, 201312:43 am
    by frankie d


    for one last time: detroit fans should pray that nate mcmillan does not get the detroit job.
    he is an excellent coach and i thought he would have been the correct hire for the team when they hired flip saunders, but nate is a guy who does not do well with young teams.
    in fact, he got fired in portland because he would not play the young guys, but instead kept trotting out the old vets.
    now, he does very well with those old guys and he is the kind of coach who could get a mediocre team – similar to the last couple of pistons’ teams – to a 7th or 8th seed, just because he’ll have his system in place and guys will either play his system or they won’t play.
    ( a couple of years ago, he lost an insane number of games to injuries, the year oden and roy and a bunch of other guys went down, and the team still made the playoffs.  the blazers are my second team, and i watch almost all of their games.  it was a great coaching job, and it makes the excuses people trot out for frank seem ridiculous, by comparison.)
    love nate as a coach, but just not as the coach of a young pistons’ team that should still be seeking to develop its young core over and above anything else.
    again, i’m not saying nate is not a very good coach – he is a very good coach – but he is just not the right guy for this job.  unfortunately.

    • Apr 19, 20132:18 am
      by Desolation Row


      This is a valid point, I remember that being a point of contention in Portland.

      • Apr 19, 20139:41 am
        by G


        Among stupid fans, maybe. He had a super-weak bench, and those young players the fans were crying for him to play? That would be Nolan Smith (7.15 PER) and Elliot Williams, who was behind Wesley Matthews & starting to play more before he tore his Achilles.

        A more legit criticism of McMillan would be the predictability of his offense. He’s only won 1 playoff series, largely due to the fact that he was out-coached. His offense became stagnant and wasn’t able to hold up in a 7-game series. 

        • Apr 19, 20131:51 pm
          by frankie d


          no, among fans who’ve watched the blazers for a long time, especially during mcmillan’s time with the club.
          let me repeat…i think mcmillan is a very good coach.  with the right club, i think he would be an excellent hire.  in fact, i always have felt that joe d blew it, in a huge way, when he did not more aggressively pursue mcmillan back when he ultimately hired flip saunders.  it is possible that mcmillan would have done exactly what he did – move 180 miles south to portland from seattle and take paul allen’s millions to coach portland -but i always felt that joe d had decided to go with a  more offensive-minded coach – saunders – instead of someone who would have seamlessly carried on the type of defense-first team larry brown had constructed.  at that point, joe had pick of the litter, as far as nba coaches were concerned.  everyone knew it was a team very close to a title or at the very least, another legitimate run at a title.
          but mcmilllan is definitely very typical of most nba coaches in that he will always give priority to and preference to predictable vets over young players who will definitely not be quite as accomplished and as predictable.
          while nate gets credit for helping to develop aldridge and roy, there were lots of other young players who came and went over nate’s tenure as coach, without getting a legit shot at PT.  and other guys, like batum, who chafed under his rigidity.
          the steve blake/jerrod bayless situation was probably the best illustration of that dynamic.
          blake’s a nice player and someone who is hard not to like.  however, there was no question that bayless, despite his problems – he is a stuckey-like combo guard who gets tunnelvision on his own shot –  offered a much larger upside for the team, if given the chance to play regularly.
          while he got ok minutes under nate, nate always gave priority to blake.  blake is blake, your typical nondescript, average/less than average nba rotation guard.  bayless had the potential to be a guy who impacted a game in a much greater way.  often he did, but just as often, he’d do something dumb and he’d go in and out of nate’s doghouse.  that went on until they got rid of him.
          another young guy was handled in a typical nate fashion.
          armon johnson came onto the team during his rookie season training camp and solidified a rotation spot as the backup point guard.  he seemed like a great guy to play in nate’s system: a very solid defender with a chance to grow as a point guard.  but about 17 games into that first year, he had a high turnover game – after a few games where he admittedly had turnover problems – and nate buried him for good and for all intents and purposes, his career as a blazer was over.
          even batum was hamstrung by nate.  nate essentially used batum as a corner 3 point shooter.  despite the fact that he had a wide range of skills, nate never trusted him to do anything more.  it is no surprise that in his first full year, post-nate, batum has blossomed in many ways and expanded his game.  for instance, his assists have gone from about 1.5 up to 5 a game.   batum is sort of the anti-aldridge in that he’s refused to simply limit his game to one or two things and concentrate on those to the exclusion of developing other parts of his game.
          at one point, portland was loaded with young, promising players.  slowly but surely management essentially acquiesced  to nate’s preferences and shipped out most of those young players in trades for vets as they made a run at playoff success.  the result is the problem that you see at this point, a roster with a few excellent parts and no depth.  
          nate has zero patience with young guys who make mistakes, and if they do make mistakes, he is absolutely unforgiving.
          detroit needs to commit to its  young players and go forward, sink or swim with those young guys.  i’d hate to see nate come here, and because dumars is really geared in that same direction, began to drift back to a rent-a-retread philosophy as they both try to make certain they get a playoff berth next season.  i want the team to take a longer term approach that may take a while longer, but will not result in what is going on in portland.
          and yes, nate’s predictable offense helped sink him in the playoffs.  but more specifically, aldridge’s inability to handle double-teams – he cannot put the ball on the floor and therefore cannot make a simple dribble that would get him out of trouble, and he also panics when hit with that double team – was the biggest problem.  the secret is out on aldridge and when teams have the ability to game plan for him during a series, the huge holes in his game are obvious and easy to exploit.
          take a look at his advanced statistical playoff numbers.  you will see something very revealing.  each playoff series, his numbers are lower than his regular season numbers.  and in his 3 playoff series, his advanced numbers got worse each year.  his first year’s numbers were bad, the second year’s numbers were worse, and the 3rd year’s numbers were horrendous.  
          because teams figured him out and knew exactly how to attack him and take him out of the game.  and by that 3rd playoff series, it was child’s play for the opposing team:  keep him on the perimeter, if he got the ball anywhere near the paint, send a hard double team at him and watch him squirm as he tried to figure out what to do with the ball.
          btw, one of the reasons aldridge enjoyed such success under mcmillan is that he limited his game to the things that he did well: catch and shoot the perimeter jumper and rebound.  while that is obviously good, at least initially, and while it obviously allowed him to get his numbers, his refusal to expand his game – to learn how to better handle the ball on the perimeter, to learn how to actually use footwork in the low post, a skill he is extraordinarily poor at – was what allowed teams to successfully attack him in portland’s halfcourt offense in playoff series.  so it is ironic, in a way…as long as he did what he did well – catch and shoot and rebound – his mistakes were very minimal and he kept on nate’s good side.  but by limiting his game in that way, and by not developing other skills – like handling the ball on the perimeter, which is crucial for any player who is going to play on the perimeter as much as aldridge does – he ensured portland’s playoff problems.
          i’d like to see detroit go the route okc went: get a young coach and let that guy grow with your young team. 
          maybe stan van gundy, who seems like a fairly flexible guy.
          my favorite unkown now, however, remains derek fisher.  in 5 years, he’s going to be a successful head coach – nothing but my prediction – and lots of people will wonder why no one thought to give such an obvious coaching candidate a shot at a job.  
          he’s young, he has the rings, he’s made dramatic and well-known contributions to championship teams, he has huge respect all around the league.  
          enough of the retreads.  and patrick ewing?  please…this is a guy who was supposedly dwight howard’s coach down in orlando.  how’d that work out for them.  ewing as the personal coach for a guy who never developed an offensive game.  what did ewing teach howard all those years?  how to stuff dollar bills into strippers’ thongs?
          nope, i want fisher, and i’d bet that people will ultimately regret it if he’s not given a shot with their team. 

          • Apr 19, 20132:05 pm
            by G

            You’re clearly more familiar with Portland’s situation than I am, but you aren’t blowing me away with these amazing talents McMillan was keeping on the bench.

            I don’t see Derek Fisher as a quality head coach, I think Billups will be MUCH better whenever he’s ready. The guy the Pistons should target is Mike Budenholzer, Popovich’s assistant. He’s had to step in for Pop a number of times and there was really no drop off at all. In those few games he’s handled substitutions and play calling better than anyone here has since LB left town. He looks legit.

            I think Fisher’s destiny is to be a Brian Shaw-type assistant, “always a bridesmaid”… Just a hunch.

          • Apr 19, 20132:54 pm
            by frankie d

            i’ve lived in portland or seattle since ’01.
            i lived in seattle during most of nate’s run there.  i’d been in portland a couple of years when nate moved down here.  i’m extremely familiar with nate mcmillan as a coach.  
            again, i really, really like nate as a coach and i have no doubt that he’d come in and whip the team into shape.  the issue, imho, is at what cost.  i think that the team would make a dramatic u-turn away from youth and rebuilding, to a vet-oriented team.  short term, i think it would be a dramatic step forward,  and who knows, maybe that would work out in the long run.  i’d rather take my chances with the young guys for a couple of years more, then integrate vets into that young core.
            don’t know anything about budenholzer, so cannot say anything about his capabilities.  i have to say, however, that simply being an assistant to the best coach of the last 15 years or so doesn’t mean you can coach.  he might be another pop…or another chuck daly or thibedeau.  or another frank.
            never have been impressed by shaw.  he was a mediocre, not very bright player.  in fact, he did lots of dumb stuff and he should have been a much better player.  he was big, had a good handle and a decent ability to run an offense.  but instead of concentrating on what he did well – act as a big point guard who could distribute – he seemed to think he was a shooter and scorer, which he was actually terrible at.  imho, if a player cannot manage his own game during his career, it is tough to imagine how he is going to coach 15 other guys.
            fisher, however, is a guy who got the most out of not very much talent.  he was short, not too quick, and just a decent, not great, ballhandler.  regardless, he was a crucial player on a bunch of title teams.  while shaw did not live  up to his talents, fisher overachieved.
            and if you listen to him talk, he has a rare presence.
            i’ve been on the west coast for most of his career and watched scores of laker games and seen tons of post game interviews. (the ones that the rest of the country doesnt see because they happen too late at night.) fisher is always the guy reporters go to, post game to talk to.  he is, without a doubt, the most impressive nba player i’ve seen on a regular basis.
            on a team with kobe bryant, he was the team’s acknowledged leader.  phil jackson publicly acknowledged that fact.
            brian shaw has been gravy-training on jackson’s coattails all these years.  he’s done jack to indicate he’d be a successful leader of a team.
            fisher, on the other hand, has repeated shown that he is that guy.
            and obviously other teams think so, also.
            he can’t play anymore.  but why do you think that dallas and OKC  and the lakers have scrambled to get the guy on their roster?  because he is a coach on the floor and the locker room.  
            i am just curious as to what quality/qualities you think he lacks and what qualities you think chauncey has that will make him a better coach?
            i think chauncey has the potential to be a good coach.  the one thing i would be concerned with, however, is his tendency to be a politician, everything to everyone.  that is why he is so well-liked around the league.  well, a good head coach cannot always make everyone happy.  sometimes they do stuff that is going to piss people off.  i wonder if chauncey has it in him to make those tough decisions or whether he will always try to find a comfortable middle ground – like our wonderful president – a tendency that can be fatal as an nba head coach. 
            fisher, on the other hand, has a hard edge, a willingness to say tough things and step on other’s toes.  that quality, and his ability to still maintain respect, is one of his most admirable qualities. 

          • Apr 19, 20133:06 pm
            by frankie d

            Apparently NBA general managers disagree with your assessment of fisher.  this from the lakers’ blog on the LA Times:

            “His teammates embrace him. His coaches respect him. And whether you appreciate his expereince and clutch shots or criticize his slowing speed, most Laker fans recognize the leadership qualities Derek Fisher brings.
            That’s why it’s hardly a surprise the NBA.com general managers poll featured Fisher as the active player that would make the best head coach someday. …
            But Lakers Coach Mike Brown sounds totally fine with Fisher’s lack of interest.
            “I think they’re wrong,” Brown said with a smile. “I don’t think he’d make a good coach. I say that because I still want to coach and I don’t want him taking my job.”
            After removing the tongue out of his cheek, Brown went on to say Fisher has the “right presence” to choose any career path.”

            here is the poll:

             Which active player will make the best head coach someday?
            1. Derek Fisher, L.A. Lakers — 25.9%T2. Shane Battier, Miami — 14.8%T2. Chauncey Billups, L.A. Clippers — 14.8%T4. Grant Hill, Phoenix — 7.4%T4. Steve Nash, Phoenix — 7.4%T4. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers — 7.4%

            i just found this poll, but i’ve felt that way for a long time.  I hope detroit takes a hard look at him and that they gamble on him. 

          • Apr 19, 20133:08 pm
            by G

            Mainly thinking about how Fisher handled the lockout – poorly.

            Billups is more of a natural leader than Fisher. Fisher was never the leader on any team he was on. Billups was THE leader on the Pistons, Nuggets, and briefly the Knicks. Now he’s with the Clippers and has taken more of a Derek Fisher-type role. Several stories I’ve read about Billups while he was in Detroit & Denver also suggest he’d be a good coach, whereas I’ve never read anything like that about Fisher.

            About Budenholzer, he handled coaching while Popovich was sick pretty easily. He’s shown an aptitude for handling the intricacies of being an NBA HC like substitutions, play calling, and handling players. Even Pop says Budenholzer knows the playbook better than him. Right now I like Budenholzer a little bit better than SVG, then McMillan third.

          • Apr 19, 20133:21 pm
            by G

            If you got that poll from the LA Times, those results would be extremely biased in Fisher’s favor. Here’s a poll of NBA GM’s done by NBA.com:
            1. Billups 20.7%
            2. Battier 17.2%
            3. Fisher 13.8%
            4. Kidd/Nash 10.3%
            5. Hill/Paul 6.9%

            I agree, Fisher is well liked and has leadership qualities. He was never THE leader though, while Billups managed to be that guy on 3 different teams. Plus, the way Fisher handled the lockout caused it to drag on longer than it should’ve.

          • Apr 19, 20133:35 pm
            by frankie d

            “Fisher was never the leader on any team he was on.”

            phil jackson does not agree with you.  this is jackson speaking publicly about fisher during the 2010-11 season.  and remember, this is a team where kobe bryant has been the best player for what…13…14 years.
            the fact that jackson would acknowledge this fact publicly is huge and has to be regarded with a great deal of credibility, considering how touchy kobe is about such things.

            “Yep, that was Derek Fisher gathering the starters near the end of the first quarter in Game 3, demanding continual effort from them during a timeout.”He’s definitely the spokesman for this team as far as leadership goes,” Jackson said.”

            at this point, i’d prefer a younger, former player. again, don’t know the SA assistant and he might be great.  i do  know fisher however and i think he would be exactly the kind of guy detroit needs.  apparently lots of other nba people agree. 

          • Apr 19, 20134:15 pm
            by G

            Last thing – I think you’ve got it backwards, Fisher is more the politician than Billups. At a crucial moment in Denver JR Smith jacked up one of his patented early in the shot clock threes. Billups turned to Karl and said something to the effect of “Get him off the court”. And then that summer he worked with Smith on his game. His first game with the Nuggets he called a timeout at the end of the game and made Karl draw up an in-bounds so they wouldn’t risk a turnover. 

            Stuff like that is why he’s so respected in the league. Players know when somebody is being fake, and Chauncey isn’t fake. Check the ESPN article from back when the Pistons traded Chauncey to Denver, that’s where I got a lot of those anecdotes.

  • Apr 19, 20137:26 am
    by Robert Bayer


    This is one happy day! From the first I never wanted this loser, L. Frank, hired. Nor Curry! Nor Kuester! Nor Flip Saunders! All feeble and lame without a lot of heart or determination or smarts or the team loyalty needed for to become an outstanding Piston Head Coach. Each time I wanted Laimbeer and each time Joe picked someone he could boss around or would not feel threatened by. Big Mistake: Great NBA Head Coaches have extremely strong wills and are smart and tough, just as Laimbeer is.

    Dear Mr. Gores, it is time for Bill Laimbeer! Someone who understands and played the modern game and was ahead of his time (a big shooting the 3). Someone with championship and leadership experience as a player (2 times) and as a head coach (3 times in 6 seasons!). Someone who always hated losing with a passion and loves the Pistons above all else. He wants this position as far more than anyone else you could hire and will work harder and smarter than anyone you could hire.

    I know the Piston Writers are mostly against him. But they, to a man, were all OK with the past string of failed head coaches. So that proves they did not and do not understand what makes up a good / great head coach. I also half suspect some of these “journalists” (ahem) are still smarting from being burned by snappy retort from Bill after they asked 1 too many stupid questions. Also, they have made their living the past decade by following Joe Dumars’ lead and angling their stories to fit according to the way Joe D sees the world (who doesn’t want a strong head coach and doesn’t want a Piston Big Brother around to soak up any adoration while in Detroit. Truth is, if these same Piston beat writers had had the gumption to report the truth about the Pistons more often rather than protecting Joe Dumars, most likely the Pistons would have avoided some of the dumb movies Dumars has made (such as continually hiring bad head coaches or dumping good players for less than nothing (Afflalo, Billups, Budindger, ect. ).

    Laimbeer was a player who was not blessed with much talent but still became an all star. That is another reason why he will be a great choice to lead the Pistons to the next step: teaching players how to maximize their abilities and to improve their play as individuals and as a team, something he has done or helped others do throughout his basketball career.

    For those who say Laimbeer is too “tough guy-ish” for today’s players, you best recall that Laims coached the WNBA players, women, where Bill was more than congenial and supportive in approach. Really, Laimbeer has only been mentally tough on opponents, making their lives miserable, never his teammates or players, whom he always supported strongly at all times.

    Will be OK with Nate M or the Van Gundy brothers but if you want the best, choose the best. Bill Laimbeer is as ruthless and smart and team-worthy as the very successful head coaches of the Spurs (Pop) or Lakers / Bulls (Jackson) were and are. Go Pistons!

    • Apr 19, 20139:17 am
      by Clint in Flint


      Great post, his only negative is he doesn’t dress as well as Chuck Daly. Nobody looked as good as Chuck. Don’t know who his tailor was but he sure earned his money.
      It is definitely Laimbeer time! 

    • Apr 19, 20132:07 pm
      by Vic


      Yes yEs

  • Apr 19, 201310:44 am
    by DG


    I will say this to my own detriment I’m sure.  A large part of Drummond’s efficiency this year has been that he has played within a tightly defined role.  This is a tribute to both player and coach. The coach didn’t try to use Drummond beyond his present ability and Drummond did not force the issue.  Thus he was a highly efficient player within his role.  Very few rookies have the maturity to function in this way.  Many young players need to learn what a good shot is and thus end up not being a highly efficient player.  It would be hard to dispute that Drummond was the most effective rookie in the league this year if you used efficiency as your criterion.

    But every fan loves a slam dunk and it’s impossible to deny Drummond’s talent.  He is a force to be reckoned with and there is no other Piston that has this attribute.  Greg Monroe does not have his ability to be a dominant force.  Monroe will, in fact, be a beneficiary of Drummond’s ability to dominate in the years to come.

    I am hopeful that the next Pistons coach continues to develop Drummond in a way that will allow him to thrive.  If so, the next decade could become the glory years of Pistons basketball. 

    • Apr 19, 201311:04 am
      by G


      If you’re giving credit to Frank for Drummond’s play (which is a stretch), you HAVE to call Frank out for doing a poor job of getting Monroe ready to play next to Drummond earlier in the season. All we kept hearing from Frank is Drummond can’t start because Monroe isn’t ready to slide over to PF. Was this a surprise, that Monroe might need to move over the the 4? From day one after the draft, Frank should’ve had 3 priorities at the top of his list for off-season workouts.
      1) Work on Knight’s PG skills (remember, this was back when we still weren’t sure if he could play PG or not)
      2) Work on diversifying Monroe’s game to step out of the paint a little
      3) Get Drummond (and the other rooks, really) conditioned to play a full NBA season

      Not sure how much Frank is to blame for the first one, Knight just looks like he’s out of place at PG and I don’t think any amount of coaching will change that much. The other 2 were failures on Frank’s part.

      • Apr 19, 20131:47 pm
        by DG


        1.  Knight is obviously not a point guard.  But who else do you use at that position?  Stuckey.  He’s proven not to be a point guard, too.  Bynum?  You’ve gotta like his effort, but he’s even more in-consistent and has less physical potential than the previous two.  I consider that a roster issue – i.e. more JD’s issue.  I’ve been saying since November that the Pistons need to draft a true PG.  Admittedly I thought it was MCW back in November.  Hell it may still be MCW the way the draft lines up because Burke will be gone and Smart’s not in the draft last I read.

        2.  There were other arguments than Monroe can’t slide to PF.  There was Drummond’s physical conditioning.  There was Bynum had a good rapport with Drummond and they didn’t want to break that up (remember when the Pistons bench sparked the best stretch of the season?).  We now know that it wasn’t Drummond’s lack of a motor that kept him from performing at a high level so much as his conditioning to run all out for 30+ minutes.  Hell Drummond even admitted that after he came back from his injury that he was pacing himself.  No fan wants to hear that a multi-million dollar athlete is not in premium physical conditioning.  

        I hate to break this to you, but I don’t think Monroe is either.  I think that’s where the pre-draft label of lacking a motor that both Monroe and Drummond suffered from factors in.  When they go full out they are beasts to contend with.  But it’s damned hard to go full out for 30+ minutes in the league for 82 games/year and not get injured.

        3.  NBA conditioning does not happen in a few months, and yes I do think that was a priority from the Pistons management staff.  It doesn’t mean the players follow through.  If it was sayings like the “rookie wall” wouldn’t exist.  I also think that physical conditioning is the biggest reason some players make sophomore leaps.  Hopefully Drummond works hard this summer.  If so, he will be a beast next year.

        • Apr 19, 20131:55 pm
          by G


          I was just listing what should’ve been Frank’s top 3 priorities last summer. Agree, Knight isn’t a PG. Not blaming that one on Frank.

          You spend most of the time addressing my 2nd point by making my 3rd point. Ok…

          As far as the conditioning thing goes, Drummond showed signs that this was an issue pretty early on. Also, Singler didn’t appear to have a problem with it, despite the fact that he basically went straight from his Spanish regular season to the Pistons with almost no break.  

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