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Lindsey Hunter asks Suns permission to interview for Pistons’ head coach

Matt Dery of 97.1 The Ticket:

Source: Lindsey Hunter has asked #Suns for permission to interview for #Pistons HC vacancy. It will likely be granted soon.

Hunter was completely overwhelmed in Phoenix, where he was promoted to head coach after Alvin Gentry’s mid-season departure. Hunter obviously didn’t have much time to prepare – he was previously the team’s player development director, not even an assistant coach – so his struggles are somewhat understandable. If someone were to build a case for Hunter, he could claim Hunter would do much better with adequate time to develop and install his system.

But that’s what Michael Curry could do, too.

When the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, Curry couldn’t handle it. Curry spent all offseason developing a plan for the group of players he thought he’d be coaching, and when those players changed, Curry was nearly as overwhelmed as Hunter was. Being an NBA head coach takes more flexibility than that.

His experience in Phoenix – still ongoing until the Suns, who just fired their general manager, fire him – might prepare him to be a head coach again some day, but Hunter isn’t ready now.


  • Apr 25, 20135:45 pm
    by danny


    Let him interview and see how he would assemble the team.  It’s not going to hurt our team by listening to his assessment about how to run our offense and defense.

  • Apr 25, 20136:55 pm
    by frankie d


    ‘When the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, Curry couldn’t handle it. Curry spent all offseason developing a plan for the group of players he thought he’d be coaching, and when those players changed, Curry was nearly as overwhelmed as Hunter was. Being an NBA head coach takes more flexibility than that.”
    so let’s see…
    a rookie coach is 4 games into his first season…
    his gm trades the leader of his team, a championship point guard, for a well-known coach killer, a certified league cancer who had been a problem for every coach he’d played for in the nba.
    in fact, only one coach – a probable hall of famer, regarded as one of BB’s best ever –  had ever been able to “handle” AI, and even larry brown eventually said he’d had enough after a few years.
    AI had left a string of experienced and not-so-experienced coaches in his wake by the time he came to detroit. 
    in fact, this year’s coach of the year, george karl, could not wait to dump his problem onto detroit’s roster and he hasn’t stopped smiling and winning since he was able to dump AI in detroit’s lap.
    so…curry should have been able to “handle” that situation, and not get overwhelmed and his failure to do so indicated that he lacked the requisite “flexiblity” to be a good nba coach.
    on the other hand, a guy like frank comes in with a completely clean slate, relative stability, a willing crew of mostly young or newer players, all of the old problem children purged, and somehow, someway, the organization “failed” him and frank’s own dismal record is somehow mitigated because the organization “failed” to put a roster together that would have allowed him to succeed.
    yea, i get it.
    frank: good coach who was the victim of circumstances and a organization that failed him.
    curry: bad coach who couldn’t handle his circumstances and lacked the requisite flexibility.
    yea…i got it.
    makes perfect sense. 

  • Apr 26, 20131:10 am
    by robertbayer


    Hi Frankie.. I agree with the intent of your sarcasm .. lets face it … Curry .. Kuester .. Frank .. were and are poor head coaches .. Lets not blame the Pistons for not supporting their head coaches so much as hiring bad head coaches to start with .. Dan Feldman is truly right that Hunter is not ready for the Pistons But what will Joe D do? Hire another buddy because he feels comfortable with him? Dont even want him to interview .. Mr. Tom Gores .. your franchise is being screwed up with lousy head coaches .. Very very difficult to get a good / great head coach but if you dont ..if you end up witht that guy no other GM would eve hire .. all your other efforts are going to be wasted .. the development of your young players is going to be harmed or stopped cold .. there is no more important decision for the GM / Owner than who the head coach is ..

    • Apr 26, 20139:07 am
      by Jeremy


      I agree with your statement on it being hard to get a good coach, but it gets even harder when your GM’s head coach transaction timeline looks like this:
      June 6, 2000: Joe Dumars named President of Basketball Operations, George Irvine named head coach
      May 25, 2001: Named Rick Carlisle as head coach
      June 2, 2003: Named Larry Brown as head coach
      July 21, 2005: Named Flip Saunders as head coach
      June 10, 2008: Named Michael Curry as head coach
      July 9, 2009: Named John Kuester as head coach
      August 3, 2011: Named Lawrence Frank as head coach
      I like Joe but his coaching decisions are questionable. Yes, Mr. D. had some major impact on Larry Brown being fired and in all honesty, that may very well have cost this team, at the very least, one more trip to the Finals. The players respected Brown and fit his style of play. Going further, Flip Saunders probably should have been given another year. He made the playoffs in 11 of 15 full seasons coached (all 3 when he was coaching the Pistons). The guy had a 71.5% win percentage in Detroit.
      I honestly believe that two transactions got us to today. The first one is not re-signing Ben Wallace. He went to Chicago for 4 years and roughly $60 million. I’m not sure what the Pistons’ salary cap situation was at that point in time, but under the CBA they could have gone over the cap to match that. Nazr wouldn’t have been signed, CWebb (although I liked watching him play in Detroit) wouldn’t have been signed, and Kwame Brown wouldn’t have been signed. Billups and McDyess probably would have still been extended in 2007. The second one is making the trade for A.I. Had that not been made, Rip would have never been given his massive deal to calm the waters. Gordon and Villanueva would have never been signed. Stuckey would have been coming off the bench.
      Ben’s production dropped off over the course of the contract that the Bulls gave him, but he played in Detroit for 2 more seasons after the terms of that contract were over anyways. He was never spectacular in the point production area anyways. We all saw what he gave us at the age of 36, 37 years old. Billups production has really only died off this year. If I’m correct his deal would have been up 2 seasons or so ago. In terms of the money, Ben’s deal from Chicago had the money front loaded and Billups was back loaded – one would have been declining as the other was getting a raise. I’m not saying they would have been kept the entire phase of their contracts, but if they stayed a few more years, would we have more banners in the rafters? Joe has expressed before that he wasn’t happy with how the Bad Boys were disbanded and that he was going to be proactive in rebuilding (while attempting to stay competitive – yeah, that didn’t happen). There is, however, a reason why the Spurs have remained so go for so long – very little roster turnover (albeit with great players) and consistency in the head coach position.

      • Apr 26, 20139:15 am
        by tarsier


        Wallace was not worth $15M/yr at that point. Over the life of that contract, C-Webb was a better player anyway. The Pistons fell apart in the playoffs because they stopped playing Saunders gameplan. They didn’t care about the regular season, so they were willing to listen to him then and that was the best they ever played.

        • Apr 26, 20139:43 am
          by G


          The Pistons lost their identity when they lost Ben Wallace. I agree, the $15M a year was WAY too much for a one-way center on the decline. He shot 27% FT’s in the playoffs his last year before Detroit let him go, and I think his lack of offense & declining defense was a big reason why they got knocked off by Miami (8-24 FT’s, 9.5 rebs, 0.7 bpg in the series).

          What I always thought the Pistons should’ve done was chuck Rasheed after the 2008 ECF. He got lazy, his attitude was starting to get in the way and he wasn’t worth the trouble. I remember one time, I think it was towards the end of game 5, the Pistons were down by a couple and Sheed got blocked on 2 or 3 layups in a row. He was probably fouled, but nothing was called. He fell down after the last one and basically pouted while Boston brought the ball up court. I remember yelling at the TV (something I don’t do often) “GET OFF YOUR ASS”. 

          Instead of letting Sheed go, they fired Flip, traded Chauncey, and extended Rip (who’s useless without a good PG) for WAY too much. Dumping Sheed would’ve gotten rid of a malcontent who was no longer worth the trouble. Then they could’ve kept Flip with player discipline re-established. I don’t know who they could’ve gotten for Sheed in trade at that point, but he was still worth SOMETHING.  

        • Apr 26, 201311:44 am
          by frankie d


          disagree about wallace.
          as far as his contract was concerned, i think people – and joe d, in fact – looked at it the wrong way.  
          imho, the only consideration was whether you could have gotten another 2-3 years of typical ben wallace production out of ben, on that new contract.
          in those situations, a large contract of that sort actually becomes valuable in its last year, as it in fact did, as ben was essentially traded for shaquille o’neal, as cleveland made its unsuccessful run at a title by bringing shaq ito cleveland.   so as far as weighing a contract against production, the last year of any large contract is somewhat irrelevant, imho.   nowadays, the size of a contract can be much more valuable than the player attached to the contract.  so i would have only been concerned with whether the team could have expected to string 3 more runs at a title together and i think it is clear that it could have easily happened if dumars had kept his core together.  in the pistons’ system, with sheed next to him, it’s tough to believe that ben could not have continued to play at a very high level for another 3 years.
          the other thing that makes letting ben go is that it fails to recognize what your team is truly about.  joe moved in that unfortunate direction when he hired flip, an offensive coach, and he solidified that change in philosophy/identity when he let ben go.  detroit, under carlisle and brown had always been a team that  got after teams defensively, and found just enough offense to win games.  wallace was the walking personification of that team identity.  hiring a buy with a binder full of fancy offensive plays and then jettisoning a 4 time defensive player of the year turned that identity on its ear and detroit has never really been the same team since.  sure, they won a lot of games under flip, but in the playoffs the team never had that killer mentality that comes with great defensive teams that know they can put a stranglehold on any opponent, get a couple of stops in the 4th quarter and walk away with a win.
          not to be a dead horse, as joe made plenty of mistakes post-larry brown, so i won’t go into the litany of horrors. but that one was the most consequential error and actually started the unraveling of the title team.
          again, contrast what joe did with how SA handled their team.  they knew their core guys – ginobli, parker, duncan – they’ve kept them around, and filled in as they’ve turned their roster over continually.
          joe forgot who his core guys were.  in fact, if you look at his actions, you would have believed that he felt his core guys were rip and tay, which is remarkable, as they were the players most dependent on the other guys and the system. 

          • Apr 26, 20133:29 pm
            by G

            Signing someone to a big contract so they can later be valuable as an expiring contract is a BAD way to do business. It didn’t work out for the Bulls, and it didn’t work out for the Pistons with Ben Gordon or Charlie V. Ben’s production DIDN’T hold up for 2-3 years, he was slipping when Detroit let him go, he slipped a little bit further in his first year in CHI, and he fell off the table in his second year (4.8 ppg, 8.4 rebs, 1.6 bpg). 

            Ben Wallace was certainly marginalized in Flip’s system, but that doesn’t change the fact that his skills were slipping and by 2008 he was barely even a viable starter. I agree that Dumars mis-identified his core guys, but $15M a year is WAY too much to pay a guy that can’t score and is losing his ability to get double-digit rebounds and multiple blocks per game.

          • Apr 26, 20133:56 pm
            by frankie d

            signing ben wallace to that contract in that year was not bad business, imho.
            he wasn’t just any old joe out there…he was a 4 time defensive player of the year, a guy who set the tone for your title team, and, a guy who’s numbers have never reflected how valuable he was.  i’m always surprised when even pistons’ fans forget this fact.  
            imho, ben was a guy who was always most effective in certain defensive systems and alongside certain players.  his situation here in detroit was absolutely perfect.  i do think chicago was somewhat naive to think that they could just slip him into their lineup and that he’d have the same kind of impact.  
            but in detroit, with their line up, he was worth whatever his market value was and detroit should have done what was needed to keep him.
            i think the team’s subsequent history has more than shown that to be true. 

          • Apr 26, 20134:45 pm
            by G

            I’m not forgetting anything. I remember being frustrated as hell with Ben in the 2006 playoffs, being on the fence about re-signing him that off-season, getting nervous about the offer the Pistons extended him (nervous because it seemed on the edge of the high side), and then a little relieved when Chicago backed the truck up for him.

            At that point in his career, Ben Wallace was a platoon player. His impact on the defensive end no longer out-weighed his liability on the offensive end. He hit 27% of his FT’s in the 2006 playoffs! The Pistons had to swap him out at the end of games, I remember being SO relieved when McDyess would come in for him that post-season.

            Also, that contract would’ve been a bigger albatross than the Rip deal, and it would’ve been nearly as bad as Charlie V and BG COMBINED. Do you recall how badly Ben Wallace fell off in the second year of that deal? Well the 3rd year was worse! 2.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg in 23.5 min on Cleveland (a team very focused on defense). He made $14.5M that year.

          • Apr 26, 20135:33 pm
            by frankie d

            i guess we wil have to just disagree about this as there is no way to rewind history. 
            if i recall, one of the huge reasons he fell off in that second year is that chicago went through a coaching carousel and skiles got fired and chicago was going trough a horrible transition.
            their roster was a mess.  they had tyrus thomas and noah and wallace all rotating through those big spots which was a mess, as it’s hard as heck to play non-scorers together on a team.  hell, joe smith was the big guy who was supposed to provide a bit of scoring.  how bad do you think it was there.
            again, the detroit starting unit was perfectly balanced for ben – and detroit – and he was never going to be as effective elsewhere.  sheed was THE perfect frontcourt mate for him, and he was never going to duplicate that elsewhere.
            ben should have understood that and joe d should have understood it also.
            it was the story of his career before he got to detroit and it was the same story after he left detroit.  
            as far as having to swap him out at the end of games, i felt that was the same misguided emphasis – by flip – that ultimately ruined that team.  flip was always going to try to find the unit that could run his nice little playbook as well as it could be run.  he really didn’t care about defense the same way. 
            tell you what…lebron’s historic 4th quarter and OT demolition of detroit never happens if ben wallace is on that detroit team.   it was not a coincidence that that travesty happened the first year wallace is not patrolling the paint against lebron and cleveland.

          • Apr 29, 20138:31 am
            by G

            Interesting point about LeBron… Like you said, we can’t rewind history, plug Ben Wallace in the middle & see if that stops LeBron from racking up 48 pts in game 5. Interesting ‘what if’ though.

            I’ll say this – if a player needs a perfect balance around him or he gets godawful numbers, that player isn’t worth $15M a year.

      • Apr 26, 20139:23 am
        by danny


        Its what you get when you have a great organization with star players that want to play for the city.  They don’t come to sa to play for money they play for championships and thats why ppl stay or at least listen.

    • Apr 26, 201311:11 am
      by Huddy


      “there is no more important decision for the GM / Owner than who the head coach is”…exaggeration.  Every good coach anyone mentions coached superstars.  The Piston’s poor coaching history is littered with bad player acquisition, bad trades, letting the wrong players go, some poor draft choices…overall the quality of players has gone down and out record has gone down.  Frank wasn’t great and should’ve started Drummond, but at the end of the day we weren’t going to be a playoff team.  I would like to see a good coach come to the team, but our roster is much more important.

    • Apr 26, 201312:17 pm
      by frankie d


      just to be clear, i think hunter would be a pretty lousy pick.  while it might have been an interesting option if he’d gone into phoenix and showed himself to be a coaching wunderkind, then sure, give him a shot here.
      but his phoenix experience was far from that.  i hope this is just joe d giving him a courtesy, which is fine.
      i am constantly amazed at the difference in the way so many fans – and media and pundits – treat curry and frank.
      whatever success frank had in the nba can be easily explained.  
      he took over an excellent, vet-driven team led by one of the league’s acknowledged leaders – jason kidd – a team that had been to two straight nba title series just before he took it over, a team that was still 22-20 when he took it over, and he was smart enough to leave well enough alone and ride the vets and use the foundation of success that was already in place.  he gets credit for that, no doubt.
      once those vets declined or were dumped and the team started to retool, he was revealed as a mediocre/below average coach and the team went onto a death spiral.
      when he came to detroit, he had a chance to show that his failures in NJ had more to do with the organization’s change in direction – retooling by dumping vets and bringing in young players – but instead, he was simply shown to be the same mediocre/below average coach he’d seemed when he was fired in NJ.  
      and as they say, the sample is more than sufficient to draw reasonable conclusions about frank.  he’s been an nba coach for almost 9 full seasons.
      on the other hand, curry comes in, has a tumultous first season because of events that are totally out of his control, has an almost .500 record and gets the team into the playoffs.  he has one season.
      but he’s the idiot, while frank is the good coach who just wasn’t supported sufficiently?  i don’t think so…
      is one season, especially under those circumstances, a large enough sample size to find out anything about a coach’s abilities?  imho, the most that can be said about curry is that no one really knows what kind of nba head coach he will be.
      however, i just find the reaction of so many of the “pundits” and media to be extremely curious and find that it has more to do with the idea that frank looks and talks like a “real” coach, while curry tended to be much less articulate and walked around in flashy suits and bad ties. 

  • Apr 26, 20139:15 am
    by G


    I agree with this. I think Hunter could be a very good coach, but he hasn’t put his time in yet. He’s not ready, and I’m afraid if the Pistons pick him up they’d get another 2-yr wonder.

  • Apr 26, 201310:35 am
    by elshark81


    Hunter would be another complete disaster as coach. He has done nothing to even merit an interview. Hopefully its just a favor and he is nowhere near a serious candidate. His players in Phoenix said he could not even draw up a play! Such a joke. 

    Of the names we have heard so far, McMillan is easily the best choice. We need someone with experience and credibility to steer this young team towards playoff contention. Nate has a respectable track record and around the league, considering he was part of the USA Olympic staff  and has coached a few playoff runs with Portland. He is not perfect but no coach out there is.

    Finally, enough with the irrational Laimbeer love! Another guy who has no NBA experience and no team in the league is knockin his door down to give him a gig. I love the bad boys but it has no bearing on head coaching qualifications. Laimbeer will never be HC here so get over it! 

    • Apr 29, 20133:43 pm
      by jamesjones_det


      Lam did pretty well in the WNBA…

  • Apr 29, 20133:42 pm
    by jamesjones_det


    Please god, Lindsey over Nate…  And for god sakes do not sign Howard!
    Tired Pistons Fan.

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