Archive → April, 2013
The TrueHoop Network votes each year on NBA awards, and without further ado, here are its choices:
Most Valuable Player
Player, points (first votes-second votes-third votes-fourth votes-fifth votes)
1. LeBron James, 380 (38-0-0-0-0)
2. Kevin Durant, 264 (0-37-1-0-0)
2. Chris Paul, 166 (0-1-29-4-2)
3. Carmelo Anthony, 60 (0-0-2-14-8)
4. James Harden, 51 (0-0-5-8-2)
5. Russell Westbrook, 17 (0-0-0-5-2)
Others receiving votes: Marc Gasol, 17 (0-0-0-3-8); Tony Parker, 15 (0-0-1-2-4); Kobe Bryant, 7 (0-0-0-1-4); Tim Duncan, 6 (0-0-0-1-3); Stephen Curry, 3 (0-0-0-0-3); Chris Bosh, 1 (0-0-0-0-1); Brook Lopez, 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Marc Gasol, 138 (24-6-0)
2. LeBron James, 48 (4-7-7)
3. Andre Iguodala, 37 (4-4-5)
Others receiving votes: Joakim Noah, 31 (0-8-7); Tim Duncan, 17 (1-3-3); Roy Hibbert, 9 (0-3-0); Tony Allen, 6 (0-0-6); Larry Sanders, 5 (0-1-2); Omer Asik, 3 (0-1-0); Avery Bradley, 2 (0-0-2); Tyson Chandler, 1 (0-0-1)
Rookie of the Year
1. Damian Lillard, 151 (26-7-0)
2. Anthony Davis, 105 (7-22-4)
3. Andre Drummond, 37 (0-4-25)
Others receiving votes: Harrison Barnes, 2 (0-0-2); Dion Waiters, 1 (0-0-1); Bradley Beal, 1 (0-0-1)
Sixth Man of the Year
1. J.R. Smith, 117 (17-10-2)
2. Kevin Martin, 75 (11-6-2)
3. Jamal Crawford, 44 (1-9-12)
Others receiving votes: Ryan Anderson, 13 (0-2-7); Vince Carter, 10 (1-1-2); Matt Barnes, 8 (1-1-0); Taj Gibson, 3 (0-1-0); Gordon Hayward, 3 (0-1-0); Jarrett Jack, 3 (0-0-3); Jeff Green, 2 (0-0-2); Amir Johnson, 1 (0-0-1)
Most Improved Player
1. Larry Sanders, 82 (13-4-5)
2. Nikola Vucevic, 70 (9-7-4)
3. Greivis Vasquez, 63 (6-9-6)
Others receiving votes: Lance Stephenson, 28 (2-5-3); Paul George, 22 (0-4-10); Jrue Holiday, 14 (1-2-3)
Coach of the Year
1. Gregg Popovich, 79 (8-11-6)
2. Erik Spoelstra, 78 (11-7-2)
3. George Karl, 51 (7-4-4)
Others receiving votes: Mark Jackson, 34 (4-3-5); Mike Woodson, 22 (1-4-5); Kevin McHale, 9 (1-1-1); Tom Thibodeau, 9 (0-1-6); Doc Rivers, 3 (0-1-0); Frank Vogel, 3 (0-0-3)
Executive of the Year
1. Darryl Morey, 123 (19-9-1)
2. Masai Ujiri, 97 (9-16-4)
3. Pat Riley, 23 (2-2-7)
Others receiving votes: Rob Hennigan, 9 (0-0-9); Glen Grunwald, 7 (0-2-1); Danny Ferry, 5 (0-1-2); Mitch Kupchak, 4 (0-0-4); R.C. Buford, 2 (0-0-2)
Guard: Chris Paul, 103 (20-1-0)
Guard: Russell Westbrook, 77 (8-12-1)
Guard: Kobe Bryant, 77 (8-12-1)
Forward: LeBron James, 105 (21-0-0)
Forward: Kevin Durant, 105 (21-0-0)
Center: Marc Gasol, 93 (15-6-0)
Guard: James Harden, 55 (3-11-7)
Guard: Tony Parker, 44 (3-6-11)
Forward: Carmelo Anthony, 61 (1-18-2)
Forward: Blake Griffin, 42 (0-12-6)
Center: Tim Duncan, 64 (5-12-3)
Guard: Dwyane Wade, 25 (0-4-13)
Guard: Steph Curry, 8 (0-0-8)
Forward: Paul George, 10 (0-1-7)
Forward: Andre Iguodala, 6 (0-0-6)
Center: Chris Bosh, 25 (0-6-7)
Others receiving votes: Tyson Chandler, 8 (0-2-2); Dwight Howard, 7 (0-1-4); Joakim Noah, 7 (0-1-4); Brook Lopez, 7 (0-0-7); LaMarcus Aldridge, 5 (0-0-5); Al Horford, 3 (0-0-3); Kevin Garnett, 2 (0-0-2); Paul Pierce, 2 (0-0-2); Josh Smith, 2 (0-0-2); Rajon Rondo, 1 (0-0-1); David West, 1 (0-0-1)
- Marc Gasol, 42 (21-0)
- LeBron James, 42 (21-0)
- Andre Iguodala, 38 (18-2)
- Tony Allen, 33 (13-7)
- Tim Duncan, 27 (11-5)
- Joakim Noah, 26 (9-8)
- Avery Bradley, 24 (6-12)
- Larry Sanders, 15 (2-11)
- Roy Hibbert, 13 (3-7)
- Kevin Garnett, 10 (0-10)
Others receiving votes: Chris Paul, 8 (0-8); Serge Ibaka, 7 (0-7); Tyson Chandler, 6 (1-4); Luol Deng, 6 (0-6); Taj Gibson, 4 (0-4); Kawhi Leonard, 4 (0-4); Thabo Sefolosha, 4 (0-4); Omer Asik, 3 (0-3); Dwyane Wade, 1 (0-1); Dwight Howard, 1 (0-1); Josh Smith, 1 (0-1)
- Damian Lillard, 40 (20-0)
- Andre Drummond, 40 (20-0)
- Anthony Davis, 40 (20-0)
- Bradley Beal, 39 (19-1)
- Harrison Barnes, 30 (10-10)
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 26 (6-14)
- Dion Waiters, 18 (1-16)
- Jonas Valanciunas, 17 (4-9)
- Andrew Nicholson, 13 (0-13)
- Moe Harkless, 11 (0-11)
Others receiving votes: Chris Copeland, 8 (0-8); Pablo Prigioni, 5 (0-5); Evan Fournier, 4 (0-4); Brian Roberts, 3 (0-3); Kyle Singler, 2 (0-2); Orlando Johnson, 1 (0-1); Jae Crowder, 1 (0-1); Festus Ezeli, 1 (0-1); Tyler Zeller, 1 (0-1)
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:
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
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.
GM Joe Dumars: "We thank Lawrence for his hard work and dedication, but we feel it is in the best interest of franchise to make a change."
These official releases rarely contain anything beyond boilerplate, but I think the fact this one comes from Joe Dumars matters. Dumars’ fate still hasn’t been publically announced by Tom Gores, but if Dumars is announcing Frank’s firing, I think that’s a strong sign Dumars will be retained. Otherwise, I’d guess the information would have been attributed to the organization rather than Dumars.
Pistons have notified Lawrence Frank that won’t be retained as coach.
At this point, this news is a shock to no one. Frank practically asked to be fired, and the Pistons appeared likely to comply even without his request.
Based on every signal for past month: Pistons’ Lawrence Frank will also be let go today.
Consistent word in coaching circles: L-Frank already knows fate but won’t be officially notified until he meets today with owner Tom Gores
If it hadn’t happened already, Frank probably sealed his fate when he delivered Tom Gores his ultimatum. It wasn’t necessarily an unfair option for Frank to present, but it made him very difficult to keep.
Giving Frank one more year is reasonable. Giving him two more years of guaranteed salary probably is not.
The (somewhat) annual Pistons roundtable has returned. Each day this week, our panel of Pistons writers will answer a question about the Pistons – all in one place. Please add your answers in the comments.
What is most important for the Pistons this off-season?
Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press
The top priority is getting a scoring wing. It remains a challenge for them scoring in the half court. It’s unlikely they’ll get that guy through free agency. But they could use one of their young pieces (Greg Monroe and/or Brandon Knight) along with the more than $25 million under the salary cap to engineer a significant trade.
Mike Payne, Detroit Bad Boys
Not blowing money on the wrong players. It was bad in 2009 and frustrating in 2011, but if they do it again this season during Greg and Andre’s reign, it’ll be tragically wasteful. The team needs to save what they can and spend on the right free agents, guys like Brandan Wright and Jose Calderon.
Phil Fattore, Pistons 101
Spending the near $30 million in free agent dollars is important, but there aren’t many names worth “big money” contracts. The Pistons need an athletic small forward who can stretch the floor, opening the lane for Andre Drummond and Monroe. With forwards like Anthony Bennett and Victor Oladipo coming out, a strong lottery pick is the most important thing for the Pistons.
Daniel Poarch, Life on Dumars
The most important thing next year is going to be putting the young guys in a position to succeed. Drummond and Monroe are going to be the focus, along with Brandon Knight and whomever they land in the lottery, and the Pistons’ offseason direction should be to build around them as centerpieces. Hopefully, this means more than 20 minutes per game from Drummond next year.
Eric Stafford, Life on Dumars
Not letting Dumars give money to players like O.J. Mayor or J.R. Smith. We all remember the infamous off-season where he severely overpaid veteran players Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. I’m just hoping we don’t get a repeat of that. Just fill the roster with short-term contracts and let the young players get the run they need.
Thom Powell, Life on Dumars
Subtlety will be key. Last time Joe Dumars had this much cap space to work with, the Pistons were saddled with Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva’s contracts. Detroit needs to find players that fit definite needs, rather than guys with big names or contract year flukes. I’m hoping they steer clear of O.J. Mayo and Brandon Jennings and pursue guys like Gerald Henderson or Andre Iguodala. Also, don’t re-sign Jason Maxiell.
Natalie Sitto, Need4Sheed.com
Detroit has cap space and a lottery pick, if they don’t dramatically move players and draft well they’re going to have a repeat of the last few seasons. Detroit is not a place where big time players want to come, so a big trade will mean big things.
Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered
Don’t repeat the mistakes of 2009. If you aren’t terrified by the thought of Dumars having money to spend on a free agent market that isn’t overwhelming with talent (assuming the Pistons aren’t in the running for Chris Paul or Dwight Howard), you haven’t been paying attention. The Pistons are still saddled with an awful contract from the summer of 2009, and they had to give up a first-round pick just to shed the other. They have a promising young duo, a still intriguing prospect in Knight and a couple of serviceable role players in Kyle Singler and Jonas Jerebko. Plus, they’ll add a lottery pick to that mix. Don’t ruin that promising group with overpaid, underachieving players.
J.M. Poulard, PistonPowered
Figuring out their identity. All the good teams in the NBA know what makes them successful. Whether it’s defense or offense, they have something to hang their hats on in tough games and grind them out. Detroit needs to figure out that it.
Jameson Draper, PistonPowered
There are two different paths for Detroit to take: re-sign Calderon or let him go. If they re-sign Calderon (which they should), they should draft a small forward. Kyle Singler at the three isn’t going to cut it. If they don’t re-sign Calderon, they should focus on either developing Knight at point guard or picking up a high-profile point guard in the draft.
Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered
Spending wisely. Just because you’ve got a lot of money doesn’t mean you have to spend all of it. If the team makes a run at Andre Iguodala, that’s probably a worthy place to invest big money. If the team makes a run at Monta Ellis, that’s probably just them spending for the sake of spending.
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered
Getting the first-round pick right. The Pistons’ late four-game winning streak definitely hurt their lottery position, and barring some May luck at NBA Studios, Detroit will pick No. 7 or No. 8. The Pistons can’t keep banking on premium prospects to fall that far, and unlike when they picked Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, there’s a very real chance they’ll have to pick someone from a crowded field of similar players. For a team that needs more talent and traded away a future first-round pick, the Pistons need to get this one right.
With his brief tenure rapidly reaching a crossroads, Detroit Pistons coach Lawrence Frank informed owner Tom Gores that he shouldn’t be retained for the third year of his contract unless the franchise is willing to guarantee the deal’s fourth-year team option, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
In the week prior to completing his second season as Pistons coach on Wednesday night, Frank delivered this message to Gores and Detroit general manager Joe Dumars in face-to-face and telephone discussions, sources said.
The Pistons are expected to deliver Frank’s fate in a Thursday meeting at the team’s practice facility in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Frank is guaranteed $4 million for the 2013-14 season, and the team controls a $4 million option for the 2014-15 season.
This sounds like the desperate move of a coach who knows he’s about to be fired. I don’t think Gores’ decision will be difficult.
The Clippers-Kings game currently underway is the season’s final game that will affect the Pistons’ draft positioning. Here’s what each outcome would mean for Detroit:
If Clippers beat Kings
- No. 1 pick: 3.55 percent
- No. 2 pick: 4.1 percent
- No. 3 pick: 4.85 percent
- No. 6 pick: 0 percent
- No. 7 pick: 29.95 percent
- No. 8 pick: 47.8 percent
- No. 9 pick: 9.3 percent
- No. 10 pick: 0.4 percent
- No. 11 pick: less than 0.1 percent
- No. 55 pick: 50 percent
If Kings beat Clippers
- No. 1 pick: 4.46666 percent
- No. 2 pick: 5.1 percent
- No. 3 pick: 5.93333 percent
- No. 6 pick: 14.63333
- No. 7 pick: 30.13333
- No. 8 pick: 33.2 percent
- No. 9 pick: 6.23333 percent
- No. 10 pick: 0.26666 percent
- No. 11 pick: less than 0.1 percent
- No. 55 pick: 0 percent
Who cares about the No. 55 pick? I’m rooting for the Kings and better odds at the top of the draft.
Most Valuable Player
Will Bynum scored 23 points 10 shots. In a game few others cared, it’s tempting to say the pending free agent was playing for his next contract, but that wasn’t the case. Bynum plays hard every moment of every game.
That was… uninspired
Neither team had the mental focus to show proper form on their jump shots (combining to shoot 28 percent outside the restricted area) or the physical willingness to defend the interior (allowing a combined 70 percent shooting in the restricted area).
Mirza Teletovic adjusted his shoe while the Pistons took one free throw of one, allowing Andre Drummond to swoop in for the rebound and putback dunk.
Frank: "The accountability starts with me and you hope everyone looks in the mirror as well."
Whether that comment was directed at ownership, management or the players, Lawrence Frank has a point. Many people failed this season, and in turn that made Frank look worse. But Frank’s failures made others in the organization look worse, and a coach is usually the most disposable piece.