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Pistons gave Lawrence Frank quick hook, but not too quick

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

His NBA head-coaching career began extremely impressively. He guided his team to a few playoff berths. But his star faded when his team got off to a terrible start to the season, and he was fired.

Still, another team hired him as a head coach. At his next job, he posted back-to-back seasons with the equivalent of about 30 wins each. Again, his team faced a decision of how to handle his future.

The Detroit Pistons fired Lawrence Frank.

The Boston Celtics retained Doc Rivers.

In the previous 10 years, someone has coached two consecutive full seasons with the same team and posted a winning percentage equal to or worse than Frank’s with the Pistons 17 times. In a majority of those instances (10 of 17), the coach was retained.

Neither the above numbers nor the Rivers example mean the Pistons should have kept Frank. Every situation is different. They’re meant only to provide a little context to Frank’s résumé.


  • Apr 19, 20135:46 pm
    by frankie d


    rivers and franks?
    apples and oranges.
    rivers had never had a sub-.500 season before he started off his disastrous, soon to lead to his firing season.
    frank had 2 34-48 seasons just prior to his disastrous start.
    doc rivers had never had a sub-.500 season before he started off 1-10 and got fired.
    it just so happened that this coincided with grant hill, his second best player – and a crucial partner for tracey mcgrady, his best player – missing that entire season. 
    it is one thing to endure a bad start after 4 straight above .500 seasons which included 3 straight playoff appearances.
    frank was coming off 2 34-48 seasons and 2 prior seasons where he’d missed the playoffs  then started  a new season off 0-16.
    you can make a reasonable argument that orlando was premature in firing rivers.
    the idea that NJ was premature in firing frank is hard to swallow.
    and the post is misleading by failing to note that rivers posted a 45-37 record in his first year as boston coach.
    another bad record in his first  year in detroit.
    if any sort of comparison is to be made, at least offer complete and accurate information.
    again, if frank had come in and posted a season where he posted a  .549 winning percentage – as rivers did in boston – their situations might be roughly similar and therefore a comparison would be appropriate.
    but in frank’s case, he’s done nothing – via record or performance on the court – to establish any credibility in detroit.
    the same certainly cannot be said about rivers in boston. 
    funny, how numbers all of a sudden don’t mean anything and end up being inconvenient … problems… or unmentionables,  if they don’t work for someone…. 

  • Apr 19, 20137:28 pm
    by frankie d


    agreed.  every situation is different.
    however, this statement strongly implies a close similarity in the two situations:
    “Still, another team hired him as a head coach. At his next job, he posted back-to-back seasons with the equivalent of about 30 wins each. Again, his team faced a decision of how to handle his future.”
    i don’t think that statement, used in its context is accurate.
    if the statement was qualified, or if the statement referenced information concerning the fact that rivers had initially posted a .549 winning season and then “posted back to back seasons with the equivalent of about 30 wins…, while frank’s posted two seasons around the 30 win mark in his first two years in detroit” or something of that sort, such a statement would be accurate.
    but leaving out mention of rivers’ first very successful season in boston distorts the entire picture and makes the comparison in the post a bit suspect.
    imho, if frank had posted a .549 season his first year, he still has his job and no one is even thinking about firing him.   and he could have probably suffered another 30 win season if he’d enjoyed a successful initial season.  he would have at least established some kind of credibility in his new position, credibility that would be crucial considering how dramatic his previous failure.
    but to imply that frank’s circumstances, where he has had zero success – regarding wins and losses – in detroit, is similar to rivers first two or first 3 seasons is simply not accurate.  and unless readers were to take the time to research the issue, their view of the respective circumstances, based on the post,  would be greatly mistaken.

    • Apr 20, 20134:26 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Rivers’ record at the time (273-312) is pretty similar to Frank’s (279-335), though Frank has won three playoff series to Rivers’ zero at the time.

  • Apr 19, 20138:13 pm
    by EMan


    I was curious about something. Before Chuck Daly, from 1969 to 1983 (14 years), the Pistons had 9 different coaches. Ray Scott (1973-74 Coach of the Year) lasted 4 years, and Scotty Robertson was there for 3.

    Actually, when I look at the list, only Chuck Daly has coached more than 4 years (1983-92). 

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