Flipped Aside

In the most predictable move by Joe Dumars since George Irvine was shown the Palace door for the last time, Flip Saunders joins Dick Vitale, Doug Collins and Ron Rothstein as former Pistons coaches. In a move that will likely signal a new sort of era for the Pistons, Saunders’ inability to take the 2004 Champs and 2005 Finalists back to the promise land was his undoing. He was a coach without a title coaching those who had what he was looking for. In fact, in Saunders’ last attempt with this Pistons squad, it was his former star (Garnett) who got to play for pro basketball’s greatest prize in his place.

Saunders was part-Mariucci, part-Trammell. He wasn’t listened to when it mattered. He wasn’t respected for his previous accomplishments. Much like many before him, he was destined for mediocrity with a team that used their mouths in the past to lose a title to the Spurs. If they couldn’t stop complaining to the refs when it counted for a championship, Saunders was no match to this bunch.

Joe Dumars’ busy summer is underway and there’s no doubt about it. That famed core group from 2004 will lose another member or two by Independence Day’s first sparkler. 2008-9 will feature Rick Carlisle as Mavericks coach and Larry Brown as Bobcats coach. In a sport where second chances have brought Kelvin Sampson as an assistant in Milwaukee and Don Nelson (and potentially Doug Collins) into a remix stint with his past squad, Saunders will undoubtedly return to the head post one day. The next time he arrives at the Palace it will just have to be at the other side of the scorer’s table.