With the NBA in the midst of a lockout that could shake up the league for many years, the Detroit Pistons and Joe Dumars had the opportunity to do the same for a team under new ownership. While the coaches available were not the most exciting bunch that the team has ever seen, this was a chance for Dumars to take a team that has been mired in their 2004 selves and turn it into a team better suited for the current NBA.
Unlike when he made the change from Rick Carlisle or from Larry Brown, the latest moves were done in reaction to losing a team. The only question now is how long before Lawrence Frank loses this team?
Frank’s time as the head man in New Jersey went from a great deal of excitement to a team that was already looking beyond their coach to something else. In a tenure that sounded very similar to that of Flip Saunders, the team Frank left behind was significantly worse than the one he inherited. His relationship with Richard Jefferson became so bad that Jefferson was shipped out of town right before Frank’s 0-16 start doomed his career.
While Frank may be known as a defensive strategist and an extremely hard worker, the better choices would have been to bring in either Bill Laimbeer or Mike Woodson. Laimbeer would have undoubtedly been an extremely interesting hire and experiment, as he lacks NBA head coaching experience. It didn’t help Laimbeer’s cause that he is considered a quitter following his exit from the Shock. Dumars brought him in as a courtesy, and it may only continue to fracture the franchise’s relationship with its biggest names.
Woodson would have been a fantastic bridge between the 2004 mentality and the young core that the Pistons would like to develop into a team of the future. His tenure at Atlanta was considered a decent success on the most part, as he took a team of young speedsters and turned them into a perennial playoff participant. While the team improved every year under his watch, he was fractious with Hawks management and was eventually removed. He was known as being a favorite of players and could have been a solution to the divisiveness that currently represents the Pistons locker room.
Debate aside, the choice has been made. Frank will greet a team following the lockout at some point in the future, and his first goal will be to bring together a team and win some games. If not, we will have this debate again next year.