There was a time not too long ago where the search for the next Pistons coach was as exciting as the search for the next free agent to join the Pistons on their quest for another championship. When Rick Carlisle’s two 50-win seasons were not deemed worthy enough by Joe Dumars, an increasingly flirtatious Larry Brown entered the picture to take the job. When Larry Brown couldn’t keep his eyes from wandering to New York, Dumars quickly acted again in going after Flip Saunders. Under Dumars, the Pistons coaching job has been an ongoing carousel. There’s no reason to think that this time around will be any different.
Of course, all of this may not mean anything if a labor agreement is not reached by the league and its players. Assuming that the NBA decides to play at some point in the next decade, the Pistons will need a coach that carries some clout with a mix of youth and holdover players with a ring. Dumars’ inability to transition his Pistons over the past five-plus years, has put both his team on the edge of irrelevance and his job on the edge of existence.
Who could this next coach of the Pistons be? It seems that the top list of names is dotted with one of three groups: 1) 2004 Pistons assistant coaches; 2) former NBA head coaches; and 3) stretch head coaching candidates. The leading candidate in the first group would likely be former Hawks coach Mike Woodson, seemingly now the clubhouse leader for the job. John Kuester at one time fit in this group, therefore making Woodson’s candidacy seem less appealing.
The former head coaches pool includes both Lawrence Frank and Isiah Thomas. I’ve got to imagine that Isiah’s appeal is mostly with fans who have 20-year amnesia. His “issues” while running the New York Knicks have likely not gone unnoticed. While his players swear by his abilities, Dumars will likely shy away from another Larry Brown-esque ego in the head coaching position.
The stretch head coaching group is probably the most intriguing of the three coaching groups. With Bill Laimbeer, Kelvin Sampson, and (potentially) Tom Izzo in the mix, the Pistons could bring in a coach that would have the potential of logging a number of years for the team. If not, we could be talking about the Pistons opening yet again, one year from now.