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Detroit Pistons Fire Lawrence Frank
Posted By Bill Ingram On April 18, 2013 @ 2:18 pm In NBA | No Comments
In the world of professional sports, when a team struggles, the first person who gets blamed is usually the head coach. The NBA is certainly no different, and we’ve already seen Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins and Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott get their walking papers on Thursday. Next up is the Detroit Pistons’ Lawrence Frank, who was given just two seasons to turn one of the league’s worst teams into something better and failed to do so.
“We thank Lawrence for his hard work and dedication, but we feel it is in the best interest of the franchise to make a change at this time,” said Pistons general manager Joe Dumars in a statement. “Decisions like this are never easy and we wish Lawrence well in the future.”
In this case, there is an odd twist to the story, as team owner Tom Gores made it clear that he expected a playoff berth this season and is now expected to start hacking away at the leadership team that failed to reach that lofty goal. Frank reportedly told management that he would only consider returning for the third season on his contract if the team picked up the option on his fourth year. Considering that Frank was already talking like someone who would soon be looking for a new job, that demand is strange indeed.
“Unfortunately, it’s been too long a talk for too long,” Frank said on Wednesday night when asked about possibly coaching his last game for Detroit. “It’s been going on for awhile, so it’s not like this just jumped up and it’s news flash. Because you have to answer the question every day, it’s something you do give some thought to.”
The Pistons showed some improvement this season, winning four more games than they did last year, but when you consider the 66-game lockout schedule the team actually had a lower winning percentage despite winning 29 games to last year’s 25. The reality is that Detroit simply doesn’t have the pieces to even think about being a playoff team, and the fact that Frank failed to establish a strong culture within his team didn’t make it any better. Questionable rotations were an issue throughout the season, but the way the team fell apart during a 1-13 March demonstrated just how far the team really is from being good.
“To me, I have always been told you are going to work every single day until they tell you that you are no longer needed,” Frank said. “I only focus on what I can control. The speculation is out there, but that is nothing I can control. Just do my job until you are no longer needed.”
Today, Frank was told just that. He is no longer needed.
And so the Pistons turn yet another page, with Frank as the third head coach to be scapegoated to cover, in part, for poor management on the part of Dumars. The Detroit Free Press‘ Vince Ellis reports that he believes Dumars will be retained, meaning the struggles in Detroit are likely to continue.
Like a number of teams, the Pistons expect to be major players in free agency this summer. They will be roughly $25 million under the cap and Gores has gone on record as saying he is prepared to spend.
“Now I’m very excited about what we have going,” Gores said. “We have a lot of (cap) room. We’ve set ourselves up financially, and basketball operations has set ourselves up, so I’m very excited about the future. But I’m not content about how we performed this year.”
The Pistons definitely have some nice young pieces, and their front court is taking shape nicely with the way Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are coming along. Still, Detroit is at least two significant pieces away from even thinking about being a playoff team, no matter who is coaching them.
It will be interesting to see who steps up for that challenge, given that the window for taking the Pistons from lottery team to playoff team appears to be two seasons.
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