Picking Frank not easy or popular, but the right one

As you may have heard, the Pistons go through coaches quickly. For all I know, they already have fired Lawrence Frank. This seems unlikely, since they have not even agreed to contract terms with Frank yet, and the league is locked out, but who knows? The world gets more efficient every day.
Nonetheless, I will assume Frank is still almost employed by the Pistons. And let me reiterate what I wrote last month: I think he is the right choice.
If you’re skeptical, I understand. But if you’re skeptical because Frank is short … well, I’m just not sure I buy that logic. I didn’t realize a coach has to see over the top of a defense. Hey, Yao Ming just retired — maybe the Pistons can hire him as an assistant, then Frank can sit on Yao’s shoulders and win coach of the year.
Frank does not look like your image of a coach. He doesn’t have Pat Riley’s hair or Phil Jackson’s power-forward frame. So what? Neither does Gregg Popovich.
This is what I really like about this move: Joe Dumars went for the best coach this time. That’s all. He didn’t react to a previous mistake.
The popular move would be to hire former Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer. This especially would have been popular with other NBA teams.
Have you noticed that no good team has tried to hire Laimbeer? Or that the Timberwolves, who employed Laimbeer as an assistant the past two years, appear to have no interest in making him their head coach? He was a terrific player for the Pistons. He is not considered a viable head-coaching candidate by people in the NBA.
Mike Woodson would have been the safe hire — he worked for the Pistons before and had some success with the Hawks. But I think Frank is a better coach with more long-term potential.
Dumars has made too many coaching hires. But some were good hires.
We can debate whether the Pistons should have fired Rick Carlisle, but there is no debate that hiring him was brilliant. He is one of the best coaches in the NBA.
We can argue over the circumstances of Larry Brown’s departure, but hiring him was a great move. He is one of the great coaches in NBA history, and he won one championship with the Pistons and came within one game of winning two.
After Brown left, the Pistons started getting reactive instead of proactive. Flip Saunders was supposed to be a refreshing, low-maintenance replacement for the drama-loving Brown. Michael Curry was supposed to command the respect that Saunders didn’t. John Kuester, who had been a Pistons assistant, was supposed to be a familiar face who would stop the revolving door.
Kuester lost his team. So what should Dumars do now? Hire a tough guy who will scream at Rip Hamilton? Hire a guy he knows? Put it to a fan vote?
No. He needs to hire the best coach he can find, period.
Frank’s record isn’t great, but that’s not entirely his fault. He has been painted as a workaholic hoops nerd because he didn’t even play high school ball. But he communicated well with a tough group of players in New Jersey.
Lawrence Frank can’t change what happened here the past two years. But he can win for the next 10. And that is what matters.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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