Questions left in the wake of Michael Curry’s firing

I’m going to continue updating this post, so check back to read more analysis.

Who will replace Curry?

Bill Laimbeer

He’s the most obvious candidate. Did he know Curry would be fired when he resigned from the Shock? He’d bring the toughness Detroit lacked last year.

Avery Johnson

He might be a little too high-strung for this job. But he has shown he can be successful in the short-term. Has he learned how to mellow out?

Tom Izzo

I don’t think he’d leave leave Michigan State, but this might be the job that tempts him. He’s very competitive, and I think, on some level, he wants to prove he can be a successful professional coach.

Jeff Van Gundy

He wants to get back into coaching, and he has an impressive record. There are probably better candidates out there, but he’s a fairly safe choice.

Tom Thibodeau

He’s widely regarded as the best assistant in the league. And he’s credited with orchestrating the Celtics’ defense.

Doug Collins

He coached Dumars, and he was interested in the 76ers opening. He’d be a solid choice, but he hasn’t coached in seven years.

Hubie Brown

I doubt he’s interested in returning to the bench at 75. But if he is, he’s probably my first choice. He even took the Grizzlies to the playoffs.

Terry Porter

He was a Pistons assistant before going to Phoenix. He was solid as a head coach in Milwaukee, and Phoenix didn’t improve after firing him last season. He’d probably come fairly cheap, too.

Larry Brown

Isn’t he always a candidate for every open job?

Did Curry deserve to be fired?

He only had one year, so there was still a chance he would develop into a quality coach. But he did a terrible job in that year.

  • He alienated Detroit’s star player, Richard Hamilton.
  • He claimed to emphasize defense and rebounding, but he started a ridiculously small lineup for much of the season.
  • He overly complicated defensive schemes.
  • He annoyed several players, most notably Jason Maxiell, by cutting their minutes with little explanation.
  • He failed to control Allen Iverson.
  • He let Rasheed Wallace’s discontent spread through the team.

The last two would be tough for any coach, but the first four should have been handled better.

I expected Curry to return next year, especially considering Joe Dumars said he would in April. My guess is Curry was unable or unwilling to repair his relationship with Hamilton. What else could have changed between April now besides Dumars’s assessment of whether that would happen?

So, if that’s the case, Curry deserved to be fired. You can’t be that stubborn as an NBA head coach. The players will win.

What does this mean for the roster?

It’s much more likely Hamilton will be back next season.

As I said above, there’s no way Dumars would get rid of Hamilton for Curry. But if he planned on trading Hamilton anyway, Curry might have seen a second year.

Since it’s more likely Hamilton is returning, it’s slightly less likely Detroit will sign Ben Gordon. The common thought is Detroit wants both, so the odds of Gordon signing didn’t take a huge hit.

But there’s still a chance it’s one or the other, so it’s a little less likely.

I guess this opens up the possibility of Rasheed Wallace returning. But I’d be shocked if he does.

This one comes from Henry Abbot of TrueHoop: Don’t we all suspect that the best coach hired this off-season will prove to have been Flip Saunders? With that in mind, the Pistons are in the market for a coach, having fired the guy they hired after firing Flip Saunders. You see what I’m saying? Isn’t there a chance they would have been better just keeping him?


Saunders is a better coach than Curry, and the Wizards probably made the best hire of the offseason. But Saunders’s time had run out in Detroit.

The players had tuned him out, and he had to move on. That happens when you’re dealing with highly paid coddled athletes. The message just loses its meaning.

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