The Pistons made an excellent hire in Lawrence Frank, and they did so because of Tom Gores.
I’m not talking about the reports that Gores preferred Frank while Dumars preferred Mike Woodson. I believe by the end of the process, Dumars was on board with Frank.
But Gores’ influence helped lead Dumars to Frank.
Dumars admitted the Pistons have “been off track” lately, and he certainly deserves plenty of blame. But he also needs more help from above than he’s gotten, and that’s apparently happening.
Gores fixed the problems that led to Detroit hiring Michael Curry and John Kuester.
Fixing the Michael Curry problem
Dumars fired Flip Saunders and hired Michael Curry on the same day. After evaluating Curry as an assistant coach and player, Dumars knew Curry was his guy. No wide search. No lengthy interview process. No other real candidates.
That obviously proved to be a huge mistake that set the franchise back years.
If Dumars had taken the time to ask Curry a few simple questions – What would you do if the team trades on of its starters? What would you do if a top player felt you wronged him? – Curry’s flaws probably would’ve been exposed.
But as usual, Dumars moved quickly. Although that had worked in the past, it didn’t this time.
This year, at the direction of Gores, the process took longer. Of course, the lockout likely had something to do with that, but Gores appeared to be a key factor.
Perhaps, if Dumars had free reign to move more quickly, the Pistons would’ve introduced Woodson months ago. But with more time to get to know each candidate, Frank emerged as the best candidate.
Fixing the John Kuester problem
Simply, the Pistons weren’t willing to spend enough money to land a good coach two years ago. That’s the No. 1 reason they lost Avery Johnson to the Nets and Doug Collins to 76ers.
I haven’t seen any reports on Lawrence Frank’s salary, but I’d be shocked if it’s not more than the $1.5 million per year Kuester received. I’m even more certain it could be higher if necessary. Via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:
"Gores said to just get the best guy and he’ll pay for the best guy," Dumars said.
Process in place
At his introductory news conference, Frank told the story of his last year of high school basketball tryouts. After Frank tried and failed to make the team the previous three years, the coach put his arm around him and said, “Son, you’ve got a lot of courage. You’re still cut, though.”
Some day, Dumars will likely have to deliver a similar messages to Frank. That’s just the nature of NBA coaching. They’re hired to be fired – and that’s why I’m so encouraged by how smoothly this process unfolded.
It will likely happen again several times during the Gores era, and the Pistons have a plan in place to get it right each time.