Lawrence Frank erred by using previous seasons as excuse

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

“It has to be a clean slate.”

That was the promise Lawrence Frank made when the Pistons hired him in 2011. He inherited a team rife in internal strife. Players boycotted a shoot-around, laughed when their coach got ejected and, when they weren’t ignoring him, berated him publicly and privately.

Frank was brought in, for among other reasons, to end the Buffoonery Era. And aside from minor incidents all teams face, he’s mostly done that.

Frank said: “Obviously, since the All-Star break we’ve had a decline. There’s no hidden mystery there. This isn’t just a this-year problem. This is an accumulation of several years, and at the end of the day we have to field a group that’s going to represent this team with great pride. … This isn’t a one-player problem. It isn’t a one-coach problem. This is a team problem that we all have to share in the responsibility.”

Frank is hardly the first coach to advocate for keeping his job by shifting blame elsewhere, and I don’t really blame him for doing it. There are millions of dollars on the line, and it’s completely reasonable he would contextualize his record based on the situation he inherited. That’s what GM Joe Dumars and owner Tom Gores should do when evaluating Frank this off-season.

But I was still disappointed Frank sunk to that level.

Frank is a coach who preaches values and consistency. He’s probably one of the hardest-working coaches in basketball, and his message – agree with it or not – has always been consistent.

At least until now.

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