Detroit Pistons courting European coach Zeljko Obradovic?

Meet Zeljko Obradovic.

Not to be confused with former Pistons’ center Zeljko Rebraca, Obradovic is arguably the most intriguing candidate to be mentioned for Detroit’s vacant head-coaching position.

But who is Zelly (that’s what I’ve already decided I’ll call him) Obradovic, you ask?

Euroleague.net has the background:

The winningest coach in Euroleague history is none other than Zeljko Obradovic. A World champion as a player in 1990, Obradovic led Partizan to its only Euroleague title in 1992, downing Joventut in the final. He compensated Joventut’s fans by leading them to the 1994 Euroleague title, the only crown in club history. Obradovic then joined Real Madrid and won his third Euroleague title in 1995. He also won Saporta Cup titles with Madrid in 1997 and Benetton in 1999 before joining Panathinaikos. In his 10 seasons with the Greens, Obradovic has won nine Greek league crowns, five Greek Cups and four Euroleague titles in 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2009. Obradovic also captured gold at EuroBasket 1997 and the 1998 World Championship with Yugoslavia

He’s the Red Aurebach or Phil Jackson of Europe. If we blindly judged coaches on “ringz” like some do players, he’d be an absolutely obvious pick for the job in Detroit.

There is a catch, though.

We know very little about him. Yes, he’s got the resume, but his style of play is still somewhat ambiguous and, unless you are fluent in reading Spanish, his intentions with an NBA team are somewhat confusing — potentially because the Google Translation of this Spanish article is tough to understand.

El Contraataque has nearly all details regarding Obradovic and the Pistons:

The contract would be set at a figure close to $ 4 million this season. Amount charged similar to his predecessor Lawrence Frank in Detroit. Obradovic want a computer in order to compete effectively and get to play offs. Detroit has more than enough cap room since they only have committed for next season of $ 30 million.

But this excerpt from the same post may be the most interesting part of the entire idea:

Coach Zeljko Obradovic wants to be assuming functions to propose a signature basketball, similar to that practiced Greg Popovich in San Antonio Spurs but with the virtues that characterize the former coach of Panathinaikos.

Popovich has a lot of pull in the Spurs organization — especially after once serving as the team’s GM before successfully appointing himself as head coach — and from the way that sounds, it may feel like Obradovic wants in on Dumars’ personnel decisions.

With as big of a summer as this is for the Pistons, that would mean putting your hope into the hands of a currently not-so-well-thought-of Dumars and a coach with zero experience as any sort of coach in the NBA.

It’s a boom-or-bust idea, but that might be what this team needs. You can only pluck the wrong up-and-coming assistant or retread coach so many times before you need to hit it big, again.

Dumars has endured three bad hires after three good coach. Maybe the ultimate off-the wall-pick – Obradovic wasn’t even considered for our list of 23 potential Pistons coaches – would get Dumars back into the win column.

According to team writer Keith Langlois (hat tip: Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys), Obradovic has been around the Pistons during training camp and preseason, just observing. Perhaps he likes what he sees with the roster.

Who knows whether this rumor has legs or is the product of a media environment much different from our own? According to the Spanish article, Obradovic is one of the final two candidates along with “an American coach.”

Either way, it’s certainly an interesting idea.

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Tags: Joe Dumars Zeljko Obradovic

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