Earlier today, I wrote about Tom Gores ‘looking to put his stamp on’ the Pistons coaching hire. It didn’t take long to learn what that meant. Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:
Tom Gores’ vow to use every available resource to restore the Pistons to greatness has led him to Phil Jackson, who has agreed to serve in an advisory capacity in the franchise’s search for a head coach.
“Phil Jackson is a friend and one of the best minds in the business,” Gores said. “We are thrilled to have him as an adviser as we make some very important decisions for this franchise. Joe (Dumars) and I discussed this and he and I are in full agreement that this is a great opportunity.”
“Phil Jackson and Tom Gores are friends,” said Mark Barnhill, a partner in Platinum Equity, Gores’ California-based private equity firm. “Based on that relationship, Phil has agreed to provide advice and counsel on the coaching search and immediate basketball needs. He will be in Detroit next week as a resource to Joe Dumars, who is leading the search.
Phil Jackson’s presence might be meaningless – a way to spread wealth from a billionaire to a millionaire friend, a Hollywood show designed to excite fans. I’m not one to tell Tom Gores how to spend his money, especially when it doesn’t affect the NBA’s salary cap, but that seems like a waste. No fan will spend any more money on the Pistons simply because they hired Jackson for a few-week or few-month job.
But maybe Jackson will have a real role in the search. If that’s the case, this could get very counterproductive.
Reportedly, Gores hired Lawrence Frank over Mike Woodson, despite Dumars preferring Woodson. I can’t imagine the Pistons hiring Frank unless Dumars at least liked him, but Dumars’ preference to a coach succeeding with the Knicks over one just fired by the Pistons should give Dumars more leeway in this coaching search.
Hiring coaches is Dumars’ job, and if Gores can’t trust him to do it, he should just fire him now. If Dumars actually wants Jackson on board as an advisor – see Langlois’ article for a boilerplate quote from Dumars about looking forward to working with Jackson – that’s one thing, but Dumars is basically forced to respond that way whether he supports adding Jackson or not.
What does this mean about the Pistons’ next coach?
If Jackson is a figurehead, nothing.
If he’s involved, I’d still call Nate McMillan the favorite, but former Jackson assistant Brian Shaw certainly has a better shot.
Or maybe Jackson will pull a Dick Cheney and hire himself. In that case, ignore all my negative concerns and check back for my post praising the big-thinking Gores.