Maybe the Pistons are stalling their coaching search to hire someone other than Mike Woodson or Lawrence Frank


Chris Kiyak emailed me this, and I thought it would make a tremendous guest post. –Dan

In Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press’ recent article about the Pistons’ coaching search, this caught my eye:

"If the organization is waiting for the NBA lockout to end before hiring a coach, which seems unlikely, it probably would take finalists Lawrence Frank and Mike Woodson out of the picture. Coaches want to know where they’ll be working, not spend the summer in limbo.But if the lockout isn’t a factor, what’s the holdup? Perhaps there’s another, heretofore unidentified candidate. No one is saying."

For what it’s worth, I still think the Pistons will hire Lawrence Frank or Mike Woodson. But if it were all about coming to a consensus on those two, I think it would have been decided by now. Although I understand both Joe Dumars and Tom Gores are looking to get it right, neither Frank nor Woodson will command $25 million and necessitate a huge buyout if things go awry.

The cost of paying Frank or Woodson during the buyout probably doesn’t justify waiting to hire one, but the cost to hire an alternative might justify waiting.

Plus, if Detroit doesn’t rank Frank and Woodson that much higher than Kelvin Sampson, then there’s really not much downside to risking Frank and Woodson walking. The upside of waiting is new candidates might be available later in the offseason.

To me, that’s the only reason I see waiting. If Frank and Woodson were the only variables in the equation, the Pistons would have solved it by now.

Here are five targets for whom getting lockout clarity might influence the decision making:

Erik Spoelstra

If Micky Arison is prodding Pat Riley to take over the team for a championship run, the parameters of the next CBA will make a big difference in whether the Heat can build or must break up. If the league goes to a hard cap of $65 million, the Heat could probably add a missing piece (maybe two) for an all-out shot at the title. Arison’s prodding, plus the ability to add pieces might be enough to get Riley to hold clipboard for at least one more season or two.

If Spoelstra were let go, he would probably be considered a better coaching candidate than either Frank or Woodson.

Jeff Van Gundy

Mark Jackson’s hire virtually came out of nowhere. With an extended lockout and the potential of a $45 million hard salary cap, Van Gundy would have no interest in taking any NBA head-coaching gig. He obviously loves his work as an analyst at ESPN, and it’s hard for him to leave it. But, if the lockout were settled reasonably, could he make the Pistons’ list?

He’s an ideal candidate in terms of defensive principles, toughness, hard work and a Xs and Os. He has experience (and successful experience). Would he walk away if convinced he’s Joe Dumars’ guy? (I don’t think so, but I think it’s worth adding.)

Larry Brown (again)

Larry Brown has three things working against him:

  • He’ll cost a lot of money.
  • He’s a short-term asset
  • He’s a flake

If you get past those five things, he could be a candidate. He would be the ideal coach for Brandon Knight (and possibly make progress with Rodney Stuckey). He has a proven track record, commands respect of the locker room and maximizes his talent better than most coaches. His rift was mostly with Bill Davidson, not Dumars. Could a reunion be possible? (Unlikely, but not impossible)

Nate McMillan

Portland fired Kevin Pritchard and Rich Cho fewer than 12 months apart. That’s pretty quick work for GMs – especially two of the better evaluators of personnel in the league. Last I checked, Portland still hasn’t hired a permanent replacement.

Will the next GM want Nate McMillan to return? The Blazers probably won’t fire McMillan until they gain some clarity about the new CBA. If they do, would Detroit pounce on McMillan?

Jerry Sloan

I’d also add Jerry Sloan just out of my pipe dream, but I think Jerry summed it up when he said:

"“I’ve had confrontations with players since I’ve been in the league,” Sloan added. “There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.”"

He’d also be a short-term solution. At 69, how many more road trips, tirades and ass chewing does he have left in the tank?

But maybe, just maybe, with more time off, he’d consider returning to the NBA.