Lawrence Frank did not say: ‘You can’t both develop players and try to win’

Via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

"Just because you throw a guy out there for 30 minutes, that could be the worst thing you could do because it could reinforce all the bad habits," Frank said. "If he’s not doing what he should be doing, how can you look at the guys in your locker room and say you’re about the right things? You can’t both develop players and try to win."

Let’s start with that last sentence in isolation. It’s EXTREMELY troubling. Well-run teams do both all the time, but let’s say the Pistons can’t do both right now. I’d absolutely choose player development over trying to win. The Pistons probably don’t have good enough players to win right now. They probably do have enough unrefined talent to win in the future.

I want to give Lawrence Frank the benefit of the doubt that those last two sentence come in tandem – that he meant you can’t develop players who aren’t doing what they should be doing and try to win. But even if that’s what he meant, I still have issues with it. Developing the team’s young players should be his No. 1 priority this season. I’m not advocating playing someone who does all the wrong things. But if he’s a mixed bag, maybe more minutes would get him on the right track.

UPDATE: Keith Langlois of has a very similar quote attributed to Frank, except it says the exact opposite:

“You can both develop players and try to win – that’s the name of the game.”

I’ve emailed both seeking clarification. I’ll update again when I get a response.

UPDATE II: Goodwill:

It should be "can". Must’ve been a typo or editors error.

So, we can stop worrying about Frank essentially saying he was a terrible coach, because that didn’t happen. Let’s go back to evaluating Frank based more on what he does, less on what he says. And while he might not give the young players as many minutes as we’d like, he played Andre Drummond 31 minutes last night, so that’s a definite step in the right direction.