Detroit Pistons: Top 5 Head Coaching Prospects

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent IMay 1, 2013

Detroit Pistons: Top 5 Head Coaching Prospects

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    The Detroit Pistons did the right thing after the season ended and let head coach Lawrence Frank go.

    The team had regressed under his watch, and he seemed to lose their confidence toward the middle and end of the year.

    Now that that ugly bit of news is done, it is time for the Pistons to move forward and find their next head coach.

    This process should prove daunting, but not impossible.

    The Pistons have gained a reputation as a team that goes through head coaches like some people go through socks. That doesn't exactly get the prospective coaches excited about this team.

    They also are coming off of yet another losing season and haven't made the playoffs in this decade.

    But this squad is not void of talent; they have two of the most talented young big men in the league in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. They also have a dynamic young scorer in Brandon Knight and a load of cap space to go along with this year's likely top-seven pick.

    So before we get into the particulars of what each coach would be worth, let's pare down the Pistons' wish list.

    First off, let's take Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan off the list. Sloan is too old and Jackson won't coach small-market teams that don't possess a superstar.

    And let's assume for a second that the elite college coaches like Rick Pitino and Coach K at Duke are non-options as well.

    So let's take a look at five potential head coaching options for the Detroit Pistons.

Kelvin Sampson

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    College experience: 21 Years, 425-227, .652 percent at Washington State, Oklahoma and Indiana


    Kelvin Sampson had a very good college coaching career but was ultimately ousted after breaking NCAA rules involving text messaging.

    His career was good but not spectacular. He made 14 NCAA tournaments yet only had 12 wins and made it to the Final Four only once.

    Since then, he has been an assistant coach around the NBA, most notably with San Antonio and most recently with the Houston Rockets.

    Sampson has a reputation of being a smart, patient coach that is a player's coach.

    The biggest knock against Sampson is that he has never had an NBA head coaching job, which would put him in the John Kuester and Michael Curry category. He also is quite a bit older than the players, which can have its limitations, especially because his resume in the NBA is so short.

    Personally, I think that Sampson could have a very good career as a head coach. But I think that it is just too big of a gamble to bring in a guy that has never been in that first chair at the professional level.

Lindsey Hunter

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    Pro Experience: 12-29, .293 percentage with Phoenix Suns


    Recently, Detroit Free Press writer Vince Ellis floated the idea of former Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter potentially being a candidate for Detroit's head coaching job.

    On the face of it, Hunter seems like a solid choice. He is a smart player who has always been considered a leader on the court.

    He also has the benefit of being younger, so it stands to reason he should be able to relate pretty well to today's younger players.

    That being said, he had an atrocious record as head coach of the Phoenix Suns. In fact, the Suns actually won one fewer game with Hunter at the helm than they did before he was promoted over the exact same amount of games. 

    Now, this isn't to say that players didn't improve under his watch, but Hunter still is too much of an unproven commodity.

Stan Van Gundy

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    Pro experience: 371-208, .641 percentage with Miami Heat and Orlando Magic


    Stan Van Gundy enjoyed plenty of success coaching the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic over the past decade-plus.

    He has five 50-win seasons under his belt and made it to the NBA Finals in 2009.

    Van Gundy's biggest disadvantage is that he has a strong personality. He is perceived by some as a prima donna.

    He had a very public divorce from both of the franchises he coached for and had a very dramatic breakup with star center Dwight Howard.

    Those types of blemishes on your record can make teams apprehensive about giving you a shot.

    Especially the Pistons, who have gone the diva route before with Larry Brown.

    At the same time, they did go to back-to-back Finals with Brown and win a title.

    This begs the question of who is going to be the one making this hire. If it is team president Joe Dumars, he likely will pass on selecting a coach with such a huge personality.

    If it is team owner Tom Gores, he could be swayed by Van Gundy's resume.

    This could end up being an interesting choice. But the Pistons won't be the only team looking at Van Gundy.

Nate McMillan

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    Pro experience: 478-452, .514 percent with the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Supersonics


    Nate McMillan was one of the hottest names in coaching back when he first took the reins for the Seattle SuperSonics back in 2000.

    There are plenty of reasons to believe that McMillan would be a good coach. He was a very smart player that specialized in excellent defense and controlled, mistake-free point guard play.

    In Seattle he had some success, taking the Sonics to the playoffs twice and winning 52 games in 2005.

    After leaving the Sonics, he was hired by the Portland Trail Blazers and took the team to the playoffs three straight years, losing in the first round in six games each time.

    The Blazers eventually fired McMillan last year, and he hasn't had a head coaching job since.

    McMillan is a good teacher. He knows how to relate to his players and focuses mainly on defensive play and ball control.

    That being said, he is awful at in-game adjustments and doesn't have a very good hold on coaching instincts.

    His teams tend to play hard but somewhat underachieve, and he was routinely outcoached during the playoffs.

    That being said, the Pistons are a few years away from sustained playoff success, so McMillan wouldn't be the worst hire to try to get the most out of their young guys.

Scott Skiles

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    Pro experience: 443-433, .506 percentage with Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks


    Scott Skiles is a familiar name to local sports fans. Skiles went to Michigan State and was drafted in the first round in 1986 by the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Skiles as a coach has all of the makings of a successful skipper. He is relatively young, fiery and smart.

    However, Skiles has seen his coaching stock plummet thanks to a reputation as a somewhat difficult leader.

    At each of his three stops, Skiles starts out strong but eventually wears out his welcome and his voice gets tuned out.

    In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Doug Collins as a coach. In the first couple of years he gets the most out of his guys, but by the third or fourth year, they are ready to hear a new voice.

    Skiles also doesn't have the best coaching resume. His first two years as a coach were his best, and since then he only has three seasons with a winning percentage better than .500.

    Skiles certainly has a high level of basketball intelligence, but something tells me the days of the screaming coach are going the way of the dodo. Today's stars just can't handle all of that yelling.

    The Pistons are better off looking elsewhere.