Who Will Be the Next Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons?
For a franchise that has enjoyed such great success over the course of the past decade, the Detroit Pistons have had more than their fair share of head coaches.
In fact, since 2000, they've had six head coaches, including Alvin Gentry, George Irvine, Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, and Flip Saunders. The sixth, Michael Curry, was just fired after his first season at the helm.
Rick Carlisle won the Coach of the Year award in 2001-02, and Larry Brown led the team to an NBA championship in 2004.
Needless to say, it isn't customary to see such a successful team go through so many coaches. Jerry Sloan hasn't even won a championship, and he's been Utah's head man for 20 years now.
So who will Joe Dumars and company turn to next?
The firing of Curry comes on the verge of the free agency period getting underway. It can be safely assumed that the Pistons will be looking for an established NBA head coach to run the show.
There are a few decent candidates out there.
The former NBA head coach-turned-TNT analyst actually coached Detroit for two-plus seasons in the mid-90s, with a record of 121-78.
Collins has a reputation for not being much of a "player's coach." During previous coaching stints, Collins didn't necessarily mesh well with younger players. This could be a cause for concern for the Pistons, as their point guard, Rodney Stuckey, definitely qualifies as a young player.
While he coached the Chicago Bulls in the late 1980s, Collins would try time and time again to draw up plays to get players other than Michael Jordan involved.
When you have the best player on the planet on your team, what's the point of trying to coach away from him?
One plus is that Collins has a reputation for being a master of NBA X's and O's. This could prove beneficial for getting the team's most potent offensive threat, Richard Hamilton, involved.
While he may be a decent coach, I'm not sure Collins is the right fit for the Pistons.
Johnson's reputation for not being a "player's coach" is fairly similar to that of Collins.
Toward the end of his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks, it came out that a few of the players were going to demand to be traded if Johnson wasn't fired immediately. Johnson was subsequently fired.
If the Pistons still had Chauncey Billups running the show, hiring Johnson would be a home run.
Johnson is a great defensive coach, and defense is what the Pistons had hung their hat on while making all those consecutive runs deep into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
However, Johnson didn't work well at all with then-Mavs point guard Devin Harris, and some say Johnson hindered Harris' development. It's unlikely to be a coincidence that Harris flourished into an All-Star caliber player in his first season away from Johnson.
I doubt the Pistons want Johnson doing the same to Stuckey.
Jeff Van Gundy
Van Gundy, like Johnson, is a great defensive coach.
This would work perfectly for the Pistons.
Unlike Johnson, Van Gundy doesn't have any track record of trying to control the team's point guard to a point where improvisation is frowned upon.
One thing Van Gundy isn't too keen on is giving young players a whole lot of playing time.
However, with the dearth of talent currently on Detroit's roster, I don't see how Van Gundy would have any other choice.
This is something that would also work perfectly for the Pistons.
The only problem, in my opinion, could be lack of interest from Van Gundy.
Detroit's roster has crumbled since last season, a season in which they limped into the playoffs as an eighth seed and got swept by the Cleveland LeBrons.
Their only three building blocks appear to be Tayshaun Prince, Hamilton, and Stuckey.
The Pistons have tons of cap space to spend this summer, but with recent news that Carlos Boozer will not be available, it's unlikely that Detroit will be able to do much of anything to vault them back into championship contention.
However, if Van Gundy did prove to be interested, I think this would be a perfect fit for both parties.
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