Mistake in Motown: Lawrence Frank Move Is the Wrong One for Detroit Pistons
With Kelvin Sampson taking another job, the finalists had come down to Frank, Mike Woodson and Bill Laimbeer. Nobody really believed that Laimbeer was strongly considered, and this begs a question that the Detroit News' Terry Foster asked: Why is Joe Dumars afraid of his old teammates?
Now, I am not Foster's biggest fan, but he really does have a point here. However, I don't think he fully asked the right question, nor came to the right conclusion. He concluded that this hire was all Tom Gores' idea.
Personally, I think this is a microcosm of what Dumars has become. When he took over this job, he was a guy that bled Pistons red, white and blue. He still is. However, he was someone that wanted to win at all costs. Now, he wants to win, but on his terms.
That is why he chooses to bring on coaches that he can handle, that won't try to interfere with personnel decisions. That is why veteran coaches are not even considered. That is also why strong personalities are not considered either.
Dumars wants all decisions on his plate, and he wants his coach to sit in silence and do whatever is asked of him. But if you look at the coaches that have been successful for this franchise, they have a lot of personality. They also are strong willed, a trait that players crave.
I'm not saying Frank is John Kuester. He has some relevant experience. But he doesn't have good experience with this type of situation. He started out with a veteran team and he rode that out fairly successfully. But as his vets were dealt and as his roster got younger and less talented, he lost his way.
Frank is young enough to bow down to Dumars on personnel decisions, and desperate enough for another job to be grateful for the opportunity. Why else do you think that veteran coaches with strong wills were not even mentioned as options here?
Jeff Van Gundy, Rick Adelman, heck, even Phil Jackson were all available or possibly available. Each has been a winner. But each would challenge Dumars, and he doesn't want that from a coach. He learned his lesson from Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle.
He prefers someone like Flip Saunders, someone that Frank closely resembles career-wise. And that is not what players respond to, especially young, undisciplined ones.
So what was the argument against Laimbeer? Lack of head coaching experience, for one. But Tom Thibodeau was similarly inexperienced, yet put together a heck of a year.
The real problem with Laimbeer is that he is strong willed and would challenge Dumars. Joe doesn't want that.
So then what was the problem with Mike Woodson? His career arc is exactly the opposite of Frank's. He took a young team and made it better each year. He seems to be ideally suited to this situation.
But he also has a commanding presence, and would force Dumars to step up his game.
The problem is not necessarily that Frank is the wrong choice, though I do believe he is. The problem is that Dumars has become so isolated in his ivory tower that he cannot have anyone with a pulse manning the head coaching job.
And that is a serious problem as this team craves a front man with the testicular fortitude to push this franchise.
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