Lawrence Frank is not the leader in the clubhouse for the Detroit Pistons head coaching job, but he is close. The Celtics’ lilliputian assistant coach impressed the Detroit front office during the interview process and remains a finalist for the Detroit position. (ESPN)
NBA coaching sources say that the Pistons are inching closer to a decision, though.
Of the five known candidates for job, sources say that former Pistons assistant Mike Woodson is still the closest thing to a favorite, thanks largely to Woodson’s good working relationship with Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and the fact that Detroit would know exactly what it’s getting after Woodson’s work under Larry Brown during the Pistons’ 2004 title run.
Yet sources say that one reason Detroit’s search has dragged out so long is the strong impression that Lawrence Frank made on new Pistons owner Tom Gores and his advisers, among them former New York Knicks executive Dave Checketts.
Detroit’s choice, then, appears to be a tossup between the unattached Woodson and Frank, who remains part of Doc Rivers’ staff in Boston.
The other three known candidates to get interviews are Kelvin Sampson (about to leave Milwaukee to become Kevin McHale’s lead assistant in Houston), Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer (last seen on Rambis’ staff in Minnesota) and Checketts favorite Patrick Ewing (from Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Orlando). But sources have maintained throughout the process that Detroit’s preference is to hire a coach with previous head-coaching experience in the NBA after the recent unsuccessful stints for first-time head coaches Kuester and Michael Curry.
When Tom Thibodeau was still a coaching free agent, I knew he deserved a head job. I watched Boston’s defense every night, and that was enough to know Thibs would succeed elsewhere. With Frank, I’m not quite as confident. What did he do in Boston? He coached a defense with Thibodeau’s principles. He screamed his head off. He lathered on sun screen to keep from sun burn, even in the winter. What did he do when he was head coach in New Jersey? He won games with talent, lost games without it. Three seasons above .500, three seasons below .500 and one season at 41-41. He won his first 13 games in New Jersey and lost his final 16. Nothing to keep him from getting another job. But nothing that shouts, “This guy’s a perfect head coaching candidate!”, either.
Perhaps Frank will succeed elsewhere. He obviously has quite a reputation—hell, he has interviewed for almost every opening this summer. But I don’t have the same confidence in Frank that I did with Thibs. Frank just isn’t as sure of a home run—even if he’s born on my mother’s birthday, one hell of a day.