You would think that after all the abuse I’ve sent towards the Pistons about Flip Saunders, I would be celebrating their decision to fire him.
You would be wrong. More on that later.
Today, Joe Dumars let go his third coach in his tenure. This certainly had nowhere near the nastiness or drama as when Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown left the Motor City, yet it still has question marks. More on that later.
This has been written time and time again, but the biggest problem with Detroit was themselves. They had an overconfident, laissez-faire attitude that bit them in the behind three straight years. And why did they have this attitude? Because Flip Saunders allowed it to happen. So should he have been fired? Absolutely. I know I have said plenty to the contrary, but lets be honest Flip Saunders is a good coach. To be more specific, he’s a good regular season coach. In the vein of Carlisle and Rick Adelman, Saunders will win you games he just will not win it all. The reason why? Because he does not have the ability to touch players. Larry Brown did not put up with the Pistons getting complacent, that’s why they were so hungry and that’s why they demolished the Lakers and took the Spurs to 7. Phil Jackson knows how to touch players. Hell, even Doc Rivers to a degree knows how to motivate and touch his players. Flip just seemed like a basketball mind, a great X’s and 0’s guy and probably a good guy but you never got the feeling that he could reach their souls.
Now I’m all for Flip getting fired because he failed to get a championship with a championship caliber team. It was clear that the Pistons and Flip were not going to be able to climb the mountain top. That’s all good. Now here comes the head scratcher I was alluding to earlier.
Joe Dumars decides to replace Flip Saunders with Michael Curry. The same Michael Curry who played for six different teams in his 12-year career. The same guy who never averaged more than 7 points a game. The same Curry who has never had a head coaching gig in his life. And he is getting the keys to the 2005 Bentley.
Now this is what I don’t get….why would you trade a coach who can’t win a championship for another coach who can’t win a championship? Especially a coach who hasn’t even won a regular season game. The logical argument would be that he is a new voice that the players respect. Point well taken and that may be very true. However, if that is the case then why not give the job to Terry Porter? In Porter you have a proven winner in his career: only once did a team he was on not make the playoffs. Not only that you have someone who has been in the coaching ranks for years as an assistant and has head coaching experience.
Working in Curry’s favor are his famed “leadership” (aka what kept him ticking in the league so long) and his supposed ability to relate to the players. We’ll see how long the honeymoon lasts.
At the end of the day the only person who will ever know why Michael Curry is getting this job is Joe Dumars. The thing is…now the heat is on Joe Dumars, whether he knows it or not. This is his signature hire. He gave Carlisle a chance, gambled on Brown and won and then took Flip Saunders. This is his guy that he chose to put into this position. There are no more excuses and no one else to point to if this doesn’t work out.