George Irvine. Rick Carlisle. Larry Brown. Flip Sauders. Michael Curry. John Kuester. Lawrence Frank. Maurice Cheeks. John Loyer. These are the names of the Detroit Pistons head coaches since Joe Dumars took over the team’s basketball operations department in 2000. Carlisle went on to win an NBA Title with the Dallas Mavericks. Larry Brown won a Title with Detroit, but wanted out a year later. Flip Saunders currently runs the basketball operations for the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves. Lawrence Frank (who was demoted a little while ago off the Brooklyn Nets bench because he was clashing with his former star point guard and current Nets head coach, Jason Kidd) and Mo Cheeks are more than competent basketball coaches, and they will get chances to be head coaches again somewhere else. When you go through that many good coaches in 14 years, your franchise has bigger problems than coaching.
In the early years of his tenure, Dumars looked like a genius. The Hall of Fame player and Detroit fan favorite brought in guys like Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, and Rasheed Wallace, and turned them into a championship contender. Under Larry Brown, they beat the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Pistons were champions again. In 2003, Dumars was in position to improve the franchise immensely with the 2nd overall pick in the draft, but ended up squandering that chance when he drafted Darko Milicic after LeBron James went 1st, leaving Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade on the table. LeBron is the best player in the NBA today. Wade and Bosh are Hall of Famers and champions in their own right. Carmelo Anthony is one of the best scorers in the NBA. Milicic never got off the ground in Detroit and has bounced around the NBA. He last played for the Boston Celtics in 2012. Top five picks in deep drafts are hard to come by, and Dumars botched that one as badly as he possibly could.
In 2008, Dumars traded Billups, the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for an aged Allen Iverson. Iverson did not do much to improve the Pistons, while Billups helped the Nuggets reach the Western Conference Finals that year. After that Dumars made a series of bad free agent signings, including Ben Gordon and Charlie Villaneuva, who were solid role players with their previous teams, but not worthy of the expensive contracts they signed in Detroit.
While Dumars did make a great draft selection in Andre Drummond with the 9th pick in the 2012 draft, the free agent signing of Josh Smith in the summer of 2013 is a questionable one. I’m afraid the revolving door at the head coach position could negatively effect Drummond’s development into the dominant NBA center he has the potential to be. This week Dumars fired Maurice Cheeks, and it’s John Loyer’s turn to coach the team on an interim basis. when you fire that many coaches, the coaches can’t be the whole problem. It baffles me that Dumars still has a job when the Pistons haven’t been a legitimate contender since 2008, and he should lose his job soon. Then again, I thought that back in 2010, and it still hasn’t happened.