Steve Dykes : USA Today Sports
Let the Finger Pointing Begin
By: Hank Rearden
Many questions are being whispered in Detroit as owner Tom Gores states he made the call to fire coach Mo Cheeks after just 50 games.The experiment of having the expensive Josh Smith as small forward with a power forward without a mid-range shot in Greg Monroe and a young and mostly dominating center in Andre Drummond, is one that is an on-going issue. Much of the attention is now on Cheeks and making it his fault. Some feel Cheeks was a poor choice from the start, while others believe he is the scapegoat for what the Pistons are going through. When Cheeks was hired he was looking forward to mentoring Brandon Knight, but instead he ended up with the feistier Brandon Jennings. Cheeks also had run-ins with Josh Smith and most recently with Will Bynum.
The Pistons have been mentioned in the rumor mill for making Josh Smith and/or Greg Monroe available before the trade deadline (Feb 17). Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva are free agents with sizable contracts that could be very desirable for other teams. Stuckey has made his case to be resigned, but is fairly expensive for a 6th man. Villanueva is this year’s Corey Magette and has only. The hope is that the new coach would be able to start fresh after the all-star break with an unchanging roster.
Back in the Summer, many fans were wondering why owner Tom Gores had Phil Jackson come in as a consultant while the coach was chosen. We all would love to know who actually put their faith in Mo Cheeks. Was it President Joe Dumars? Owner Tom Gores? Consultant Phil Jackson? Or was this a ploy by Gores to get long-term Lakers assistant coach to Jackson, Brian Shaw, to come coach the Pistons but got denied? Is it possible that Joe Dumars is too on the hot seat and Phil Jackson has laid claim to his job but will start first with being coach? Is this all a way to get a high dollar free agent, such as Lebron James, into a Pistons jersey?
All conspiracy theories aside, many are suspecting who the new coach will be. ESPN and other sports media sites have mentioned Lionell Hollins. Bad Boy fans are chanting for Bill Laimbeer. It is the WNBA off-season so it would be great timing for this transaction to occur. It is doubtful, knowing Laimbeer, he would bail on a team in the middle of the season. This loyalty is why the Pistons may just consider him. Other Bad Boy fans would not mind Isiah “Zeke” Thomas. He did a pretty good job in Indiana (2000-2003). Once in New York (2006-08) he did mediocre, except for the fact that he ran the team budget higher than any other team while President with bad contracts, before he also became the coach. He would not be hired as President, by anyone again. One thing no one can argue is that Isiah has a great eye for talent while with the expansion team, Toronto Raptors (Executive Vice President, 1994-98). His draft picks were very good (Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby and Tracy McGrady).
It was recently reported that the Pistons have named assistant coach John Loyer (everyone together…WHO?) as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. If this is true, let the tanking accusations begin. If the team ends with one of the top eight picks in this summer’s draft, the Pistons will keep it. Otherwise, it is property of the Charlotte Bobcats from the Ben Gordon trade.
No matter who the Pistons choose as their next head coach, something needs to happen to instill some stability. Since winning it all in 2004, with then coach Larry Brown, they are going on their sixth coach. Six coaches in ten years is not ideal for stability, which can directly impact free agency signings. All of the 2004 team has left, while Chauncey Billups came back this Summer as a point guard and Rasheed Wallace is now a bench coach.
A new era is starting in Detroit. Depending on who they choose as coach will ultimately affect the second half as to playoff hopes and/or draft pick, but also with attracting free agents this Summer once they have over $20 million coming off the books.
Do you think Joe Dumars is next?
Who do you want as the next Pistons coach?
Will the Pistons be buyers or sellers before the trade deadline?
Share your thoughts!