Detroit Pistons

Detroit "flippin" around

Less than 24 hours after severing ties with Larry Brown, the Detroit Pistons agreed to a contract with new head-coach Flip Saunders. With a 4-year, $20 million contract, you have to admire Saunders for his courage…or is it stupidity?When Larry Brown came back in the middle of the season after the first surgical procedure, the Pistons had reportedly been talking to Flip. After a few signs of weakness from Larry Brown, Detroit decided it was time to get rid of him. The “talks” between the coach and team, have been going on since the NBA Championship. (I might add that the title came down to a Game 7, but the Spurs were able to stumble through it, pulling it out in the end.) And while the Pistons wanted Brown to step aside, he insisted that he would coach if he was able to. The Pistons seemed to think their head-coach was stringing them along, with his agent telling the team that Larry would be there at training camp. But Detroit had concerns about his stability, and instead of waiting it out, they parted ways with the Hall of Fame coach.

In the first 24 hours since firing Larry Brown, there has been a plethora of controversy over what actually happened. And in the first 12 hours, the Pistons management did not want to give the media a straight answer. And, when a member of the Pistons organization was asked if Brown had been fired, “Say what you want,” was the answer.

I deplore the Pistons for how they handled Larry Brown. It wasn’t such a bad situation with him coaching in Motown. Two trips to the championship, one title, and giving everything to his team. It might not be so bad if Detroit had outright fired the coach, instead of stringing HIM along. Because as soon as San Antonio dethroned the champs, management turned on Brown because of his “instability.” It’s not as if Brown was not dedicated to the Pistons, because he was. I wholeheartedly believe that, had he been able to coach, he would have. His health issues did not mean that he would give up on the team and push them aside. We all saw him in the finals; pacing up and down the court, shouting out instructions to the players. And when Mason announced his name over the P.A. system in Detroit, you could see that Larry Brown was happy to be there.

Flip Saunders wanders into a flood of expectations in Detroit. He comes to a team where success isn’t success, unless they win the Finals. But it’s not as if Detroit is bringing in a third-string coach. Saunders’s success with Minnesota was limited, because he was managing a bunch of overpaid players, who couldn’t play defense to save their life. Also, Flip’s relationship with Kevin McHale wasn’t great, so the coach didn’t have much leverage as far as improving his roster. Detroit’s new head-coach has a mind for offense. His creativity when his team has the ball was one of the reasons (and there were very few), that his T-Wolves made it to the playoffs. Coming to a team where their defense has been nearly impeccable, Saunders can now work on improving the offense, getting the ball to outside shooters like Chauncy and Rip, and also feeding the ball inside to Rasheed and Big Ben. Basically, Saunders now has more tools, and can create a more balanced offense in Detroit. This will help them to pull away from opponents in the fourth quarter, thus eliminating a lot of close games. Had he been coaching even a slightly better team the last 8-10 years, Flip Saunders would not have Motown panicking. Other than Kevin Garnett, Flip had nothing to work with in Minnesota. And when Cassell and Chauncy left the team, his options shrunk considerably. Flip will be reunited with Chauncy, and takes on the tough task of returning the crown to the Palace.

The Knicks have almost been begging Larry Brown to come coach in New York. The coach has remarked in the past that coaching in New York would be his “dream job.” Here’s a golden opportunity for him to bring some stability to a team that has had anything but that. They’ve switched a lot of things within their organization in the past years, including the departure of Lenny Wilkins.

Now, Isiah Thomas is pleading with the former-Detroit coach, to come and ease New York’s pain. The contract would appear to be a 5-year deal, worth roughly $60 million. The last time we saw the Knicks succeed, was in the 98-99′ season. I can still remember the seconds ticking down, as Latrell Sprewell fought under the basket with the Admiral and Duncan. Finally, throwing the ball up as the buzzer sounded, Sprewell was the last one to hold the ball in the final seconds of New York’s 90s’ basketball greatness. Ever since then, the Knicks have struggled to keep their heads above water, making it to the playoffs in the spring of 04′, with a record under .500. Ewing, Sprewell, even Charlie Ward had helped the team, and when they left, Ewing and Ward both going to Houston in different roles, the Knicks were left stranded.

When they aquired Stephon Marbury, the light at the end of the tunnel seemed a little bigger, and a little brighter. And a new Knicks president, Isiah Thomas, looked to turn New York’s losing ways around. But their first season with the all-star point guard did not bring results, and the Knicks went into the off-season hungry for a chance to prove themselves.

If Larry Brown’s health holds up, I would expect him to come to New York. It would be a challenge for Brown, in many ways. First, there is still obviously the condition of his health. If he has to step down at any point during the season, that could hurt the Knicks tremendously, as their team has quite a few young, undeveloped players. Although they have veterans such as Houston, Hardaway, and Marbury, those three cannot take all of the newcomers under their wings.

Also, in the news of late, has been the Darko Milicic, the seven-foot center out of Serbia & Montenegro. Even though Milicic was the number two pick in the 03′ draft, he has yet to see a commitment from the Pistons to play him. And as Detroit’s low-post has Sheed’ and Ben Wallace, they don’t really need Milicic at this point. So why do I bring this up? Why do I mention the career 1.6 points per game scorer? Because the reason he has not gotten the chance to develop, is Larry Brown.

Brown is notorious for getting tired and frustrated at the new guys. He does not like to play them at all. Which is why he didn’t use Milicic, unless it was a blowout, mostly in the 4th quarter. Coaching in New York could be extremely challanging for Larry, because he will have to nurture his young players to a certain degree, to run a productive team.

But with the Knicks having a lot of those players-players who need time and experience to mature in the NBA, I wonder if Brown will have the patience to succeed in New York City.

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2 replies on “Detroit "flippin" around”

pretty good Hi Kent, I really like your article. But I think that the Pistons made the right move in firing Brown. They need assurances in a coaching position, and Brown was not able to provide that for them.
Your website is awesome, did you design it yourself?

Cool Cool website dude and I like your article…your articles on your website are pretty awesome too.

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