It's funny what passes for news during a lockout. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported yesterday that -- surprise! -- the Detroit Pistons' coaching search has boiled down to Mike Woodson and Lawrence Frank, setting off a domino effect of reports in Detroit's media either citing Stein's report or independently confirming the news without actually mentioning his name. (Bad form, Perry A. Farrell. It looks petty, especially when a co-worker already credited Stein 14 hours earlier.)
In any case, Stein calls Woodson "the closest thing to a favorite," mostly because of Dumars' familiarity with Woodson from 2004. Tom Gores, however, has his own opinion. Stein reports:
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.
Stein also confirmed yet again what we've heard all along: part of the reason these two have emerged as frontrunners is because Dumars is reluctant to hire a first-time head coach after striking out with Michael Curry and John Kuester. That's too bad, because the failures of Curry and Kuester have nothing to do with anybody not named Curry or Kuester. It's like betting on roulette based on what colors came up last.
Dumars struck gold a decade ago by giving Rick Carlisle his first break, and Carlisle might still be around had Dumars not set in motion Detroit's unspoken philosophy of disposable coaches. (I'm not saying dumping Carlisle for Larry Brown didn't work, but the Pistons have been paying for that move ever since. But I digress.)
Even if Gores hasn't convinced Dumars to expand his search beyond the tired frontrunners we've heard for months, at least he's not being swayed by familiarity. Sure, Woodson might be the right choice, but Frank may be as well. It's not an either/or situation -- they each would likely have some measure of success if Dumars does his part in fixing the roster, which includes balancing the depth chart and pruning the malcontents. (Then again, the same could have been said for Kuester, who was likely promised as much when he was hired, had he been retained.)
I just wish Dumars would use the lockout to his advantage. Without free agency or trades to distract him, he has all the time in the world to devote to interviewing and recruiting candidates. Has he tried to speak with Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer? Or Rick Adelman? Or anybody on this humungous list of options? Coaching hires are usually rush jobs, but the Pistons have the time to conduct the most thorough coaching search in the history of the NBA. (Maybe this is actually happening, but if it is, he's done an amazing job keeping a lid on it.) So why settle on the first two names that popped into our collective consciousness two months ago?
(Broken record time: However Dumars spends his summer, don't expect an announcement anytime soon. Gores knows how to protect his bottom line -- just ask the dozens of employees fired earlier this month -- so I'd shocked to see him start the clock on a multimillion dollar lockout before the lockout is resolved.)