I've been covering this team since 2000, and have been at every one of their season-ending pow-wows just before the players head off to parts unknown, for the summer.
But this one was unlike any I had seen before.
For starters, head coach Flip Saunders pulled out of the parking lot just a few minutes after all the players arrived. Usually coaches linger around for these things. There are plenty of plausible reasons for his early departure. He might have had a flight to catch, or some other pressing appointment. The conclusion some wanted to reach was that maybe he was fired and replaced by assistant Terry Porter. However, it appears Saunders job is safe ... for now.
Speaking of Porter, he reiterated that despite some reports to the contrary, he has not pulled his name out of the running for any head coaching job. "I'm trying to put it in, not take it out," quipped Porter this morning. He is still considered a leading candidate for the Sacramento Kings job, although an opportunity to coach the Pistons would be more appealing.
If Joe Dumars is thinking about firing Saunders and replacing him with Porter, the Kings' interest in Porter will likely hasten Dumars' decision. Also, Blakely points out that Rip Hamilton and Chris Webber skipped this (voluntary) meeting. Considering it's unlikely Webber returns, that's not a big surprise, but it's too bad Hamilton, a co-captain, couldn't set a good example by being there.
Update: Chris McCosky weighs in:
Despite a swirl of rumors to the contrary, Flip Saunders is going to be back coaching the Pistons next season.
"Yeah, absolutely, that's the plan," said Saunders from his office Monday afternoon. "That subject has never come up (with president Joe Dumars). All we have talked about was what to do about next year and how can we get better."
Saunders said he plans to be shuttling back and forth between here and Minneapolis the next couple of days, but by next week will be here working out players in preparation of the June 28 draft.