BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
As we get set for a Dallas Mavericks rematch with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, Pistons fans are very familiar with the man running the show in Texas.
Remember Rick Carlisle?
All he did was guide Detroit to a pair of 50-32 records (100-64) and two playoff berths from 2001-2003. Carlisle wasn't out of work long as he landed with division rival Indiana and he guided the Pacers to a 181-147 record in four seasons as they reached the playoffs three times. Now he's led the Mavericks to the playoffs in all three of his seasons in "Big D."
Even though the Pistons won the 2004 NBA Championship with Larry Brown as Carlisle's successor, how many Detroit fans would love to have Rick back now? I know I would.
But as it stands now, the man roaming the sidelines is John Kuester. He has a 57-105 record in two seasons marked by clashes with several players. He is owed the final season of a three-year contract he signed in the summer of 2009.
Will new Owner Tom Gores keep him around for a third season? If the Pistons are smart then Gores will bite the bullet and fire him even if it means there will be two coaches on the payroll. I do believe that even though Gores is new to the basketball business, he'll get another coach.
One coach he won't get is former Cleveland Cavaliers Boss Mike Brown, who is on the verge of being hired by the Los Angeles Lakers.
What type of coach do the Pistons need? One that commands respect and has a winning track record but most of all is experienced.
Unless there is a mystery candidate that I don't know about, here are the veterans that I would like to see as My Top Choices.
1) Mike Dunleavy Sr. has a record that is interesting because he was able to win with both Los Angeles' franchises. He led the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 1990-91 and coached there for two years. His next stops were four seasons apiece with the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers then took on a position in the NBA "Coaching Graveyard" with the Clippers for 6.5 seasons. Dunleavy Sr. is the last coach to lead the Clippers into the playoffs in 2005-2006 season and guided them to a 7-5 mark. His overall record in the playoffs is 38-33 and in the regular season is 613-716. The 57-year-old Brooklyn, NY., native who played his college ball at the University of South Carolina, still has the fire to make his fifth stop his final one.
2) Rick Adelman was the opposing coach when Chuck Daly defeated him during the Bad Boys era in 1989-90. Two years later, Adelman would lose to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals. During his coaching career that has taken him from Portland to Golden State, Sacramento and Houston, he has compiled a 945-616 mark and is 79-78 in the playoffs. The only drawback with Adelman is he turns 65 on June 16.
3) The most obvious choice would be Mike Woodson, who was a Pistons assistant coach under Larry Brown during the championship season in 2004. This success led Woodson to the Atlanta Hawks where he would lead them to a 206-286 mark. He led the Hawks to the playoffs in his final three seasons in Georgia compiling an 11-18 mark. But do Dumars and Gores want another former Brown assistant since Kuester came from that "Coaching Tree?"
4) Will the Pistons be able to pluck Jeff Van Gundy from the cozy microphones of ABC and ESPN? Van Gundy is a defensive coach and while his brand of basketball may not be the most entertaining, all he does is win. The 49-year old native of Hemet, CA., who went to Nazareth College, compiled a 430-318 regular season record and is 44-44 in the playoffs. He has had plenty of time to recharge his battery since the last time he was on the sidelines was in 2006-07 with the Houston Rockets. Any guy that is on the bottom of a pile during a fight in a Miami Heat/New York Knicks series has enough fire to energize my team.
While there may be other good coaching candidates out there that have been assistant coaches such Brian Shaw and Chuck Person, I still prefer to go the experienced route.
Maybe Gores will encourage Dumars to interview Bill Laimbeer. I really believe that Laimbeer will be a good head coach with his successful tenure with the Detroit Shock. He has been instrumental in the development of All-Star Power Forward/Center Kevin Love as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
If Laimbeer does get a head coaching job, his attitude will have to be much better towards the media than it was as a player since he'll need them to promote his team to sell tickets.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.
- Scott Morganroth
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