Thursday, July 21, 2011
Sources: Pistons tab Lawrence Frank
By Marc Stein
The Detroit Pistons have chosen Lawrence Frank to be their new head coach, according to sources with knowledge of the team's thinking.
The Pistons have selected Frank over former Detroit assistant Mike Woodson, with sources telling ESPN.com that the decision signals the growing influence in the organization of former New York Knicks executive Dave Checketts.
Yahoo! Sports first reported that Frank's hiring is imminent. The Associated Press reported that Frank will have a formal contract offer from Detroit within the next two days.
ESPN.com reported last week that the Pistons had narrowed their search down to Frank and Woodson and that Frank had made a strong impression on the Pistons' new ownership. That nudged the Boston Celtics assistant coach ahead of Woodson, who sources said was the preferred choice of longtime Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars.
As ESPN.com reported last month, Checketts was installed as a team consultant by Pistons owner Tom Gores when Gores finally completed his purchase of the team. Strong meetings with Gores and Checketts, sources said, enabled Frank to win out over a field that also included three assistant coaches with no NBA head-coaching experience (Kelvin Sampson, Bill Laimbeer and Patrick Ewing).
Since the search began after the long-anticipated firing of John Kuester on June 5, Woodson was widely considered the favorite for the post in NBA coaching circles, thanks largely to Woodson's good working relationship with Dumars and the fact that Detroit would know exactly what it's getting after Woodson's work under Larry Brown during the Pistons' 2004 title run.
But Frank has apparently convinced the Pistons that a season working under Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers enhanced his ability to relate to players, which is a priority in Detroit after two seasons filled with locker-room tension during Kuester's reign and similar strained player-coach relations during the brief stint of Kuester predecessor Michael Curry.
Dumars continues to serve as Detroit's lead basketball decision-maker, with Gores announced when he officially took control of the franchise that "we're going to lean on (Dumars) pretty heavily."
But the hiring of Frank is another indication that Checketts' voice is also being heard. Sources said that the decision to interview Ewing, an Orlando Magic assistant, likewise originated with Checketts.
Frank was 225-241 in parts of seven seasons coaching the New Jersey Nets before joining Rivers' staff in Boston this past season, replacing Tom Thibodeau, who was hired to coach the Chicago Bulls.
|Lawrence Frank, shown here while an assistant with the Boston Celtics, is expected to become the new coach of the Detroit Pistons, sources tell ESPN.com.|
Woodson, who interviewed for Minnesota's coaching vacancy earlier this week, elected to take the Atlanta Hawks' job before Brown's final season in Detroit instead of waiting to see how long it would take to inherit the job from Brown. He posted a record of 206-286 in six seasons in Atlanta, advancing to the second round of the playoffs twice.
Checketts' consulting and investment firm for sports teams, SCP Worldwide, currently owns Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer and is trying to sell the NHL's St. Louis Blues.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.