- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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The Detroit Pistons, as widely expected, fired coach Lawrence Frank on Thursday.
His dismissal had been expected for some time, after the young Pistons lost 27 of 36 games in the second half of the season before winning four of their final five.
Frank guided the Pistons to a 29-53 mark this season and was 54-94 overall in two campaigns.
"We thank Lawrence for his hard work and dedication, but we feel it is in the best interest of the franchise to make a change at this time," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "Decisions like this are never easy and we wish Lawrence well in the future."
ESPN.com reported two weeks ago that Frank was the most likely coach in the league to be ousted. According to sources, Frank had been resigned to his fate for several days.
A meeting Thursday with Pistons owner Tom Gores finally confirmed Frank's ouster, after Gores offered tepid public support of his coach earlier this week when he spoke to local reporters. Frank was believed to be largely Gores' choice to replace John Kuester in summer 2011, and NBA coaching sources maintain that Dumars preferred current Knicks coach Mike Woodson for the job.
After the Pistons' season-ending loss in Brooklyn, Frank acknowledged that the mounting speculation about his future had taken its toll.
"Unfortunately, it's been too long a talk for too long," Frank told reporters Wednesday night. "It's been going on for a while, so it's not like this just jumped up and it's a news flash.
"Because you have to answer the question every day, it's something you do give some thought to."
Gores said before the season that he expected the Pistons, despite their youth, to reach the playoffs this season. Dumars is expected to remain despite the rough season, thanks largely to the considerable salary-cap space that the Pistons are positioned to have this summer, along with the promise shown by two young big men Dumars drafted: Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
The Pistons started the season 0-8 and won just once in March, amplifying rumblings in coaching circles that Frank's players had stopped responding to him. On top of three straight home defeats by at least 26 points, Detroit also lost by 32 points in Los Angeles against the Clippers on March 10, with the L.A.-based Gores courtside.
The season has been difficult for Frank on a personal level as well. His wife had been ill, forcing him to miss a handful of those March defeats.
Frank was scheduled to earn a reported $4 million next season, with the Pistons holding a $4 million team option for the 2014-15 season.
The Pistons haven't reached the playoffs since 2007-08. Frank went to the playoffs three times in six seasons coaching the New Jersey Nets before his dismissal in 2009, then worked as an assistant in Boston under Doc Rivers.
5hChris Broussard and Brian Windhorst