Pistons question coach Frank after dismal start to season
By Ben Golliver
Take a seat and prepare yourself for two pieces of truly shocking news: a Lawrence Frank team is off to an atrocious start and Pistons veterans aren’t shy about pointing fingers at their coach.
In 2009-10, Frank started 0-16 with the Nets and was canned. In 2011-12, Frank started 4-20. In 2012-13, the Pistons started 0-8 and are currently 2-10 after nearly going scoreless during the third quarter of a Wednesday loss to the Magic. After that game, multiple Pistons aired some frustration at Frank, who called out his team’s lack of “energy” during the loss to Orlando.
The Detroit News reported that 11-year veteran forward Tayshaun Prince openly second-guessed his coach for not doing more to stop Orlando’s second-half run.
“Energy ain’t the only thing,” said Prince, noting the poor possessions to begin quarters that plague this team. “That isn’t my decision but we need to figure out some things to do when teams are making runs to get us a good opportunity at the rim or the foul line.”
“If I was Coach, I would’ve made a decision sooner than he did,” Prince said. “A 6-0 run, call a timeout. Bam-bam, we come back out, nothing happens, bam (make a substitution). If you gotta make a choice, you have to make a choice. (He) went too long.”
The Detroit Free Press also reported that six-year veteran guard Will Bynum is confused by Frank’s lineup juggling.
“I’m having to adjust to everybody. I’m playing with so many different people. First I go from not playing with (Rodney) Stuckey to playing with Stuckey every day. I go from playing with Kyle all the time to never playing with Kyle. I’m playing with Tayshaun (Prince). Early on I was playing with Brandon (Knight) and I never played with him in two years since I’ve been here. It’s all over the place right now.”
Looming over these comments, or any comments made by Pistons players towards the coaching staff, is a February 2011 incident in which Rip Hamilton and Chris Wilcox were fined for skipping a shootaround, in what was dubbed a “mutiny” against then coach John Kuester. Prince also missed the shootaround but was not disciplined. A month before the walkout, though, he had famously referred to Kuester’s decision to give Hamilton a DNP-CD as “buffoonery.”
The Pistons hired Frank to replace Kuester at season’s end and Frank is the team’s fourth coach since the end of the 2008 season. That decision clearly did little to change the climate in Detroit. The Pistons are doomed to repeat these clashes between players and coaches until management truly cleans house.
As noted earlier this season, it’s time for a full-scale rebuilding effort around the team’s young core trio: Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond. The wins and losses don’t matter; this team, even if all the veterans magically regain their top form, is going nowhere. Frank can juggle all he wants, there’s simply not enough talent assembled. The Pistons can pin all of this on Frank if they really want to, they’ll realize soon enough that he’s far from the biggest problem.
The Pistons are at least two seasons away from being decent but the next 18 months represent a valuable development period for the faces of their future. Detroit either gets busy rebuilding — shedding veteran players and their contracts — or they welcome the same old dysfunctional cycle. This should be a very easy choice.