Saturday, March 8, 2014

Looking Ahead to Next Year: Head Coach

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Looking Ahead to Next Year: Preview, GM

Yet another embarrassing loss for the Pistons leads us into another segment of Looking Ahead to Next Year, where we'll discuss players who aren't under contract for next season, as well as who might be leading next year's team as the head coach.  It seems like every year that the Pistons are at least considering replacing their coach, as the position has been a revolving door during Dumars' tenure as GM.  That tenure certainly seems to be coming to an end, and it appears a new GM will be appointing the Pistons next head coach.  Whoever it is, and whoever appoints them, it will be the Pistons' sixth different head coach since the start of the 2008-09 season. 

John Loyer's tenure as the interim head coach got off to a good start when the Pistons beat the Spurs at The Palace in his debut, 109-100.  However, since then the Pistons have only won two games in their last 11 tries, and are 3-9 since Loyer took over.  The same problems that plagued the team throughout the first 50 games have been an issue in the last 12.  The Pistons don't take smart shots, move on offense or get back on defense against teams that can score in transition.  All things considered, Loyer has looked overmatched as a head coach, and certainly won't be allowed to return next season.  John Loyer seems like a nice guy and is probably a decent basketball coach, but this team needs a brilliant mind and a strong, vocal leader.  He is neither; so let's take an early look at who might be the next Pistons' head coach.

  • Phil Jackson: Let's get this out of the way early.  Phil Jackson isn't coming back to coach a team.  Phil Jackson isn't coming back to coach a team.  Phil Jackson isn't coming back to coach a team.  Phil Jackson isn't coming back to coach a team.  Alright then, moving along.
  • Lionel Hollins: I'm shocked that Hollins never landed somewhere coaching a team this year.  He has a proven track record, is a great defensive mind and is eager to lead.  Unsurprisingly, the Pistons offered him a spot as an assistant under Mo Cheeks, because they have a hard time judging fits.  Lionel Hollins is a damn good head coach in the NBA and will be on the sidelines somewhere next year.  I really hope it's in Detroit.
  • Kelvin Sampson: Sampson's name has been brought up before in relation to Detroit's head coaching position and figures to be among the candidates again.  Sampson is currently an assistant with the Houston Rockets, but has plenty of head coaching experience.  Sampson was a force to be reckoned with in college stints at Oklahoma and Indiana before recruiting violations derailed his career.  Sampson would be my second preference due to his experience with the Rockets system and style of play.
  • Rex Kalamian: Kalamian is currently serving as Scott Brooks' lead assistant in Oklahoma City, and has been rising through the ranks as a coach over the past 20 years.  He's the main offensive mind on OKC's staff, although it probably isn't hard to build a powerhouse offense around Kevin Durant.  Kalamian will likely get a shot as a head coach at some point, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Pistons interviewed him.
  • Robert Pack: Pack is another Thunder assistant coach who will likely get himself a look as a head coach.  Pack is in his first year in OKC after spending time as an assistant under Vinny Del Negro with the Clippers.  He has a reputation as a hard-nosed leader who commands respect from his team.  Pack retired from the NBA in 2003-04 after 13 seasons as a guard for seven different teams.
If Tom Gores really wants to win now, it's obvious that he needs to give Lionel Hollins whatever it takes to make him the new head coach.  Hollins led Memphis to the Western Conference finals, helped develop Marc Gasol into one of the league's best defenders and featured a balanced offense that played through the post when it was functioning at its best.  If Gores and his new GM decide that it's worth taking a flier on a young coach and developing young talent, I would put my money on Robert Pack.  Pack is renowned for his leadership skills, has experience as a player and fits the mold of a Jacque Vaughn, who is receiving good reviews as a young head coach in Orlando.  It's an important hire, and could prove to be the difference between a postseason appearance and the draft lottery in 2014-15.

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