Joe Dumars Fires Flip Saunders
It did not take long for the axe to fall in Detroit. There was speculating that even a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals would not save Flip Saunders job, and the former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher and Minnesota Timberwolf has just been fired from him post as Detroit Pistons Head Coach.
AP Photo/Duane Burleson, File
The easy reason for Flip Saunders being canned in Detroit is that the Pistons made the NBA Finals the two years before, including beating the Lakers to win the 2004 title. Thus Flip walked into an impossible situation considering the expectations, but he knew that going in because it was also a great opportunity for him to coach an elite team.
Detroit actually was quite successful with Saunders including the monster 2005-06 year where they went 64-18. Unfortunately in a town like Detroit, Championships are the barometer for success. The problem with Detroit is that they lost to lesser teams in each of the last 3 Eastern Conference Finals under Flip. All series were 4-2 losses for Detroit actually.
Ultimately the Pistons underachieved with Flip as the head coach, as the veterans on the team did not respect Saunders enough for whatever reason. Rasheed Wallace in particular never was reached by Saunders and his awful Game 6 is not what the Pistons needed. Maybe the Pistons were spoiled having Larry Brown as a head coach, one of the best in the business. Saunders deserved more respect but simply never got it despite his previous success with the Minnesota Timberwolves, making the playoffs 9 straight years.
Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons responded quickly with the hire of up-and-coming bench coach Michael Curry. As an ex player he will earn the player's respect, and has already been coaching on the team anyway.
It is unknown whether or not the Pistons will be making any significant moves in the offseason, but doing something with Rasheed Wallace is a possibility. That said there are few players with as versatile an in-out game, but not many players are as maddeningly inconsistent either.