Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Detroit Pistons have decided Lawrence Frank will be their new head coach, and this is something to be happy about. Take it away, Woj:
Over the next few days, Frank will be pumped up quite a bit as the lead assistant for last yearâ€™s Celtics. And though this is a fair assessment â€“ Lawrence Frank was indeed the lead assistant for last yearâ€™s Celtics â€“ this is a man whose coaching acumen runs much deeper than sitting besides Doc Rivers and making sure that the monstrous Boston defense, which often looks like it can run itself without anything resembling a head, doesn’t collapse into Kevin Garnettâ€™s madness.
Unlike the last dude who went from being the right hand man on the Boston bench to being a master of his own domain, Lawrence Frank got his first break in an abrupt and unexpected manner. Where Tom Thibodeau spent got his sea legs by serving as an NBA assistant coach from 1989 to 2010, Frank was thrown head first into the cold, murky waters of the Hudson, becoming the leagueâ€™s youngest head coach with the New Jersey Nets following Byron Scottâ€™s firing in January of 2004. And it is with these New Jersey Nets where Frank done the great job that should have landed him another head coaching job immediately, and not after nearly 2 years.
With Byron Scott losing his teamâ€™s ear (as he is wont to do) after two Finals runs, Frank took over in the middle of the 2003-2004 campaign, somewhat righting the ship for a team that was great in a terrible conference but just good in a bad conference, before losing to the eventual champion Pistons in 7 games. He then proceeded to take a 2004-2005 roster that was pretty bad to begin with and was then decimated by injuries (if you donâ€™t believe me, look here) to a playoff spot they had no business grabbing, bowing out in a somewhat respectableÂ sweep (3 blowouts and aÂ doublt OT loss, but come on, they were starting Brian Scalabrine for the first 3 games because RichardÂ Jefferson was coming off a major injury, and Travis Best was their best bench player, pun not intended)Â at the hands of the Shaq-Wade Heat. He then got the most possible out of a Kidd-Carter-Jefferson-no frontcourt lineup that was more illustrious than it was effective, before everything fell apart in the form of trades and age.
By the time the 09-10 Nets started their season on an 0-18 run and Frank was shown the door, he had completely lost his team, but there wasn’t much to lose there anyway. Itâ€™s hard to argue that Frank did a good job with the squad, but this was a team featuring 2 all-star caliber players the previous year, one of whom was given away for a borderline starter in Courtney Lee, and the other one battling injury and disinterest (amazingly, one of the two was Vince Carter, and not the disinterested one). The 18 game losing streak was a disaster by all accounts, and Frankâ€™s dismissal was well-earned, but he also shouldered much of the blame for a situation that was not all his doing.
All this makes it easy to forget that Frank had a team with a frontcourt rotation of Nenad Krstic, Jason Collins, and a 60 billion year old Clifford Robinson to the 4thranked defensive rating in the league, or that managed to make Devin Harris into an all-star for one year.
Frank is a defensive guru â€“ otherwise he wouldn’t have been Thibsyâ€™s replacement in Boston â€“ which is something that has been lacking from the Pistons persona since the end of their glory days. With his main competition for the role being Mike Woodson, improved over the years but still responsible for the Atlanta Hawks Isolation Program, this hire is both the best available, and good in any circumstances. With a horrible defensive team, a promising young center that glorifies the concept of a moving offense, and several players prone to gunning for their own shots (Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, the current version of Rip Hamilton, and while we’re reluctant to include his name on this list and hope he proves us wrong we have to be realistic â€“ Brandon Knight), you can see why the defensive Xs and Os guy takes precedent over the Iso-heavy Mr. Potato Head motivator.
Lawrence Frank was a good, youngÂ NBA coach with weaknesses several years ago. After a year under Doc Rivers working on those very weaknesses â€“ stuff like oneâ€™s ability to communicate with players between explaining what they should do against pick and rolls â€“ and just age doing its thing, this should be a marriage that sticks.