Monday, June 02, 2008

Time To Move On From Flip And Rasheed

After losing three straight years in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, you hear the same thing over and over about the Pistons: "Time to blow it up."
No, it isn’t. It’s obvious, though, they need major changes.
If the Pistons remain as they are, with Flip Saunders as coach and Rasheed Wallace as the primary inside force, they have little chance of reaching the NBA Finals next season. It’s unlikely they would even get to the Eastern Conference finals again.
However, this is not a team that needs to totally tear down and build from the ground up, especially with the rapid development of a young talent such as guard Rodney Stuckey.
There are mixed reports about Saunders return, but I have trouble believing he will be back. You don’t have a lame duck coach in this situation. Saunders is entering the final year of his contract. The Pistons would either have to extend him or release him, particularly with one of the major issues against Saunders being lack of respect from the players. I doubt they will extend his contract.
Michael Curry is the most likely option if there is a change. Not a lot of "Wow" appeal there. I like Lindsey Hunter as the future Pistons coach, but he has no coaching experience at this stage. Avery Johnson seems less likely because he had many of the same issues - playoff failures - in Dallas as Saunders has had in Detroit.
If the Pistons do retain Saunders, and don’t start quickly, they could release him during the season. But it will be a topic from Day One, casting a cloud over the season. If the Pistons do have a solid regular season, how much confidence should there be in Saunders for the playoffs? His reputation as a very good regular season coach, and mediocre playoff coach, has been earned over an extended period, both in Minnesota and with the Pistons.
Those who have read this blog regularly understand how I have defended Wallace in the past. But it’s time for a change. His body language, in addition to his performance during Game 6 vs. Boston, was deplorable. Put that together with his meltdown during Game 6 in Cleveland during last season’s Eastern Conference finals - and the writing is on the wall.
In the last year of his contract, Wallace should have decent value. But even if Dumars doesn’t get equal value in return, he has to move him. The key will be re-tooling the Pistons inside game so they don’t become even more guard-oriented.

Random Thoughts

- I know his numbers aren’t spectacular, and that he has had his share of disappointing starts, but it seems like Jeremy Bonderman has been the Tigers’ starter coming closest to matching expectations.

- Magglio Ordonez is suddenly second in the American League in batting average and seventh in RBI. Not a bad season. He is still the Tigers’ best hitter as far as I’m concerned, although I do expect Miguel Cabrera to heat up soon.

- It’s quite a homestand the Tigers have coming up this weekend - Cleveland, White Sox, Dodgers. If they don’t get through that homestand in at least respectable shape, this season could be over before it’s over. There’ll be big crowds at Comerica Park, too. And all the attention will be on the Tigers with the Red Wings and Pistons seasons concluded.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a coach who has been to the Conference Finals 3 years in a row is mediocre? Wow, Pat, not to many success stories out there with that standard.

3:18 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...


I want the Tigers to walk into this weekend homestand thinking this is a great opportunity to make up some ground.

But first we have to get by Oakland.

Things have been slowly getting better, and I loved listening to the win last night because that sounded like the "good" Tigers - even with the 2 run bomb by Seatle in the 9th. Okay - it was only Seatle.

Let's look at it this way - the best possible outcome (is it really outside the realm of possibility?):

Say the Tigers sweep Cleveland (who are falling faster than we are) - build on that confidence to sweep the Chi-Sox - there is seven games. We are six back today - and we play the Dodgers as we wrestle to catch up to the Twins who would likely then assume first place.

I would love for Fathers Day to have my Dogers tickets be for a game of meaning - and the opportunity is at least presenting itself.

I agree on Bonderman too. That's why you're the Book, man.

Go Tigers, Go Wings!

4:41 PM 
Blogger Max Perilstein said...

Hope you are feeling better!
On the Pistons- you are dead on- "blowing up" makes no sense- trying to re-make or tweak is more the pace for me. I gotta think Rasheed still has some value both in talent and an expiring contract. So we'll see what Joe can pull off.
As for the Tigers, just curious... why do you think Leyland is refusing to bat Cabrera 3rd? He's basically batted everyone alive 3rd- including Polanco- but has yet to try Miggy?
Also on the Tigers- what is your take on their desire to play immediately the guys they bring up from the minors (Joyce, Larish) over guys like Raburn who are already here? Its like a flavor of the month thing.
Still bottom line is the focus will be on them- white hot- and soon.
Thanks for your insight and take care- Max

5:22 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The way I read this is mediocre playoff coaches go to three conference finals in a row. By that standard, who is good? The problem with firing Flip is finding a better coach. I say extend him another year and adjust the roster.

11:52 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hi Pat: Bondo is a pitching machine he going to keep throwing and throwing and throwing. He got good stuff but not good enough to pitch up in the strike zone. I do not know if he is worth 14 million/year as his contract states in one of the coming years. Ten years from now he will still be pitching. Maggs has a beautiful swing where he can adjust to pitches easier. He should be doing better in the all star voting. Maggs is a bargain at 15 million and I am glad he is sign for another two or three years. When Miggy really heats up it will be fun to watch. With all the moves the Tigers have done are they doing a little showcasing ? I like Inge now he can catch, period. Pudge be asking for a three year contract somewhere. He can still throw to 2B and OBP is roughly same as most catchers in the league. The next couple of series is big for the Tigers to prevent more showcasing.

8:44 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Max Perilstein read my mind! Why does Leyland refuse to bat Cabrera 3rd. Cabrera hit 3rd for the Marlins and didn't do too bad.

11:02 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...


Flip is gone now, so I guess we just have to wait for Sheed to be traded. Of the players on the roster, the only two I wouldn't consider trading are Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton. Not because they are the best players on the team (they aren't), but because they are the most indespensible. Prince is perhaps the best all around player in the NBA. He can do everything, and he does all of it well (although not spectacular at anything in particular) He also seems to have more drive than any of the other players (excluding McDyess). Rip is exactly the opposite. He has huge holes in his game, and is a poor ball handler and so-so defender. He is however the best, bar-none, at what he does well. He is the best player in the NBA off of screens and he is probably the best mid-range jump shooter. No-one has as much energy as him either. So those two would be difficult to replace, but the rest could be replaced in some sort of restocking of the roster.


4:20 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That out of the way (I still hear the Old Bit Siren), I have to say that the firing of Flipper was garbage. Was he the greatest coach? Absolutely not, but he was in what, the top 20-30% in the league?

Detroiters need to realize that it's the PLAYERS that are quitting & whining hacks. Obviously not all of them, but too many from this core. They've 100% become what they despised & railed against in 2004, and it's sad to see.

How many more coaches does the org. have to fire & pin the blame on before they realize this?

One final one for old time sake - When are you getting back with Killah for The Beat Reporters???

4:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It is when you consider the talent.

8:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Neither the Indians or White Sox have taken control of the AL Central and that seems to be what the Tigers have going for them more than anything else. As bad as they've played, they are still in it.

8:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You're point is well taken. Who are they going to get to coach this group. It's the key to whether this was the right decision.

8:27 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Max Perilstein,
Slowly, but surely I am getting better. Thanks for asking. Dumars is under the gun. He can't just make changes just to make them. They need to be made with purpose.
I think Leyland just wants to see what those guys can do. He knows all about Raburn.

8:40 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I agree with you about Bonderman. He is definitely a long-term major leaguer. Problem is, he is not as good a major leaguer as most have expected.

8:43 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Cabrera definitely fits the profile for a three-hole hitter.

8:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't see them moving Billups. But it will be interesting to see if the Pistons go with a three-guard lineup sometimes next season - Billups, Stuckey and Rip.

8:50 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...


Stucky and Prince seem more like point forwards anyway with their size and ball handling ability. (along with their ability to control the floor). I don't know how that would work for them though (using a three guard line-up). A lack of quality big men usually doesn't bode well in the playoffs.


2:58 PM 

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