Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.

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Cam (Grand Rapids, Mich.): A name that hasnít surfaced yet is Tom Izzo. I think if this were a veteran, contending team, he wouldnít get respect from players. But since this is a rebuilding phase, he might get four to five years to seriously evaluate if he can handle coaching at the NBA level. What are your thoughts on Tom Izzo possibly coaching the Pistons next season? Do you think he would seriously consider the job?

Langlois: Heís considered NBA jobs for more than a decade, starting with the Atlanta Hawks in 2000 after winning the national championship at Michigan State. But he did say he was at Michigan State for life when he ultimately decided against accepting Clevelandís job last summer. On a practical level, I donít think the fit is there between the Pistons and Izzo at this time, either. Even in 2000, the gap between the highest-paid NBA coaches and those in college was considerable. Now itís drawn much closer. Izzo makes about $3.5 million a year at Michigan State Ė thatís more than most NBA coaches earn. The Cavs were reportedly offering something north of $5 million a year. That was Cavs owner Dan Gilbert going all in to get the biggest name he could reasonably attract in an attempt to get LeBron James to stay Ė and Izzo later admitted that a big part of the reason he was so intrigued by the Cleveland job was the chance to coach James, and a big part of the reason he ultimately decided to stay at MSU was the very real chance heíd get to Cleveland and see James leave as a free agent. The money it would take to pry Izzo away from Michigan State just isnít in line with the value an NBA team could count on getting. (And remember last week, when new Pistons owner Tom Gores spoke of seeking value in his transactions?) As much as I respect Izzo Ė and I do think heís one of the few college coaches who would have a real shot at successfully making the transition Ė if you have to pay a minimum of $4 million a year (and probably more, and probably a total investment of at least $30 million) to get him to think about leaving, thatís a big, big gamble on a gut hunch that he would beat the odds that history tells us are stacked against a college coach making the leap.

Shikhar (Troy, Mich.): Is Larry Brown a possibility for the Pistons? We won a championship with the guy, so why donít we take a risk and give him one year to prove himself?

Langlois: You know what would have been an interesting hire? Larry Brown to the Lakers. That would have been fascinating. I donít think weíve seen the last of Larry Brown as a head coach Ė whether thatís college, the NBA or Harvard-Westlake High in suburban Los Angeles, as Brown would often whimsically suggest would be his final stop Ė but Iím pretty sure weíve seen the last of him as a Pistons coach.

Omid (Ann Arbor, Mich.): Has the Pistonsí front office ever considered collaborating with the teamís players and coming up with a consensus as to which coach would be most suitable in the teamís interests?

Langlois: It caused a few headlines last week when the Lakers hired Mike Brown without consulting Kobe Bryant, Omid. I donít think it would be out of line for a general manager to consult with a universally acknowledged superstar, not to cede veto power on the hire but to solicit his input. But the players considered at the core of the Pistonsí veteran leadership are Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince and their long-term futures with the franchise are tenuous. Wallace has one year left on his contract; Hamilton, itís widely understood, has been the subject of trade discussions; and Prince is a free agent. Coaches who sign on to coach superstars understand they are at some level beholden to the whims of that player. Theyíre already empowered. Mike Brown understands if Kobe Bryant doesnít meet him half way, it will be Brown the organization deems expendable. General managers who so empower players who have yet to make an All-Star team, never mind lead a team to playoff success, are setting their coach up for failure.

Chris (Brighton, Mich.): When a team is selecting a new coach, how much consideration is given to the current rosterís strengths and weaknesses? It seems to me that if a team is filled with shooters and isnít particularly strong at interior defense, then selecting a defense-first coach a la a Larry Brown disciple would just cause frustration for everyone. Rick Adelman seems to be the best fit given our current roster. But there are others, including Lawrence Frank, I would consider over the Larry Brown brain trust that always comes up.

Langlois: If the suggestion is to hire a coach that plays to a teamís strengths and tolerates its weaknesses, Iím not sure thatís a formula for success. I think there are times when you go to hire a coach that the current roster configuration should rank as a high priority. I would cite the Lakers as a recent and relevant example. Theyíre constructed to win now. The Pistonsí roster could look significantly different before they play their next game Ė and it probably will take a few more major additions or tweaks after that before theyíre poised to challenge for a title again. In other words, Iím not sure Joe Dumars will be looking for a coach who meshes with the current roster. I think heíll look for a guy who displays a profound vision of the things Dumars most wants out of his next coach Ė a guy who exudes toughness, will instill discipline and preach defensive intensity.

Mike (Redford, Mich.): Assuming the Pistons go with a big man at No. 8, what do you think about going after Wilson Chandler in free agency to start at small forward?

Langlois: Heís inconsistent, but when heís on a roll he can score in bunches. Chandler will be a restricted free agent, though, so thereís too much we donít know Ė where the cap will be set (assuming there is one), what the rules are for free agency, etc. Ė to even speculate with any authority. My guess is he winds up back in Denver.

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