Well, it may not be the most surprising decision of all time, but Flip Saunders has been fired as head coach of the Pistons. I guess it speaks to the level of numbness I still feel in the wake of last Friday's devastating loss that I can't even feel sufficiently happy about this news.
Flip Saunders is not a terrible coach by any means (though his unwillingness to play Amir Johnson more still nags at me) but this Pistons team only gets up when they are sufficiently inspired and he just isn't the guy to do that. Three years in a row (though the last two more than this one) the Pistons lost in the conference finals when they had an excellent chance to win and were favored by most to do so. Three years! What could possibly lead us to believe that Saunders us suddenly going the find the key that will make next year's team, which if nothing really changes will be nothing more than older and slower, any different? I will however, miss his perennial "white guy overbite" on the sidelines.
Even if you put the onus on the players and not on Saunders it doesn't really change much. I mean, if a coach isn't going to make the difference with this team than why not just bring in someone that will play the young guys more than Saunders was willing to? The East is nowhere near as deep as the West and the Pistons will almost certainly make at least the 2nd round of the playoffs no matter who they pick. The 2nd Round/the East Finals-is there really that big of a difference? It isn't the worst thing in the world to be the Atlanta Braves of basketball, but I suspect that Joe Dumars is willing to take some big risks this offseason to try and retool the Pistons no matter what sort of fall-off it might temporarily lead to.
Thus, my choice for the new head coach would be...Michael Curry.
Curry, a practically talentless player who nonetheless stuck around for 11 seasons, earned the respect of his teammates through hard work, defense, and leadership. Plus, he's got to be one of the only ex-NBA players with a Masters and, lest you think he might need more credibility in the locker room, he used to be the President of the NBA Player's Union. I think if nothing else, Curry (currently an assistant coach on the team) would bring an interesting perspective to the Pistons and might provide a boost to the sort of team that just doesn't play at their best unless there's something big to play for (and even that hasn't really made a difference the last 3 years). Certainly, his perspective would have to be quite a bit different than that of coaching lifers like Saunders and Larry Brown.
UPDATE: Wow, well I guess we might get a chance to see if it's the right move after all.