A week ago, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News broke the story about changes coming to the Detroit Pistons. In short order, Lawrence Frank ended up losing his job. Now, a few ideas are starting to emerge about who might replace him.
According to Lawrence and his sources familiar with Detroit’s planning, Nate McMillan has emerged as the primary front runner for the position, given Detroit’s desires to hire a bench boss with some type of meaningful head coaching experience.
McMillan certainly isn’t shy on that said experience. He coached in Seattle and Portland, amassing a career record of 478-452. While with the Trail Blazers, McMillan’s worst record (21-61) came in 2005, his first year on the job. After that, things got back on the right track in a hurry, including back to back 50 win seasons in 2008 and 2009. McMillan has coached 50 win teams three times in his career, and has won over 45 games five times. He’s also been a top assistant for USA basketball under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
As a former player, McMillan would also command his team’s respect along with bringing plenty of knowledge to the bench. In Portland, he was able to develop a few younger players like Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge into difference makers, and would have several others in Detroit to develop like Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. If the Pistons are looking for the right guy on paper, it seems that McMillan is it. He inherited a worse locker room situation in Portland during 2005 and came out ahead, lending to the belief he could easily clean things up in Detroit.
The one caveat for McMillan himself might be what ends up happening with the Sacramento Kings. If their sale is approved and the team moves to Seattle as has been rumored, McMillan might be considered a shoo-in for that job, given his nickname is “Mr. Sonic.” In that scenario, who else might be on the radar? We’ve heard some of the usual assistant coach names like Brian Shaw, Mike Budenholzer and Kelvin Sampson, but none of them have NBA head coaching experience. After that, Maurice Cheeks and Scott Skiles and might quickly become the most realistic, attainable options given the profile Detroit is said to be looking for. In other words, Pistons’ fans might have to root for the Kings to stick around in California just a little while longer.
On April 24, however, McMillan is said to be the early frontrunner, and would undoubtably be the top choice in the minds of many Pistons’ fans, as well. Plenty can still happen, but a week after Frank was fired, Detroit’s search for a new head coach at least appears to be off the ground with some focus.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax