Tag: Tom Gores

Lawrence Frank

In shock to nobody, Lawrence Frank fired in Detroit


I officially got off the “Lawrence Frank knows how to build a team” train earlier this season, when Andre Drummond was showing real promise but was being held back so Jason Maxiell could get more minutes. Despite what owner Tom Gores thought, this was not a playoff team, it was a team that needed to take its lumps and learn.

The Pistons are off the Lawrence Frank train as well, or maybe more accurately he was tossed from the Pistons’ train.

As had been expected after a 29-win season (and a 25-win before that), the Pistons fired Frank on Thursday, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

A meeting Thursday with Pistons owner Tom Gores finally confirmed Frank’s ouster, after Gores offered very tepid public support of his coach when speaking to local reporters earlier this week. Frank was believed to be largely Gores’ choice to replace John Kuester in the summer of 2011, although NBA coaching sources maintain that Pistons president Joe Dumars preferred current Knicks coach Mike Woodson for the job.

The Pistons will confirm this later in the day. Wherever Frank is next season he will still get the $3.7 million the Pistons owe him in salary.

Frank looked like a guy trying to assert some control and save face when he told Gores recently that the team needed to pick up the option year on his contract or not bring him back. Everyone knew this day was coming.

The question is what direction the Pistons go now. For a young team a young coach coming up — Brian Shaw out of Indiana, for example — would be a good fit. But we’ll see what direction an owner who expects to make the playoffs next season chooses to go.

We welcome the Pistons to the advanced statistics club

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I’m guessing this has been planned long before Pistons owner Tom Gores saw “Moneyball” last weekend. Although that Brad Pitt can be quite persuasive.

Last weekend was the New England Symposium on Statistics and Sports, which you were not invited to because you are not a sports math geek. Or not geeky enough. No, I didn’t get an invite either.

But Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated is geeky enough — in a good way — and he saw something different: The Detroit Pistons had a representative there. Certain NBA teams are known advanced stat teams (Rockets, Thunder, Mavericks, Celtics and a few others) but the Pistons were more blue collar than that.

Lowe spoke to Robert Wentworth, the guy from Gores firm Platinum Equity that was at the symposium and asked him what was going on.

“We’re a private equity firm. This is our first move into professional sports, both for the firm and for Tom Gores, and we approach this like any other investment that we make. We will really try to understand best practices and be forward-thinking as opposed to reactionary. Getting heavily into statistical analysis seems quite natural to us….

“The advanced stats just ought to be a part of your tool kit. It’s equally important to have really solid basketball people, and Joe Dumars has obviously been in this league for 25-plus years now. He has tremendous basketball intellect. But we’re just trying to make sure we use every tool in that took box, even if it means you just do a better job at finding that 8th, 9th or 10th guy.”

Pistons fans, this is good news. That new coach Lawrence Frank is on board with this and helped (also something Wentworth said) is even better.

They have the right attitude — statistics are just another tool. It can help you see value where others might not, it can help you question conventional wisdom about a player. You don’t have to just say “this guy has the look and skills of a guy who can rebound” you can look at the numbers and see exactly how well he rebounds against whom.

Where advanced stats is really helping in the NBA — and helped the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs — is in finding five-man units that work well together. It helps understanding a group dynamic and what works and doesn’t. You don’t need advanced stats to tell you Dirk Nowitzki is really good, but you can use them to see who pairs best with him.

It’s another thing the Pistons could use as they have a massive rebulidng project in front of them.

Report: Frank reaches contract terms with Pistons

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We’ve known for a week that Lawrence Frank was going to be next coach of the Pistons. Detroit fans are restless about this — they badly wanted Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer to get the gig — but Frank was the guy who blew everyone away during the interview process.

Of course, there was still that little matter of coming to terms on a contract. Well, they reached those terms Friday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

The Detroit Pistons have reached agreement with Lawrence Frank on a four-year contract to become their head coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The fourth season of Frank’s contract is a team option that could become fully guaranteed based on incentives. Frank is expected to sign the contract early next week in Auburn Hills, Mich., where the team plans an introductory news conference.

While the people in Detroit don’t like it, I still think this is a good hire. Frank is a basketball lifer who understands the game, what it takes to rebuild a team (which is what the Pistons must do) and has been in the big seat previously. And before you say he blew that chance, look at what the Nets ownership did to the roster during his tenure — you can’t win without talent. Frank has been an assistant in other places and watched how Doc Rivers interacted with players up close. He has earned another shot.

One other interesting tweet from Woj:

From start of interview process, Frank was clearly Joe Dumars’ choice to replace John Kuester. Ownership agreed. No close second in process.

This is different than earlier reports, which had Mike Woodson as Dumars preferred choice, albeit slightly as he liked Frank also, and new owner Tom Gores preferring Frank. You can take the above comments as truth or post-hiring spin, depending on your mood.

Knicks, D’Antoni could turn to Frank for defensive help

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Lawrence Frank coming to the rescue of the New York Knicks?

Maybe, if Mike D’Antoni gets his way. At least that’s the report.

The Knicks want — and need — an assistant coach to take over and be “defensive coordinator” and Frank did that job last season for the Boston Celtics (who had the second best defensive rating in the NBA). There is interest, according to Alan Hahn of Newsday.

From what we’ve been hearing, D’Antoni personally likes Frank and there is a strong mutual interest there for many reasons.

First of all, whomever the Knicks hire would have to accept a one-year deal because D’Antoni is going into the final year of his contract and there is some uncertainty about his future. Frank, unlike most, would likely be amenable to accepting a one-year contract because it gives him the freedom to continue to look for head coaching jobs.

Frank might also prefer New York over returning to Boston for proximity reasons, as well, because he could be home full-time in New Jersey, where his wife and two daughters remained last season when he worked for the Celtics.

What Frank really wants is a head coaching job. Reports are he really wowed new Pistons owner Tom Gores and is one of the finalists there (along with Mike Woodson, preferred by GM Joe Dumars).

But if Frank is not coaching the Pistons through a rebuilding process, maybe the Knicks are a fit. Or, he might just stay put in Boston to help that team make one more title run with their big four.

Basically, Lawrence Frank has plenty of options.

It’s a trend, private equity firms snatching up NBA teams

Tom Gores

Despite what David Stern seems to think is a franchise-crushing financial system, and despite the threat of a protracted lockout, NBA franchises seem to be selling for record prices. And healthy profits in some cases for the former owners. The latest is the just agreed-to deal for Joshua Harris to buy the Philadelphia 76ers.

But there is a trend in the new buyers — many come from private equity firms.

It’s not a new trend, but over at CNN’s Fortune they broke it down.

This is the fourth time in recent years that private equity executives have purchased an NBA team. The first was in 2002, when the Boston Celtics were acquired for $380 million by a group led by Steve Pagliuca (Bain Capital) and Wyc Grousbeck (Highland Capital Partners).… Next up was the Golden State Warriors, acquired last year for $450 million by venture capitalist Joe Lacob (Kleiner Perkins).…

Most recently Tom Gores and his firm Platinum Equity purchased the Detroit Pistons, in a transaction marked by its unusual structure (the team technically is majority-owned by the firm, but since Gores controls the firm…).

Now we have the Philadelphia 76ers going to Harris, and I’ve heard word that another group of PE execs is beating the bushes for their own NBA franchise.

A lot of these guys, like Gores, specialize in buying and turning around distressed businesses. Does that make the NBA something that fits their business profile, or just a fun toy for really rich guys?

I’m not going to pretend to know what this means, if anything, for the league. Just pointing out a trend, but something to watch to see if there is an impact on the NBA.