Panic in Detroit?
After this underachieving series for the Pistons, your initial reaction is to wonder if Flip is done in Detroit. It's been pointed out that this is the 3rd time in 4 years that Flip Saunders has had the 1-seed and failed to win the Conf. Finals. You can't really fault him in '04 considering they lost to a superior team (Lakers) that would've probably been the 1-seed if not riddled with reg. season injuries. I understand how you can criticize him somewhat for last year's lost to the Heat, although you have to consider that the Pistons avoided injuries in the reg season while the Heat had Shaq missing a ton-o-games, so you could make the case that the 2 teams were equal by playoff time. But this year, Flip really has no viable excuse to fall back on for failing as a 1-seed; he clearly had the better team, and for some reason his team's offense went in the crapper in the Conf Finals for the 2nd year in a row.
As a whole, the defensive play of the Pistons was pretty good for the Cavs series & the entire playoffs. But there were a few breakdowns in the 4th in the last few games, and some of the blame has to be shouldered by Flip. Sorry, but his failure to send a double/trap onto Bron with 11 secs remaining in 2OT in Game 5 was one of the biggest coaching blunders I've seen. No idea why he didn't, and I was not just saying this after the fact, I was yelling this at the TV as the play was developing. And I don't think I was the only person. He had sent a double to Bron on the previous Cavs' possession and it eventually led to Varejao getting his shot blocked & ultimately a shot-clock violation.
I am not one for haphazardly firing coaches, but if Dumars decided to let Flip go I would totally understand. Dumars could look a few seats down the bench to Terry Porter who was a coach that I thought was fired haphazardly in Milwaukee. Also, the Pistons could reach out to Jeff Van Gundy to see if he's interested in coaching next year.
The other main issue facing Joe Dumars this summer: what to do with Billups' impending free agency. Even though he had a rough series, he's still one of the best PGs in the NBA & should command an annual salary in the double-digit million range. What makes it somewhat tricky for the Pistons is Chauncey's age of 30/31 at the PG slot. Good thing for Billups is his game is not predicated on quickness and he has good size. Combine those factors with a nice stroke, and Chauncey is a PG who should age well.
Feel pretty comfortable giving him a 4-year deal, but do you give him 5 years? 6 years? Not sure. A situation similar to Nash's a few years ago. The good thing going for Detroit is that only 2-3 teams have the money to entice Billups in free agency. Orlando is one of the teams that could have the coin to chase Billups, but they need to focus on finding a dynamic wing scorer before searching for a PG. So expect Vince & Rashard to be higher on the Magic's wishlist right now. The two teams that have the need & money for Chauncey are Memphis & Milwaukee. With Mo Williams entering free agency, the Bucks' PG situation is up in the air. Besides needing help up front, the Grizzlies could use a starting caliber PG. But the Grizzlies' organization is in some disarray with uncertain ownership & financial difficulties, and might not be long for the city of Memphis. With all these question marks, you could understand if a 30-year old vet is apprehensive of stepping into this situation. So I would say Dumars has to be primarily concerned with keeping track of Larry Harris' summer itinerary.
Also, might have to deal with McDyess if he opts out this summer. With Webber also a free agent and looking like he playing on fumes, holding onto Dice could be crucial. But Dumars has to be careful with the type of contract he gives McDyess, because Det. already has a lot of cap space tied up in another 32/33 post player named Sheed. So maybe Dumars will shun Dyess and look to go younger on the frontline either thru the draft or with the MLE. Tough call.
Speaking of Sheed, is it time to cut ties with him? You know he annoys the hell out of his teammates & coaching staff, and they always have to worry about babysitting him periodically to keep him away from the refs. It's a tough call because he's such a talented all-around player. When you have a 6-11 guy who has 3pt. range, as varied a post-up game as any big not named Duncan, and is a interior defensive presence, you usually want to hang out to him. But then again Sheed is fairly unique, and needs to have a coach who's authority he respects. Is there any coach out there that can keep Sheed in check? Larry Brown was one, but I know he ain't welcome back in Detroit.