Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rick Sund Could Replace Mike Woodson With Flip Saunders

Detroit fired Flip Saunders today. Saunders coached the team for three seasons, winning 176 of 246 regular season games, but losing in the conference finals each season.

Before going to Detroit, Saunders spent parts of ten seasons coaching the Minnesota Timberwolves. He compiled a 411-326 (.558) record and Minnesota reached the playoffs in each of the eight full seasons he coached the team. The Minnesota franchise has never won more than 33 games or reached the playoffs under any other coach.

I think there are legitimate reasons not to employ Flip Saunders to coach an NBA title contender. I can't think of any for not employing to coach a team that considers 37 wins and a first-round playoff loss a successful year. Such a result would constitute the worst season of Saunders' career.

Rick Sund doesn't have to make a perfect head coaching hire to improve this team. The simple, safe choice to install a competent head coach will derive greater value from the existing personnel and improve the usefulness of whoever is acquired to fill out the roster. Good coaches are available (Saunders, Avery Johnson, Dwane Casey). They may not be available after the Hawks open the season 6-15, the players revolt, and even the ownership recognizes that Mike Woodson is bad at his job.

Ballhype: hype it up!


CoCo said...

Brett do you really think there's anything Woody can do that he hasn't already done to reassure the owners that he's sorta terrible at his job? At this point I think we've seen his best efforts at convincing them. If they've not acknowledged it by now they never will.

Anonymous said...

Here's the concern. In Avery Johnson and now Flip Saunders, there are two coaches out there who are indisputably better than Mike Woodson, and almost anyone who watches basketball can realize that.

1) Avery Johnson has something like 12 million dollars due from Dallas over the next four years. If he signs a new contract, he forfeits that money, so you assume he'll want a contract that is more lucrative than that. Our ownership is probably too cheap to pay that much.

2) I've heard a frightening number of cliché's about "continuity." I just don't know if there's enough desire to improve.

Matt said...

Flip Saunders was fired for not gaining the respect of his team- and yet Woodson might stay despite the team's lack of respect for him. I almost don't even care who they bring in as long as it is someone that isn't proven to be horrible. The fact that Mike Woodson hasn't been fired is terrifying.

Maybe the ownership is going to deal with him like Milton from Office Space (great comparison, actually). They won't fire him, but they won't renew his contract or continue to pay him. Can't you just picture walking around the halls of Philips Arena: "um... I did not receive my paycheck this week?"

Bret LaGree said...


I think there's a disturbing chance that you're right and it will take a disastrous, irrevocable start to the 2008-09 season (possibly involving a Woodson/Pachulia physical confrontation) to make ownership realize how bad Woodson is both as a tactician and a communicator.

If the head coaching situation isn't resolved soon it wouldn't hurt if Josh Smith or his representatives dropped a couple of hints along the lines of, "You're not really considering signing Woodson to another contract, are you?"


If ownership really cared about offering some faint to hope to someone such as ourselves, the money due Avery would provide them a great out for a half-hearted effort to hire him as it's entirely plausible that he'd want to take a year off and bank some of the money due him not just that he wouldn't want anything to do with this franchise.


It's only the degree of their cheapness that's in question. I can't honestly rule out that they're just keeping Woodson around to do some light cleaning or have him moving furniture around until his contract expires on the 30th.