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.