Pistons’ Head Coach Michael Curry Ousted
The cutting axe was wheeling in Detroit earlier today when the Pistons fired Coach Mike Curry. It looks as if that the Pistons are trying to heal the bleeding and start their rebuilding process, which started with the Chauncey Billups trade, a sub-par .500 record and a sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. That ouster by the Cavaliers ended the Pistons’ six year streak of making it to the conference finals.
Team president for basketball operations, Joe Dumars recentlt spoke about bringing back Curry for next season, but changed his mind about the fate of his former Pistons teammate after further consideration.
“This was a difficult decision to make,” Dumars said in a statement. “I want to thank Michael for his hard work and dedication to the organization. However, at this time, I have decided to make a change.”
Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg said the timetable for naming a new coach was up in the air. “Obviously with the free agency period starting Wednesday, July 1, 2009, we don’t know quite the speed of it,” Grigg said.
Another ex-Pistons player and former Dumars teammate, Bill Laimbeer, stepped down in June as coach of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, saying he wanted a shot at coaching in the NBA. Laimbeer did not immediately respond to an e-mail messages seeking comment.
The Pistons began the season with big hopes but couldn’t recover from the loss of All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups in a November trade to Denver for Allen Iverson — a move intended to feature Iverson’s creativity and create time for emerging guard Rodney Stuckey.
Instead, the Pistons fell apart. They won just three games in February and three in April, plummeting to the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff seeding and a no-win matchup with LeBron James and the Cavs.
The playoff series loss ended a dominant run: The Pistons and the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers are the only franchises to play in six straight conference finals since 1970-71, when teams had to win two series to advance that far.
Immediately after the season, Dumars defended Curry. “It was an up-and-down season for him,” Dumars said then. “And, an up-and down-season for us. … The fact that we made so many changes for a first-year coach, I had to step back and be a little more patient than I have been. … I tried to put myself in his shoes.”
Dumars last week started rebuilding the roster. The Pistons may very well part with unrestricted free agents Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, and they picked up forwards Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko in last week’s draft.
Last year, Dumars fired coach Flip Saunders after he led the team to the conference finals in each of his three seasons. Curry was an assistant under Saunders for one season. The Pistons also parted ways with Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown in 2005 after he helped them win a title and almost repeat during his two years with the team. Rick Carlisle was fired after two years with the Pistons following an conference finals appearance in his second season and NBA Coach of the Year honors in his first.
Curry, who played for the Pistons in 1995-1997 and 1999-2003, started his playing career as an undrafted free agent during the 1993-94 season in Philadelphia and ended during the 2004-05 season with the Indiana Pacers.
Near the end of his playing career, Curry headed the NBA players’ association, leading it from 2001-2003. He later served as the NBDL’s vice president for player development and the NBA’s vice president for basketball operations.