Tag:Michael Curry
Posted on: June 30, 2009 1:39 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2009 5:44 pm

Pistons fire Curry; who's next? (UPDATE)

As most of the NBA was expecting the Detroit Pistons to gear up for pursuit of several free agents, they fired their coach instead. Michael Curry will not return to coach the team next season, the Pistons announced in an email to the media.

"This was a difficult decision to make," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "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."

UPDATE: Speculation immediately centered on whether Dumars would reach out to former Bad Boys teammate Bill Laimbeer, who resigned as coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock earlier this month in the hopes of landing an NBA job. The timing is more than curious, but Laimbeer refused to comment when reached on his cell phone Tuesday.

"I've got nothing to say," Laimbeer said. "Thanks for the call."

Such unexpurgated charm (note sarcasm) is why Laimbeer has yet to land so much as an assistant's job in the NBA since retiring 16 years ago. He coached the Shock to three WNBA championships, then quit three games into the season because he wanted NBA executives to know he was ready for his chance.

They've known he's been ready, yet nobody has come calling. The Minnesota job figures to go to former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, the 2006-07 coach of the year. Mitchell fits the low-budget description in that he has money coming to him from Toronto and thus would be a cheap hire. Anyway, the Timberwolves job won't be going to Laimbeer, even though Laimbeer has let it be known that he's interested.

But what about the Pistons? If there is an organization in the NBA with at least a few people who don't loathe Laimbeer, it would be the Pistons. The same Pistons who were about to hire another, even more despised member of the Bad Boys, Isiah Thomas, until Thomas spoiled late owner Bill Davidson's plans by announcing them before Davidson did. So Isiah was ex-communicated, all those years ago.

Laimbeer is the lone member of the Bad Boys still standing outside of Dumars -- and by standing, Dennis Rodman, we don't mean in front of a craps table. Only hours before diving into free agency with the cap space cleared from his ill-fated acquisition of Allen Iverson, Dumars is in a fix. His once dominant organization is in shambles. If he wanted to recruit his former bouncer to take some lumps for him and make the Pistons the hated, feared, and (in a twisted way) respected again, Laimbeer would be the choice.

That would be some press conference, you have to admit.

But it appears that Laimbeer will be on the outside looking in once again, as other more accomplished candidates begin to emerge. One of them isn't hard to figure out, since his name comes up with every NBA coaching vacancy: Doug Collins, who coached the Pistons for three seasons in the late 1990s and removed his name from consideration for the 76ers' coaching vacancy earlier this offseason.

Another, according to a high-level coaching source, is former Mavs coach Avery Johnson, who unlike Collins is much better suited to an NBA sideline than an NBA broadcast.

Curry was hired last June to replace Flip Saunders, who was fired after alienating the veteran core of a team that had advanced to six consecutive Eastern Conference finals and won the NBA title in 2004. Under Curry, the Pistons went 39-43 in a season that began with Dumars trading Chauncey Billups to Denver for Iverson's $22 million expiring contract, a move that sent the veteran Pistons reeling from their perch atop the conference. Curry had to endure a juggling act with Iverson, Rodney Stuckey, and Richard Hamilton, and alienated Hamilton by sending him to the bench in favor of Iverson.

UPDATE: There was no evidence that the Curry-Hamilton relationship was anywhere close to healing. One person connected to the situation said an article this week in the Detroit Free Press, in which Curry took more swipes at Hamilton, may have been the tipping point in Curry's firing.

But while Curry had to deal with the headaches from the Iverson trade, he will not reap the rewards. Dumars is set to go shopping for one or two major free agents at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, armed with the cap relief from Iverson's and Rasheed Wallace's contracts coming off Detroit's books.

The stunning announcement of Curry's firing sends a clear message that Curry and Dumars didn't agree on the direction the team will take in its efforts to rebuild. Bulls free agent Ben Gordon is believed to be at the top of Detroit's list of free-agent targets, which begs the question of what will become of Hamilton, the franchise's lone remaining star. The Pistons also are widely expected to make a run at Orlando free agent Hedo Turkoglu.

Posted on: March 23, 2009 11:13 am

Iverson denies he's sitting out in protest

Allen Iverson's extended absence has fueled speculation that it's not really a sore back that's keeping him away, but his frustration with being relegated to the bench. Not so, Iverson said Sunday in an interview with A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers.

"That's hilarious," Iverson said. "My health is the most important thing, that was the whole thing. I know people are going to say that. I've been a warrior my whole career and I pride myself on that. But (the back injury), it is what it is.

Coming off the bench is "something I have to deal with," Iverson said. "That's not going to be a problem. And I wouldn't cheat the game, I wouldn't cheat myself, my family and friends. ... I wouldn't cheat all them because of a situation. It's just another obstacle in my life that I have to overcome. ... I owe too much to myself. I owe too much to my fans, people that care about me and love me and want to see me play. And to my teammates. I owe so much to my teammates to go out there and perform."

Iverson has missed the past 13 games due to the back injury, an absence that coincided with coach Michael Curry's admission that A.I. will have to go to the bench to spark the Pistons, who have struggled to find an identity since the cap-clearing trade that brought Iverson from Denver in exchange for Chauncey Billups. Detroit is 7-6 without Iverson and has lost four out of five, debunking the theory that the Pistons are better off without him. Detroit also has been without Richard Hamilton (groin) and Rasheed Wallace (calf) recently and has plummeted to seventh place in the East, only three games agead of Chicago in the loss column with 13 to play.The Bulls host the Pistons Tuesday night.

Iverson said he doesn't know when he'll be back, but hopes it's soon. Do the Pistons hope so, too? Curry said he's hopeful that Iverson will be able to participate in practice to some degree starting Monday.







Posted on: December 30, 2008 10:46 am

Iverson headed to bench?

When the Pistons traded for Allen Iverson, it was clear that no coach with a contending team would have a more difficult job the rest of the way than Michael Curry. It's about to get a lot more difficult.

With Rip Hamilton missing the last two games with a groin injury, the Pistons have nonetheless extended their winning streak to four -- including a very Piston-like 88-82 victory over Orlando, ending the Magic's seven-game winning streak. After experimenting with a small lineup in recent weeks -- Tayshaun Prince at power forward, and a three-guard lineup of Rodney Stuckey, Allen Iverson, and Hamilton -- Curry has been forced to go with a more traditional lineup with Hamilton out. And you know what the great philosopher Rasheed Wallace once said: Necessity is the mother of invention. Or something like that.

While the Iverson trade clearly was designed to create cap space over the next two years, Curry's job is to put the best possible combination of players on the floor and give the team the best chance to win. Based on how the Pistons have played the last two games without Hamilton, it would seem that Detroit is better off with a two-guard lineup to start games. Against teams that play small, Curry could get away with a small-ball look and not get hurt in the post. But most nights, the Pistons will function best with two guards on the floor and three bigs.

Which brings us back to the question that was posed in the first place when Joe Dumars acquired Iverson: With Iverson, Hamilton and Stuckey all capable of starting, who sits?

Once Hamilton is healthy, the best candidate to go to the bench is Iverson. If Iverson looked at it objectively, he would see the benefit of reinventing himself as a killer sixth man, bringing instant offense off the bench the way Manu Ginobili does in San Antonio or Lamar Odom does in L.A. During the sometimes helter-skelter possessions that ensue with the second units on the floor at the end or beginning of quarters, Iverson would be a perfect fit to score buckets in bunches. Despite the beating he's endured over the years, he can still get to the basket and create his own shot with the best of them. He's also been a gambling steal-producer on defense his entire career -- not a sound, team-concept defender, which the Pistons need during the more structured portions of games.

The problem is, Iverson has never outgrown his desire to be on the floor 40-plus minutes every night. Every coach who has ever substituted for him can attest to the fact that you can't take Iverson out of a game without a dirty look and a few dirty words. This is partly a testament to Iverson's competitive fire, which has been matched by few -- if any -- of his contemporaries. But it's also a huge problem is Iverson is going to be placed in any kind of secondary role.

Iverson seethed when Curry took him out with four minutes left and the Pistons trailing the Hawks by six earlier this month. When Hamilton got ejected with about a minute left, Curry sent Iverson back in. According to this account, Iverson passed up an open look from beyond the 3-point arc with Detroit trailing by five, passing the ball without even looking at the basket. If you know Iverson, you know that A) he's never sized up a shot he didn't like, and B) there probably was a message for the coach behind it.

So if I'm Curry, I know what has to be done. Once Hamilton is healthy, Iverson needs to be sold on the glory of coming off the bench and showing his detractors that he can, in fact, reinvent himself at this stage of his career. Iverson will need a contract after the season -- either from the Pistons (not likely) or somebody else. For 13 years, the little guy has proved he's one of the greatest scorers ever to play the game -- and not just for his size. You don't wind up third in the history of the NBA in points per game -- behind Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan -- without being an all-time great. But he has reached a turning point in his career, a point at which he must show that he can not only accept the selfless fulfillment of being a great sixth man, but thrive in the role. He should listen to Ron Artest, who has gladly embraced any role presented to him for the sake of winning a championship.

Let's face it, the Pistons aren't winning a title this season regardless of how the Curry-Iverson feud plays out. But to have the best chance, Curry must have the courage to bench the unbenchable. And Iverson has to learn to like it.



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