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Four-Time Champion Endorses Pistons’ Legends For Coaching Job

Some are suggesting that Isiah Thomas should coach the Pistons.

The Detroit Pistons seek a new coach amid sweeping changes. According to another Pistons legend, Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer should be considered. John Salley has suggested these former players for the role, sparking a debate among fans. Thomas and Laimbeer bring a wealth of coaching experience and a deep-rooted connection to Detroit, which could resonate well with the fan base. Their potential hiring not only promises to boost team morale but also has the potential to drive up ticket sales, making them intriguing options for the Pistons during this transition period.

Four-Time Champion Endorses Pistons’ Legends For Coaching Job

Detroit Pistons Coach Isiah Thomas?

Playing Career

Isiah Thomas became a Pistons legend despite initially having reservations about joining the organization. After leaving Indiana University and becoming eligible for the 1981 NBA draft, Thomas hoped to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls. However, the Pistons selected him with the 2nd overall pick, and he went on to play 13 seasons in Detroit. Thomas averaged 19.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 9.3 assists, and 1.9 steals per game on 45/29/75% shooting. He boasted 12 All-Star appearances, five All-NBA team selections, two NBA Championships, a Finals MVP, and two All-Star Game MVPs.

Coaching Career

Given Thomas’s extensive knowledge as a player, a transition to coaching seemed natural. In 2000, he was appointed head coach of the Indiana Pacers after Larry Bird resigned. Even after trading Dale Davis for Jermaine O’Neal, the Pacers remained a top team in the Eastern Conference. Under Thomas, the Pacers dropped from 56 to 41 wins in his debut season, exiting the playoffs in the first round. In the following two seasons, Thomas guided the Pacers to winning records, but opponents ousted them in the first round each year.

New York/FIU Debacle

In 2003, Thomas was hired as the President of Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks. Despite a promising roster, the team had the NBA’s second-worst record in 2005-06 despite the highest payroll. Thomas was later hired as the head coach, replacing Larry Brown. His first season with the Knicks saw a 33-49 record, reflecting his challenges in improving the team’s performance. In his second season, Thomas had conflicts with starting point guard Stephon Marbury, and the team’s poor performance (23-59) ultimately cost him his job as head coach and president.

Thomas would coach five seasons, as in the NBA, where his record was 187-223 in the regular season and 5-10 in the playoffs. Thomas coached the FIU Panthers with no pro offers, tallying a 26-65 record across three seasons before dismissal.

Detroit Pistons Coach Bill Laimbeer?

Playing Career

Bill Laimbeer was traded to the Detroit Pistons during the 1982 season. Laimbeer and Thomas became the foundation of the Pistons’ team, which became a perennial playoff contender during the mid-80s and early 90s. Laimbeer played 13.5 seasons with the Pistons, averaging 13.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on 49/32/84% shooting. He became a four-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion, and the 1985-86 rebounding champion.

Coaching Career

Laimbeer’s coaching career began in the WNBA with the Detroit Shock. He replaced coach Greg Williams, who started the 2002 season 0-10. With Laimbeer in place, he led the team to a 9-13 record for the remainder of the season, but the Shock still finished with the league’s worst record at 9-23. Given an entire season, Laimbeer guided the Shock to a 25-9 record and clinched the WNBA championship in 2003. The 2003 Shock were the first American pro sports team to go from worst to champions in one season. The Shock went 33-35 in two seasons, making playoffs but exiting in the first round both times.

Laimbeer would lead the Shock to two more titles (2006 & 2008) before resigning in 2009 to seek an NBA coaching position. Laimbeer served as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2009 to 2012 after NBA head coaching prospects failed. The New York Liberty would offer Laimbeer a coaching job, bringing him back into the WNBA. After two seasons, the team fired him with a record of 26-42, then rehired him for three seasons, where he went 66-36. Laimbeer would then coach the Las Vegas Aces, where he was 77-45 in three seasons as the Aces coach. He will retire in 2021.

The Last Word

The Detroit Pistons face a critical decision in their search for a new head coach. Both Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer bring unique strengths and deep connections to the franchise. Thomas offers a wealth of experience and a storied legacy with the Pistons, although his coaching record has been mixed. On the other hand, Laimbeer has a proven track record of success in the WNBA and embodies the toughness that Detroit fans admire. Team morale, fan engagement, and performance will be crucial in selecting the best head coach during this transition period.



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