Wilson, Dobek and Dumars have been telling everyone since March that Flip was the leading candidate to replace Brown. And no one wants to file a strong objection?

I object!

The Pistons aren't so talented, so professional, so team-oriented that you can plug in any Flip, Rick or Larry. It takes a special coach to get a championship effort out of a team that inhales 'Sheed on a daily basis. Chauncey Billups can be incredibly blunt, and dealing with Ben-zilla can be stickeee-ickeee-ickeee, too.

Have I mentioned the pressure? Anything short of leading Detroit back to the Finals will be considered a failure.

I wouldn't be surprised if Dumars relieved some of the pressure on Flip by moving Rasheed Wallace this offseason. The Pistons drafted a power forward in the first round. Dumars still wants to see his 2003 draft gamble Darko Bowie, uh, Sam Milicic on the court. Trading 'Sheed would eliminate some of the championship pressure, free up court time for Darko and make Detroit's chemistry less combustible.

Flip doesn't command LB-type respect. 'Sheed versus Flip will be an ugly, first-month knockout scored by the ATM (automated technical machine).

You realize the only reason Flip made it out of the CBA is because he's best friends with McHale? They were college roommates at Minnesota. Flip was a CBA lifer -- head coach and front-office executive -- until McHale took over the Wolves and needed a yes-man to watch his back. McHale hired Flip as general manager. A few months later, McHale named his college buddy head coach.

Flip went seven straight years unable to get The Big Ticket out of the first round of the playoffs. Why do you think Flip survived that drought?

The same reason he survived the Joe Smith debacle in Minnesota. Flip's friendship with McHale bailed him out. McHale and Wolves owner Glen Taylor fell on the sword for the salary cap-evading, under-the-table contract offered to Smith that cost the Wolves four first-round draft picks. McHale was the ideas person and Saunders was the details person in their once-thought-to-be-dynamic duo. Saunders held the dual title of head coach/general manager. It was easier for McHale to swallow David Stern's suspension rather than have the commish pin the misdeed on Minnesota's head coach.

Saunders was eventually dismissed in Minnesota because McHale could no longer deny that his buddy had lost the confidence of KG. Saunders' unwillingness to deal firmly with Sprewell and Cassell undermined The Big Ticket's faith. Saunders is not an in-your-face taskmaster. He's a classic placater. He wants to make everyone happy. That characteristic, and Saunders' lack of defensive strategy, kept the Wolves in constant chaos until he was let go this past season. Unable to properly defend the pick-and-roll, Minnesota failed to qualify for the playoffs a year after making the Western Conference finals.

The Pistons are going from Carlisle and Brown to McHale's college drinking buddy. It takes a great deal of arrogance to take this sort of leap of faith. I'm not sure what it takes to co-sign for it. I'll have to ask my peers in Detroit … if they'll still talk to me.


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