Sports Outside the Beltway

Pistons Fire Flip Saunders

Flip Saunders led the Detroit Pistons the the Eastern Conference finals three straight years. That’s why they fired him.

Flip Saunders Fired Photo In this April 8, 2008 file photo, Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders shouts instructions to his team in the second half of the Pistons' 98-94 loss to the New York Knicks in an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Detroit Pistons say Flip Saunders won't be back next season after leading the team to three straight appearances in the Eastern Conference finals. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars said Tuesday June 3, 2008 a change is necessary despite Saunders' successes. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson, File) Flip Saunders was fired as the Pistons’ coach Tuesday, four days after Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. And more changes could be on the way for a team bounced from three straight conference finals.

“Make no mistake, everybody is in play right now,” said Joe Dumars, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations. “There are no sacred cows here. You lose that sacred cow status when you lose three straight years.”

Saunders had a year left on a four-year deal he signed in 2005. His ouster comes three years after he took over for Larry Brown, who led the Pistons to two straight NBA finals.

“I think this team became way too content and did not show up with a sense of urgency to get it done,” Dumars said at a news conference. “I can’t sugarcoat it. It is what it is.”

Dumars stopped short of saying he would dismantle the Pistons. “The idea you can make yourself bad and make yourself good again, that’s a farce,” he said. “I have no interest in completely ripping the team down. Will I look to making significant changes? Yeah, you’re damn right I will.”

Bizarre. I don’t have the knowledge of the game to judge whether Saunders get the most out of the talent at hand. But, certainly, the Boston Celtics, to whom the Pistons lost in the finals, were widely considered the most talented team in the NBA. This strikes me as a knee-jerk move.

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