AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Flip Saunders was fired as the Pistons' coach yesterday, four days after Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
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."
Assistant coach Michael Curry appears to be the leading candidate to replace Saunders. Other possible candidates include Detroit assistant Terry Porter (if he is not hired by Phoenix) and former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.
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.
"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."
According to the Detroit Free Press, the players considered most likely to be traded are Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace. Billups could be replaced by Rodney Stuckey, who backed up Billups as a rookie.
In Saunders' three seasons, the Pistons were 176-70 in the regular season and 30-21 in the postseason, but they lost in the Eastern finals each year. The Pistons have appeared in six straight conference finals, the first franchise to do so since the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s.
After watching the Pistons blow a 10-point lead with 10-plus minutes left in Game 6 of the conference finals against the Celtics, Dumars said he had seen enough from this group.
"We didn't get it done," Dumars said.
Before coming to Detroit, Saunders was 411-326 with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 1995 to 2005. He led them to eight straight postseason appearances - seven first-round exits and an appearance in the 2004 conference finals. After leading the Timberwolves to a franchise-high 58 wins, he was fired with a 25-26 mark in the 2004-05 season.
Practicing for Boston.
Backup guard Tony Allen returned to the practice court as the Celtics prepared for the start of the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Allen, who has been used to guard Kobe Bryant at times, missed the last two games of the Eastern finals against Detroit after straining his right Achilles tendon in practice.
More coaching news.
Sacramento Kings assistant coach Chuck Person flew to Chicago for a second interview with the Bulls for their vacant head coaching job. Former 76ers guard Doug Collins remains a leading candidate for the job.