It appears as if sanity has prevailed in Detroit. In relative terms, of course.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News — a man who fully expects both Skeets and I to be in our pajamas at this exact moment (joke's on Chris, he's only half right!) — is reporting that after a meeting with Pistons president Joe Dumars on Saturday, Flip Saunders will be retained as Piston coach.
Most expected Saunders to get the axe after a third-straight Conference finals flameout for the Pistons, but as cooler heads are prevailing, it still behooves us to mention that it wasn't Saunders who decided to needlessly foul Paul Pierce with 90 seconds left in Game 6 on Friday night, and it's not Flip's fault that Rasheed Wallace is a team-killing nutter.
We'll leave it to McCosky to break down the list Rasheed's recent misdeeds:
• Left Robert Horry open for a winning, series-altering 3-pointer in Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals.
• Injured his ankle in Game 2 of the Eastern conference semifinals against Cleveland in 2006; neither he nor the Pistons were the same after that.
• Defied the coach's defensive plans against LeBron James in Game 5 of the conference finals in 2007 -- the confusion from which contributed to James scoring 25 straight points -- and then got ejected from Game 6.
• Spewed a profanity-laced tirade at the officials after Game 5 of the conference finals this season, earning a $25,000 fine, then showed up late to the team's shoot-around before a must-win Game 6, a game in which he managed just four points on 2-for-12 shooting.
In general, his playoff performances haven't matched his regular-season production. In 2004, he only shot 41 percent (24 percent from 3-point range) and averaged just three more points a game than Ben Wallace.
But, by all means, continue to blame Saunders for bringing the Pistons down. It's not as if the Pistons were lucky in any way to get past an injured (and infighting) Laker team in 2004 (or never to have faced that year's Timberwolves, Spurs, or Kings teams in the Finals), or an injured-in-Game 7 Heat team in the 2005 Conference finals. Sure, the ankle thing wasn't Rasheed's fault, but I've a feeling (and the cynic in me has a hope) that history will treat this Pistons team a little differently than the modern mainstream media.
Much of how I feel about Saunders' turn as Minnesota and Detroit coach was relayed in this piece from a few weeks ago, but it almost goes without saying that I was hoping the guy would sort of work towards encouraging a parting of the ways, and take to coaching a team that deserves his talents.