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Flip fired

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AUBURN HILLS -- Apparently, Pistons owner Bill Davidson has seen enough of the Flip Saunders era.

The Pistons fired Saunders on Tuesday after three seasons in which he compiled the highest winning percentage (.715) in franchise history. Saunders had one year remaining on his contract, for which he will be paid $5.4 million.

"Decisions like this are difficult to make, especially with the success the Pistons had throughout the last three regular seasons," team president Joe Dumars said in a statement. "However, at this time, I feel it is necessary to make a change. I thank Flip for his hard work and dedication, but it is time for a new voice to lead our team."

Saunders was 176-70 during the regular season and 30-21 in the playoffs.

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That's not right. Poor guy always gets the short end of the stick. He was blamed here and wasn't the problem. To have a team that's been that good and get fired is backwards. They did get to the conference round. You can't get in the finals everytime. And the games were close.

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Rasheed really crudded the bed with his poor play and attitude this postseason. If anything, Saunders coached better this year than last. 6 (3 with Saunders) consecutive Eastern Conference Finals...can't get much better really. They were getting old fast and weren't doing much about it. Plus they really biffed the 2003 draft when they took Milicic. They would have been the next dynasty if they make the right pick there.

I think Flip's a darn good coach. He gets a lot of run out of average players. But I also feel for the guy...he's never won the big one. I don't think firing him was the right thing, but that's the NBA. It's tough and too often the players run the teams and not the coaches or management.

Flip will land on his feet somewhere in the league. He's too good not to. Hard to feel bad when the guy walks away with a 5 million dollar check.

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Flip will land on his feet somewhere in the league. He's too good not to. Hard to feel bad when the guy walks away with a 5 million dollar check.

exactly what i was thinking...

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I dont think they made the right move on this. I think flip is one of the best coaches in the NBA. I think it was the wrong move and there goign to hurt from it without him there.

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How about that Joe Dumars? He fired his coach, then made bigger news at the press conference.

The Pistons president said he will try to shake up his core, a surprisingly bold statement intended to send a message to the rest of the league: Call me.

Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace are most likely to go. Richard Hamilton and Antonio McDyess are most likely to stay. Tayshaun Prince falls somewhere in between. I will explain all that in a second. But first, a word about the coach:

Michael Curry is the heavy favorite to be the next coach. This does not mean it's a done deal. It definitely won't happen this week.

Dumars will talk to Pistons assistant Terry Porter, the former Milwaukee head coach, and former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, a fellow Louisianan who is interested in the job. But the job clearly is Curry's to lose, and he is unlikely to lose it.

When the new coach holds his first practice, which starter will be gone? I'll list them in order, from most likely to be traded to least likely:

1. Chauncey Billups

Last summer, the Pistons invested up to $60.5 million in Mr. Big Shot. So why is he the most likely to go? A few reasons.

Dumars talked Tuesday about a lack of urgency in his players. Billups is as responsible for that as anybody. Dumars surely wants a renewed emphasis on defense, and Billups is the weakest defender among starters.

Billups is most likely to go because teams covet point guards more than other positions, and the Pistons have two.

The Pistons believe Rodney Stuckey can be an elite point guard -- sooner rather than later. Billups, meanwhile, is still an All-Star-caliber player. Anybody with a young roster and a hole at point guard would have to be interested in him.

Billups has four years left on his contract, but the last year is not guaranteed. He is owed $36.3 million over the next three years -- reasonable by the NBA's unreasonable standards. So he is highly tradeable.

With Stuckey in the fold, the Pistons could package Billups and a young bench player for a high-scoring forward.

2. Rasheed Wallace

Wallace easily could go, but it's not just because the Pistons simply want to wash their hands of him. It is because he has high trade value.

Wallace's contract is up after next season, and in the wacky world of the NBA, that makes him more attractive to others. Expiring contracts mean future salary-cap space.

Wallace also is a 6-foot-10 forward with rare skills (though he didn't flash those skills enough during the Boston series). A contender might see him as the missing piece, and seeing as he has one year left on his deal, the risk is limited.

Dumars received several calls about Wallace last summer. He didn't really consider a trade then. He'll listen hard this time.

3. Tayshaun Prince

Other teams will want Prince for obvious reasons: He is the youngest Pistons starter (28), he has a reputation as an elite defensive player, and he is versatile.

But at times in recent years, Prince has not lived up to his defensive reputation -- he got torched by LeBron James in last year's playoffs and overpowered, at times, by Paul Pierce in this year's conference finals. Worse, Prince sometimes disappears offensively when he draws a big defensive assignment.

Prince might have saved his Pistons career with his performance in the first two rounds of the playoffs, when he was the team's best player. If he goes, it probably would be in a package with Billups or Wallace for a star.

4. Antonio McDyess

Sense of urgency? If anything, McDyess has too much of a sense of urgency. When the team loses two straight in January, he is apoplectic.

McDyess probably has more value to the Pistons than to anybody else. His attitude, reasonable contract and skill set are all appealing to the Pistons. But he turns 34 in September and is unlikely to fetch a big offer.

Expect him back.

5. Richard Hamilton

Rip isn't going anywhere. He is still among the best in the NBA at using screens, and he is a rare player who can average 20 points without dominating the ball.

Hamilton often has been compared to Reggie Miller -- another long, thin jump shooter who kept himself in great shape. Miller was an effective player into his late 30s. Rip is 30.

Of course, other teams like Hamilton for the same reasons. But if the Pistons trade him, they would need to acquire somebody with similar skills in the deal, and why trade Rip for a Rip imitation?

Besides, Hamilton would provide a perfect complement to Stuckey, who can drive to the basket at will but needs to work on his jump shot.

A Hamilton-Stuckey backcourt could keep the Pistons in contention for several years. And you might see it as soon as next season.

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I will agree with everyone else that Flip was not the problem!!! It's not his fault his player didn't show any heart and let a ten point lead slip away in game 6. When are the owners going to start putting some blame on the players?? It always seems like the coaches get blamed for everything but i think it's time to put some blame on the players. Rasheed needs to stop playing like an out side shooting and get down low. They were 26th in the league last year in points from down low!!!

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Flip is to nice of a guy to be a good coach.

When the players dont fear or respect you its a huge problem and thats what happened in Detroit.

Flip should be a college coach.

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