Now the speculation begins. Will Flip Saunders stay or go? Or a more pointed question: Is the Pistons' coach already gone? The morning after the...
DETROIT — Now the speculation begins. Will Flip Saunders stay or go?
Or a more pointed question: Is the Pistons’ coach already gone?
The morning after the Pistons fell to the Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, players and coaches gathered their things, held informal meetings and left the practice facility for the final time this season — and possibly ever.
Hours later, the perceived top candidate to replace Saunders emerged. Assistant coach Michael Curry talked briefly about his future with the Pistons, but said he didn’t speak about the top job with team executives Saturday morning.
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There was no grand speech, no final word on their loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Players didn’t meet with team president Joe Dumars for exit interviews, and Saunders didn’t say anything to reporters.
What’s there to say? As the Pistons themselves finally admit, there was no excuse for what happened. They lost because they weren’t good enough. Now the question is how to get better. Two possible ways.
Relying more on a young core, with point guard Rodney Stuckey, forwards Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson.
Overhauling the veteran core or making a coaching switch to take a very good team to a championship level.
The players couldn’t answer the question Saturday, but they have suggestions. Point guard Chauncey Billups said because of the team’s youth, he doesn’t think an overhaul is smart.
“I feel like, when they talk about the window closing, I think, with our young guys, that the window opened up a little for us,” Billups said.
As for the coach, Saunders has one more year on his deal, but he could be fired by Dumars and replaced by Curry. No announcement had been made Saturday afternoon, but Billups said he’s not ready to pin all of the problems on Saunders.
If Saunders gets too much of the blame, it’s because the players don’t get enough. All of the core players are under contract for next season.
That’s possible, although it’s unclear who would go.
Billups and Tayshaun Prince each have three more seasons on their deals, making them harder to move.
Forward Rasheed Wallace, the only player who wasn’t at the informal locker cleanout, is in the final year of his deal.
SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Spurs forward Robert Horry said Saturday he’s considering stepping away from the game after winning seven NBA championships in a 16-season career.
“Right now I’m up in the air,” Horry said. “That’s all I can really tell you, up in the air. I want to play, 80 percent of me wants to play and I’m sure as soon as I get in the gym and see people bouncing the ball it would turn into 100 percent. So we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
The defending champion Spurs lost in the Western Conference finals to the Lakers in five games.
Horry, known as “Big Shot Rob” for a résumé filled with clutch baskets on the biggest stages, turns 38 in August.
During the playoffs, Horry passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most playoff appearances in NBA history. Horry finished this season with 244 playoff game appearances; Abdul-Jabbar had 237. Horry has been in the playoffs in every one of his NBA seasons.
“I think that if I stick around I’m still better than a lot of players,” Horry said. “I might not be as fast as a lot of them or as quick. But I’m smarter than probably about 98 percent of the league.”
Horry won two titles each with Houston and San Antonio and three with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s one of only eight players in league history with seven or more rings.
• Detroit point guard Chauncey Billups is scheduled to begin workouts for the U.S. Olympic team at the end of June. Whether that happens depends on his hamstring. If he’s not 100 percent healthy, he said he’d stay out of the competition.
• Spurs star Manu Ginobili expects his injured ankle to be healed for the Olympics, allowing him to play for defending champion Argentina.
• Terry Porter is expected to be interviewed for a second time by the Phoenix Suns later this week.