AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Lawrence Frank's tenure in Detroit is over, and the Pistons are still searching for a coach who can revive the franchise.
The Pistons fired Frank on Thursday after he went 54-94 in two seasons with Detroit. The team announced the move one day after the Pistons lost at Brooklyn to finish this season 29-53.
The next new coach Detroit hires will be the team's ninth since 1999, and although the Pistons won a championship in 2004, their decline has been sharp in recent years.
"We thank Lawrence for his hard work and dedication, but we feel it is in the best interest of the franchise to make a change at this time," team president Joe Dumars said. "Decisions like this are never easy and we wish Lawrence well in the future."
Owner Tom Gores, who took over just before Frank was hired, said earlier this week he expected better results this season and was still assessing the future of both Frank and Dumars.
Frank did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.
Frank took over before the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign, but the rebuilding Pistons have been slow to improve despite drafting in the lottery the last three years. This is a big offseason for Detroit, which traded veterans Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince in the last year and has a decent amount of space under the salary cap.
Frank lost 20 of his first 24 games with the Pistons after the lockout, but Detroit was more competitive toward the end of the 2011-12 season and had reason to hope the worst was over.
Instead, the Pistons lost their first eight games this season. They were playing better by early January, but they slipped again after they lost promising rookie Andre Drummond for an extended stretch because of a back injury. Detroit went 1-13 in March. Frank missed six games that month because his wife fell seriously ill and he returned to New Jersey.
"This has been a very tough season, you know, both professionally and personally," Frank said Wednesday as Detroit's season came to a close. "Could we have won some more games? Of course. Do we have a long ways to go? Yes."
This was Frank's ninth season as a head coach in the NBA. He got his start with the New Jersey Nets in 2003-04 at age 33 and spent seven seasons coaching the Nets.
Frank's fate may have been sealed during March, when the Pistons were uncompetitive at times. Detroit lost by 39 at San Antonio on March 3 and by 37 at home against Brooklyn on March 18.
"Not a lot of positives you can take away from this season, but we went through adversity together," swingman Kyle Singler said. "It's motivation to get better."
Detroit remained in title contention in the years immediately following its 2004 championship, but the Pistons haven't made the playoffs since 2009. After Flip Saunders was fired in 2008, Michael Curry lasted only one season as coach and John Kuester made it through two.
Assuming the Pistons don't bring back one of their previous coaches, this will be their ninth different coach since 1999. Only the Washington Wizards — with 10 — have had more, according to STATS.
Gores showed up for Detroit's home finale Monday and said he was looking forward to the offseason — but that there needed to be accountability for the team's poor showing.
"We've set ourselves up financially — and basketball operations has set ourselves up — so I'm very excited about the future," Gores said. "But I'm not content about how we performed this year."
Gores stressed the importance of this offseason. The Pistons finally have some roster flexibility, and they have some young talent in Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, but they can't afford to waste another opportunity to improve.
"We are prepared to spend, and we are prepared to do what we have to do to get this franchise forward," Gores said. "Make no doubt about it, we want to win. Yes, you can tell the world: We're ready to spend."
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