By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
BOSTON CSNNE.com has learned that Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank will be the next head coach of the Detroit Pistons, with an announcement to be made within the next day or two.
The story was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Frank, who spent six-plus seasons as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets, has been in a two-man race for the Pistons job with ex-Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson who was an assistant on the Pistons' 2004 NBA championship team.
The job became available when the Pistons fired head coach, and former Celtics assistant, John Kuester.
With Frank becoming the next head coach of the Pistons, that creates another void on the coaching staff. Former Celtics coaching assistant Darren Erman accepted a similar coaching position with the Golden State Warriors earlier this month.
Of the two, filling the void left by Frank would be a greater priority.
The man the Celtics may turn to may very well be the man Frank beat out for the Pistons job.
Woodson has maintained that he wants back in as a head coach.
"I think I did enough during my first head coaching stint to deserve another shot at running a team," Woodson told CSNNE.com earlier.
After winning just 13 games during his first season in Atlanta, the Hawks improved their winning percentage every season afterward under Woodson which included three consecutive trips to the playoffs -- something no Atlanta coach had done since Lenny Wilkens, the all-time winningest coach in NBA history, in the mid-to-late 1990s.
But there's a reason why the Hawks didn't renew his contract. Woodson proved what he could do with a young, moldable group of players. But it was unclear if Woodson could take the Hawks beyond being a team that every now and then would get out of the first round, but go no further than that.
When you look at the Celtics moving forward, there's little doubt that they'll continue to get younger and more athletic.
They took steps in addressing that by drafting Purdue All-American Jajuan Johnson in the first round of last month's NBA draft.
One of Woodson's strengths, even dating back to his days as an assistant with Larry Brown in Philadelphia and later in Detroit, was his ability to help develop young players.
Joe Johnson is talented and showed flashes of that in Phoenix, but the former first round pick of the Celtics didn't become an all-star talent until he arrived in Atlanta. And Josh Smith, one of the most freakishly athletic players in the NBA, is still a work in progress.
But there's no denying he is a more complete player now in part because of the many run-ins he had with Woodson, who has never shied away from pushing a younger player if he sees more in them than they're showcasing.
Woodson actually spent some time in Boston this past season checking out a couple Celtics practices.
Doc Rivers has made a habit of inviting recently fired coaches to his practices during the season.
"I don't get to sit in anybody's veterans camp," Woodson told CSNNE.com. "To be invited in, get a chance to sit in and see what these other guys are doing, it's kind of nice. You're always competing on the sidelines against them during the season; just to watch them conduct practice and the various things they do. I take a few notes, and try to incorporate some things in what you do and move on."
Don't think for a minute it's a one-way street.
"It's just great to have a fresh set of eyes see your team, and give you feedback," Rivers told CSNNE.com earlier this past season. "They'll all say this helps them, but I get something out of it, too."
Rivers did the same thing with Frank when he was fired by the Nets a couple years ago.
While that didn't necessarily seal the deal for him coming to Boston, "it didn't hurt," Rivers said.
We'll see if a similar ending plays out with Woodson.