Daily Grind

Dumars, Frank end their workdays by “debriefing” each other

Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank have their work cut out for them for the start of the 2011-12 season.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Joe Dumars’ office sits one floor above Lawrence Frank’s alongside the basketball court at the Pistons’ practice facility, and many of their workdays this summer have concluded with them sharing perspectives over the desk of one or the other. But Joe D knows Frank has been going at it long before they congregate to, as he puts it, “debrief each other,” and not just because Frank’s car is always in the parking lot before sunrise.

“Most of the time,” he laughed, “I hear Lawrence here in the office before I see him. He’s got this booming voice. I hear him up and down the hallways all day long before he ever gets to my office. For me, it’s been absolutely great to have that type of energy and excitement and passion and enthusiasm in the building. It’s been great.”

When the Pistons hired Frank in July, Dumars said the unusual circumstances of the NBA’s summer allowed him the unique opportunity to get to know his new head coach in depth as the interview process strung out longer than any he’d previously conducted. So he hasn’t learned anything that’s necessarily surprised him in their many shared hours since hiring Frank to succeed John Kuester. What he has picked up has merely reinforced his beliefs that Frank is amazingly thorough and organized in his approach to his profession.

“He compartmentalizes all aspects of the game,” Dumars said. “If you have a conversation with him about a specific scenario, it’s been compartmentalized. You can have that conversation with him. Whatever you talk to him about, he’s already thought about it. He’s already probably written it down, thought it out. You know you’re not going to walk into Lawrence’s office and discuss something with him that he hasn’t thought about and put some time into it.”

They’ve talked about everything from big-picture philosophy to the nuts and bolts that make up the 82-game ordeal of an NBA season. They’ve talked about players Frank has coached elsewhere in the league and the players he’ll likely coach when the season starts.

“We have those conversations every day,” Dumars said. “We both grind every day, long days, and usually at the end of the day we’ll get together and we’ll go over everything. He’s watching tape and reading reports. Toward the end of the day, I’ll go down to his office or he’ll come up here and we’ll spend a couple of hours before we go home, just rehash a lot of basketball. We’ll debrief each other at the end of every day.”

Dumars was party to the on-court auditions Frank set up for some among the 31 candidates he contacted to fill out spots on his coaching staff, which is in the final stages of coming together, an impressive group that should be publicly announced shortly.

“Lawrence just sat back and observed those guys,” Dumars said. “He stepped back and allowed them to do their thing on the court. I was watching Lawrence while he was watching them. It was interesting to see it unfold.”

Dumars and his front-office staff have spent their summers reviewing their modes of operation from A to Z – we’ll look more into that next week in another True Blue Pistons blog – and that’s a process he’s found enormously valuable. Part of that has included updating and expanding databases on personnel across the league, an exercise enhanced by those conversations he’s had with Frank.

“I’ve said to him things like, ‘Here’s the view I have of this particular player, but you’ve coached him. Is that the real deal or is it something different?’ And he’s kind of done the same thing,” Dumars said. “ ‘Here’s my view, but was my view from the outside looking in on target or was it off?’ We kind of fill in the blanks for each other. I’ve asked him about a lot of players he’s coached in the past and things they’ve done and he’s asked a lot of questions about guys who’ve been here and personalities.”

Bottom line, on both floors of the practice facility – Joe D and his front office staffers above, Lawrence Frank and his coaching staff below – there is an air of confidence that they’ll be as well-prepared as anywhere in the NBA for the scheduled Nov. 2 season opener.