Up in the Air

Frank’s rotation might still be in flux as preseason comes to a close

Lawrence Frank may be rethinking the virtues of establishing a firm rotation just yet.
J. Dennis/Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
Lawrence Frank has maintained all along that the Pistons’ rotation would be more fluid than static. That’s as much the case as it’s ever been, by all available evidence, with the preseason down to its final game.

“The more and more I watch, the one thing that’s clear – very similar to last year – is there may not be a true rotation,” Frank said after Thursday’s practice, the day after the Pistons lost to Minnesota in Winnipeg, Manitoba, making them 0-4 on the road and 3-4 overall for the preseason. “It’s not a given. You’ve got to earn it. Another guy’s going well, hey, it’s that guy’s night. Until we can get consistent play, that’s basically how you’ve got to coach.”

Frank previously had said he hoped to use the last two preseason games as approximations of both the rotation and substitution patterns for next week’s regular season start. But the Pistons have struggled to stay close in road games – they trailed by 29 in the first half against Minnesota – and that might have contributed to Frank rethinking the virtues of establishing a firm rotation just yet.

“It won’t be helter-skelter,” he said, “but if a guy is just not giving the required effort it takes to win, you’ve got to give the next guy a chance. That may not impact the rotation. Hey, maybe it does. You’ve got to give the next guy a chance. As a coach, your loyalty is to the team. It can’t be to any individual. As a building team, we’ve got to make sure every single night we’re bringing it.

“We have a lot of talented guys; it’s not like there’s a huge disparity. For the guys who aren’t playing, you can make an argument for them to play. If a guy ahead of them isn’t doing his part, you’ve got to give the next guy an opportunity. At the end of the day, the goal is to win the game.”

Frank’s starting five has remained unchanged from last season and throughout the preseason: Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell. Over the last few preseason games, the constants off the bench – at least with Corey Maggette out of the mix as he recuperates from a left calf strain – have been Will Bynum in the backcourt and Kyle Singler, Andre Drummond and Jonas Jerebko up front. Kim English was the only other player to play in Wednesday night’s first half.

“I’m just watching every day, practice to games,” Frank said. “It’s not where you’re going to make it a fire drill, but at the same time, reality is reality. When you do your part, you get rewarded with minutes. When you don’t do your part, someone else gets a chance.”