BOSTON — I know you should try to find the up-side in everything. But the word that Pistons’ GM Jack McCloskey might be moving on to busier, if not greener, pastures in New York City doesn’t seem, at first glance, to have a lot of positive implications for the Pistons.
Let’s look at it. First, let’s admit that even looking is speculation. OK. Now let’s look at it. If McCloskey would go to the Knicks as their new GM, at the very least the Pistons would be losing a good front office force, who, in recent years, has gotten rid of the Tripucka-Benson era, ushered in the Adrian Dantley era, found several good draft choices — John Salley, Dennis Rodman, and Joe Dumars — and was just gearing up for a round of free-agency dealings with Rick Mahorn, Vinnie Johnson, Sid Green, Kurt Nimphius, Chuck Nevitt and Tony Campbell. Or, in mathematical terms, half the team.
Whoever would take over his job would be faced with that formidable task immediately. Not to mention McCloskey’s draft choices for 1987, which, if he should leave as is rumored in late June, would be one of his last acts as Pistons GM. And then who would coach? So you see what would be missing if McCloskey would pack his bags. Now let’s consider what would be left. First of all, Chuck Daly. It is no secret that Daly, the Pistons’ coach, is interested in moving into a GM’s position. He has said so everywhere in Detroit, and on network TV. The irony here is that Daly’s name was mentioned about 10 days ago as a top candidate for the Knicks job. But he never even took an interview, as McCloskey has, and obviously never received an offer, as McCloskey has already.
So what to do about Chuck? One obvious move would be to make him Pistons GM. The problem with that? Well, for one thing, it leaves the Pistons without a coach. I’d call that a significant concern. Secondly, no one knows what kind of GM Daly would make. He has proven himself on the bench. Behind the desk is still a question mark.
Let him do both, you say? Well. That seems to me the kind of idea that sounds fine in theory, then blows up in your face. I watched Daly sweat through this past season, the best in Detroit history, and you must understand, coaching the Pistons is no dream cruise. You have a number of divergent personalities — from Isiah Thomas to Bill Laimbeer to Dantley — and keeping all of them content and at peak performance is a job that, at times, looks big enough for six people, let alone one. Daly has done as well as anyone could imagine. But saddle him with the responsibilities of coach and GM, and common sense suggests that both would suffer.
All right. A third option. Bring in a new GM, and leave Daly right where he is. Well, you know Daly isn’t going to be happy with that. He’s almost 57. He’s looking to finish up coaching and move to the front office. He always thought that impossible in Detroit because McCloskey didn’t seem to be going anywhere. These spots don’t open up often. If Daly is overlooked now, should the job become available, he would likely resent it and look to get out of the organization as quickly as possible. He has only one year left on his contract anyhow. People harder than X’s and O’s And as long as we’re dealing in specualtion
(that always fruitful soil), let us bring in another name: Ron Rothstein. The assistant coach of the Pistons could be a figure in all of this as a possible successor to Daly as coach. A Daly-Rothstein tandem is imaginable, it would be keeping it all “within the Detroit family.” Perhaps it could even be successful. But again, Rothstein is a proven X-and-0 man; as far as meshing personalities, dealing with egos, and taking full responsibility, he is still
— like Daly as GM — a question mark. The only head coaching position he has ever held was in high school.
What then? A new coach? Who? A new GM? Who? What is Bill Davidson’s position? How would the players react to a new boss? Of course all of this is speculation. McCloskey may go nowhere — although the word now is he at least has a choice. Davidson could bring people in from the outside at all different positions. Daly could be offered something else. The Pistons could board a bus and fly to the moon.
But when you think about it, and it is certainly not inappropriate to do so, you can roll this whole McCloskey-to- New-York thing over and over and it’s hard to come up with a lot of positive out of it for the Eastern Conference runners- up; unless there’s some amazing GM out there unemployed and just dying to come to Detroit.
Hey. We said we were speculating.