Lawrence Frank is closing out a second losing season in Detroit and considers Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo a good friend he would trust for restaurant advice. He also considers Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau a good friend and has a relationship with Atlanta head coach Larry Drew from having him on his coaching staff with the Nets.
So although Frank seemed happy for the success of the team which gave him his start as an NBA head coach nine years ago, he’s not about to go dispensing complex scouting tips about the Hawks or Bulls.
“I love P.J. I’m going to ask first [for a] good restaurant because P.J’s going to hammer that one down,” Frank said. “But yeah, the thing is as coaches it’s always dicey because P.J.’s a good friend. Potentially they could play Chicago and Tom is a very, very good friend of mine. Potentially they could play Atlanta and Larry Drew worked with me in New Jersey. So sometimes you just stay out of it.”
Even with Frank’s lack of advice, he still thinks highly of the team that employed him for nearly a decade, especially with how Deron Williams has played since the break.
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“I think especially with the way Deron is playing post All-Star break, they’re going to be a very tough, tough team, especially because in the playoff game where it comes to a grinding halt, your ability to have guys who can make plays on their own [is big],” Frank said. “You have three in Deron, Joe and Brook and with a good supporting cast. And I think their bench has had some very good moments. So if those guys can play at a very high level, they’re going to be a tough out for anyone.”
Carlesimo has had the best start through 53 games of any of the 21 men to coach the franchise. He is also the first interim coach to lead the Nets to the postseason since Frank in 2004 with a team that had Kenyon Martin, Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson as its Top 3 players.
That team won the first 13 games after Frank took over in January 2004 and lost to the Pistons in a six-game Eastern Conference semifinal. The Nets were coming off back-to-back NBA finals appearances and the veteran Pistons of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace upset the so-called super team of Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton and Karl Malone.
Frank made three more playoff appearances with the Nets while also coaching Vince Carter. His tenure with New Jersey ended after a 0-16 start in the 72-loss 2009-10 season.
Since leaving the Nets, Frank has taken over a rebuilding program with the Pistons, who are trying to end the season with five straight wins.
The Nets have had so much roster turnover since November 2009 that Brook Lopez is the only remaining player from the Frank years. Lopez was a second-year center when Frank was fired but even then he always saw the offensive potential that turned Lopez into a first-time All-Star this season.
“Brook’s been great,” Frank said. “Brook has always had really good offensive ability. He’s developed a really good back-to-basket game. He’s always been a good face up perimeter shooter and he’s got great hands. Now what he’s added is the defensive portion and that takes time. If you look at what he’s done in terms of blocking shots and his rebounding has been up from what they were last year and his character is off-the-charts high — great, great person.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.