All or nothing seems to be the formula for coaching the Detroit Pistons. Bring home an NBA championship or hit the road.
First-year coach Michael Curry became the latest Pistons coach to get the ax as president for basketball operations Joe Dumars fired him Tuesday after watching his team stumble to a sub-.500 record and an embarrassing first-round exit from the playoffs.
But winning playoff games hasn't been enough to keep Pistons management happy. Just ask Flip Saunders.
Dumars fired Saunders last season after he led the team to the Eastern Conference finals in each of his three seasons. Curry was an assistant under Saunders for one season.
In 2005, the Pistons parted ways with Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown after he helped them win a title and almost repeat during his two years with the team. And Rick Carlisle was fired after two years with the Pistons following a conference finals appearance in 2003 in his second season and NBA Coach of the Year honors in his first.
Curry and Dumars shared playing days together with Detroit. That may have helped Curry land the coaching job last year, but it wasn't enough to keep him in it.
The Pistons went 39-43 in 2008-09 and were swept in the postseason in four lopsided losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers after six straight conference finals appearances. Dumars said after that series that Curry would return, but changed his mind by Tuesday.
"This was a difficult decision to make," Dumars said in a statement. "I want to thank Michael for his hard work and dedication to the organization. However, at this time, I have decided to make a change."
Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg said the timetable for naming a new coach was up in the air.
"Obviously with the free agency period starting tomorrow (Wednesday), we don't know quite the speed of it," Grigg said.
Another ex-Pistons player and former Dumars teammate, Bill Laimbeer, stepped down in June as coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock, saying he wanted a shot at coaching in the NBA. An e-mail message was left for Laimbeer seeking comment Tuesday.
The Pistons began the season with big hopes but couldn't recover from the loss of All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups in a November trade to Denver for Allen Iverson _ a move intended to feature Iverson's creativity and create time for emerging guard Rodney Stuckey.
Instead, the Pistons fell apart. They won just three games in February and three in April, plummeting to the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff seeding and a no-win matchup with LeBron James and the Cavs.
The playoff series loss ended a dominant run: The Pistons and the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers are the only franchises to play in six straight conference finals since 1970-71, when teams had to win two series to advance that far.
Immediately after the season, Dumars defended Curry.
"It was an up-and-down season for him," Dumars said then. "And, an up-and down-season for us. ... The fact that we made so many changes for a first-year coach, I had to step back and be a little more patient than I have been. ... I tried to put myself in his shoes."
A telephone message seeking comment was left for Curry on Tuesday. In January, he said he expected to be held responsible for the team's fortunes.
"It's part of the job," he said. "When you lose, it's the coach's fault. When you win, the players get the praise."
Dumars last week started rebuilding the roster. The Pistons may very well part with unrestricted free agents Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, and they picked up forwards Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko in last week's draft.
Curry, who played for the Pistons in 1995-1997 and 1999-2003, started his playing career as an undrafted free agent during the 1993-94 season in Philadelphia and ended during the 2004-05 season with the Indiana Pacers.
Near the end of his playing career, Curry headed the NBA players' association, leading it from 2001-2003. He later served as the NBA Development League's vice president for player development and the NBA's vice president for basketball operations.
Curry averaged 4 1/2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 20 minutes a game over his career, which also included stints in Milwaukee, Toronto and Washington. His defense and leadership kept him in the league despite averaging less than seven points a season.