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Is NBA’er Frank Really A Candidate At Tennessee?

As Bruce Pearl twisted in the wind over the weekend, Jeff Goodman of tossed out longtime NBA coach Lawrence Frank as a surprising dark horse candidate to replace him.  While, yes, it does sound a bit like the “Jon Gruden’s coming!” rumors that swirl on college campuses each January, there seems to be a bit more fire to go along with the smoke in this Frank-to-Tennessee chatter.

Multiple league sources have confirmed that Boston Celtics lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank is among the early frontrunners to become the next head coach at the University of Tennessee.

That from Comcast Sports New England’s Celtics beatwriter A. Sherrod Blakely.  If Frank were a Clippers coach, we’d have no take on this.  But as this MrSEC writer is also a Celtics fan — who watches Blakely report on the team each night via satellite — I’m swayed a bit by the man doing the reporting.  He’s solid.

And Blakely goes on to state the following regarding Frank, who served for three years as a UT assistant in the ’90s under Kevin O’Neill:

His interest in the Tennessee job speaks not only about his desire to once again become a head coach — regardless of the level of play — but also about the likelihood of Doc Rivers returning next season as the Celtics’ head coach.

If Frank had any indication that Rivers was indeed planning to step down after this season as the Celtics head coach, he understands that he would be one of the first to get serious consideration for the job.

It’s also suggested that Frank — who was head coach of the New Jersey Nets just two seasons ago — would ask for a long-term contract from UT that would include “some type of out-clause that would allow him to return to the NBA.”

It certainly seems doubtful that a man who has spent 14 years in the NBA and has never been a head coach in college would choose — out of the blue — to dive into the world of recruiting and discipline and parents and boosters.  Especially at a place that’s about to spanked by the NCAA.  Possible, yes.  Likely, no.

And what if Blakely — who we respect — is reading the tea leaves wrong on this occasion?  Hey, as a Celtics supporter, I saw Rivers’ reaction when Kendrick Perkins was recently traded away.  He did not seem like a man who was happy with his decision to return to the C’s for one more title run with his team of long-in-tooth vets.  One of his favorite vets had been shipped out of town.

So what if Frank’s interest in Tennessee shows that he thinks Rivers is definitely gone rather than definitely staying?  Might he be using UT’s interest as leverage to land some sort of coach-in-waiting title from GM Danny Ainge?  You can be sure Boston doesn’t want a distraction — like a coach flirting or actually leaving — during a championship push.

That scenario seems just as likely as Frank actually landing back in Knoxville.

As for Tennessee, it’s good that the school appears to be targeting a “name,” outside-the-box hire.  Many fans are still upset over the Pearl firing and it’s doubtful they’d be standing at the box office clamoring for tickets if the Volunteers hired some mid-major coach with a very short resume to replace him.

We look forward to following this one over the next few days.  If nothing else, this unusual story beats covering the Arkansas-Missouri tug-of-war for Mike Anderson. 

A young pro coach with no college head coaching experience coming to Tennessee.  How could that not work?



I'm not a Vol fan even tho I live in Tn, I'm a Memphis Tiger fan but I hate to see UT get scr*wed like they have with the football coach and now with the basketball coach. Pearl was good for the basketball program, it's a shame he made the mistakes he did. I think the people who did the hiring at UT are the problem, replace them also if the coaches are to be replaced. Clean slate would be best for every one.


i dont belive tenn wants a good team and they wont aslong they keep people like trickie dickie and mike hamilton around if everone would quit going to the games maybe someone will wakeup. go pat summit


The first thing Tennessee needs to do before hiring a basketball coach is to FIRE Mike Hamilton. Hamilton is a disgrace to Tennessee. He fired Phil Fulmer a year after giving him a contract extension. Phil Fulmer was the 2nd most successful football coach in Tennessee history (see The General). Hamilton also fired the baseball coach and replaced him with a coach of less ability and Hamilton CHICKENED OUT of playing North Carolina in the 2011 season.


It will be interesting to see whom ends up at UT. Green and Pearl both showed that you can win and win big at the school. We have shown for the past 6 years that we can compete at a high level and support a basketball program as well as any other program in the nation. The only question is it enough to attract a someone that is willing to deal with the next season or two? Which may not be pretty. Then if Pearl only gets a 2 year show clause - the new coach may be looking over his shoulder at the old popular coach that is unemployed and I am sure will not be silent. Of course by then, Pearl's name might not hold the same magic as it does right now. His support is eroding fast, and he might have little to none for a repeat in two years.


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