–New owner Tom Gores didn’t waste any time making an immediate impact, as he fired head coach John Kuester less than a week after acquiring the franchise. Kuester, who frequently clashed with his players, would have been fired last season if the ownership situation had not been in flux. Several candidates have surfaced for the job, including former Atlanta coach Mike Woodson, Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson, Minnesota assistant Bill Laimbeer and Boston assistant Lawrence Frank. Gores and president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, who cancelled a scouting trip to Europe to conduct the search, are looking for a defensive-minded coach who will command respect in the locker room.
Woodson might be the frontrunner because he was an assistant on Larry Brown’s staff when the Pistons won the 2004 championship, but Casey and Frank also have head coaching experience. Sampson, a highly successful but disgraced college coach, has impressed former Pistons executive and current Milwaukee GM John Hammond as an assistant under Scott Skiles.
–Barring a trade, the Pistons will have top 10 draft picks in back-to-back years for the first time since 1993-94. They selected Lindsey Hunter at No. 10 overall in 1993, then chose Grant Hill at No. 3 in 1994. Greg Monroe was the No. 7 pick last season and the Pistons own the No. 8 pick this month. The only other time since the NBA-ABA merger that the Pistons have drafted in the top 10 in consecutive years was a three-year stretch from 1981-83 when they chose Isiah Thomas (No. 2 in 1981), Cliff Levingston (No. 9 in 1982) and Antoine Carr (No. 8 in 1983). Carr is the only previous player drafted at No. 8 overall in franchise history.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“If we’re any good, we’re going to make mistakes. I want our leaders to not be afraid. Now, I don’t want you sitting with that mistake for a long time. If it was wrong, the next day, change it.” — New owner Tom Gores, on his management philosophy.
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