Thursday, July 9, 2009
The Detroit Pistons confirmed Cleveland Cavaliers assistant John Kuester as their sixth coach in 10 years on Thursday.
Joe Dumars, the team's president of basketball operations, hasn't been known for showing patience with head coaches, but he insisted that will change with the hiring of Kuester.
Dumars said Kuester "might have the most job security of anyone in the NBA."
"Bless you, Joe," said Kuester with a laugh.
Kuester replaces Michael Curry, who was fired on June 30 after going 39-43 in his first season and being swept by Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs. Detroit had reached the Eastern Conference finals in the previous six seasons under Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders.
Detroit has almost completely turned over that roster, with only Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince remaining from the 2003-04 championship team. They added Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in the first hours of free agency last week.
"For the last seven years, the criteria for success here has been making the finals," said Dumars. "That's not the gun that will be held to John's head. Right now, we're looking to move this franchise back in the right direction."
Kuester has 19 years of NBA experience, including 13 as an assistant with five teams, but hasn't been a pro head coach.
"I told (Curry) that it wasn't fair to put an inexperienced coach in this position," Dumars said. "I still think that's the case — John has seen a lot more things in his 19 years in the NBA than Michael has had a chance to see."
Kuester was Brown's assistant when the Pistons upset the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 finals, and said that experience helped him decide to tackle the rebuilding job in Detroit.
"You never know when an opportunity will come up, but when I was thinking about this, I kept finding signs — a Pistons shirt in my closet and a Pistons name tag in the next room," he said. "I'm coming to a place where there are a lot of people that I know and trust."
Kuester brushed aside any concerns he might have had about being Dumars' obvious third choice.
"My wife told me that I was her sixth choice, and we've been married for 32 years," he joked. "So Joe and I have a real chance."