Sources: Bucks lure Hammond away from Dumars' side to be new GM
Various teams have tried in recent years, but it's the Milwaukee Bucks who have managed to lure John Hammond away from the Detroit Pistons to be their new general manager, according to NBA front-office sources.
Sources say Hammond is expected to make a strong push to hire former Pistons coach Rick Carlisle as the Bucks' next coach.
Sources told ESPN.com on Friday that Hammond, pursued in recent years by Portland, Toronto and others after a long and successful run as Joe Dumars' top aide in Detroit, has accepted the Bucks' offer and will be officially introduced as Larry Harris' replacement as early as Monday.
Even Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers was aware of the impending move as he revealed the secret before Friday night's game against Milwaukee. Told that the Bucks hadn't even made it official yet, Rivers said, "It's official. So, let's make it official."
Bucks spokesman Dan Smyczek said the team had nothing to announce. Coach Larry Krystkowiak said he hadn't heard the news, but that it wouldn't be a surprise to him.
"I was anticipating that something was going to happen pretty soon, but I hadn't heard any news at this point. Just trying to get a win," he said before the game.
"He's a great guy, he really knows the game," Rivers said. "He coached the game and been upstairs -- that's a great combination because he'll have feelings for coaches."
Asked if he had it on good authority, Rivers said, "Someone relayed it to me."
"I used to live in Milwaukee, you know," he said.
Hammond's first task in Milwaukee, according to sources, will be hiring a veteran coach to help the Bucks make a firm assessment of their talent after a group expected to compete for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference woefully underachieved in Krystkowiak's first full season on the bench.
Sources say Hammond is expected to make a strong push to hire former Pistons coach Rick Carlisle. Working as an ESPN analyst this season after leaving the Indiana Pacers, Carlisle is also widely considered as a strong candidate to coach the Chicago Bulls next season.
The Bucks awoke Friday with a record of 26-52, placing them a lowly 13th in the East. Sources told ESPN.com last month that Krystkowiak's dismissal at season's end was considered a certainty no matter who succeeded Harris because of owner Herb Kohl's desire for more experience on the bench.
Asked about reports that Hammond would be looking to bring in a veteran coach, Krystkowiak said before Friday's game: "Until I hear those words from his mouth ... at that point, if that were true, I'd be disappointed."
The Bucks and Harris parted company on March 19 after Harris, with his contract expiring in June, initiated a series of meetings aimed at either securing an extension or bringing a halt to the growing uncertainty surrounding his lame-duck status before the end of the regular season.
Milwaukee did show interest in new Knicks president Donnie Walsh as well as TNT analyst Doug Collins. Yet the Bucks knew landing either of them to replace Harris was a long shot given New York's desperation to hire the longtime Pacers executive and Walsh's strong urge to take over his hometown team, as well as Collins' reluctance to leave the TV arena.
Hammond also initially resisted the Bucks' overtures but eventually decided that this was the right time to leap after working in the Pistons' front office since the 2001-02 season, operating closely with Dumars in the construction of a roster that has delivered seven consecutive 50-win seasons and five straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals, highlighted by Detroit's run to the championship in 2004. Hammond has also been an assistant coach in Detroit and previously worked on the bench and in the front office with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In addition to Walsh and Collins, other candidates Milwaukee considered include Phoenix Suns vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, two veteran GMs in Rick Sund and Billy King, Washington Wizards executive Tommy Sheppard and the two top aides to R.C. Buford in San Antonio: Dennis Lindsey and Dell Demps.
Although the Pistons were reluctant to lose Hammond to a division rival, Dumars still has a strong staff that includes director of basketball operations Tony Ronzone and director of basketball administration Jeff Weltman.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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