Kuester: 'There is no magic formula'
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- In his decade running the Detroit Pistons, Joe Dumars hasn't been known for showing patience with head coaches. He insists that is about to change.
Moments after introducing Cavaliers assistant John Kuester as Detroit's sixth coach in 10 years, Dumars said Thursday that Kuester "might have the most job security of anyone in the NBA."
"Bless you, Joe," Kuester said with a laugh.
Kuester replaces Michael Curry, who was fired on June 30 after the Pistons went 39-43 in his first season and were 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. It added Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in the first hours of free agency.
"For the last seven years, the criteria for success here has been making the finals," said Dumars, the team's president of basketball operations. "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."
When Dumars fired Curry, he said he wanted a coach with more experience and there was speculation that veterans like Doug Collins or Avery Johnson would take the reins. Neither situation came together, though Dumars did talk with Johnson about the job.
"There is no magic formula -- our philosophy will be to do things the right way. Hard work will be the key to our success," the 54-year-old Kuester said.
Kuester has 19 years of NBA experience, including 13 as an assistant with five teams, but hasn't been a pro head coach. He replaced Rick Pitino at Boston University in 1983 and later spent five seasons coaching George Washington.
"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 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 said jokingly. "So Joe and I have a real chance."
The Pistons have been known as a defensive team under Dumars, dating back to his days on Chuck Daly's title-winning "Bad Boys" of 1989 and 1990. Kuester said that isn't going to change, despite his stint as Cleveland's offensive coordinator and the addition of two score-first players in Gordon and Villanueva.
"The past year was actually the first time I've ever been entirely focused on offense, and I still understand that defense is what wins championships," he said. "We're going to be a team that grinds it out for 48 minutes, and defense is going to be a huge part of that."
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.
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