Sources: Pistons hire Dave Checketts
The news of Checketts' involvement coincides with former Knicks great Patrick Ewing's emergence late last week as a candidate for the Pistons' coaching vacancy.
Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars continues to serve as Detroit's lead basketball decision-maker, with Gores announcing when he officially took control of the franchise earlier this month that "we're going to lean on [Dumars] pretty heavily."
Yet sources said that Gores is also taking a level of input from Checketts, who headed up New York's management structure when the Knicks were built around Ewing. NBA.com reported Friday that the Pistons had expanded their coach search to include Ewing, who currently serves as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic.
It was not immediately known if the Pistons plan to add more candidates to their search, but Ewing has joined former NBA head coaches Mike Woodson and Lawrence Frank and current NBA assistants Kelvin Sampson (Milwaukee) and Bill Laimbeer (Minnesota) on Detroit's list of potential replacements for John Kuester.
Ewing, 48, has been angling for a head-coaching job for years and told the New York Daily News earlier this month that he is frustrated by the fact that he has been typecast as a tutor for big men thanks to his work in Houston and Orlando with Yao Ming and Dwight Howard.
"It's disappointing that I haven't moved to the next step to getting a head coaching job, but all I can do is keep working hard and keep on preparing myself for whenever that opportunity arises," Ewing told the newspaper. "A lot of people try to pigeonhole me into just a big man's coach and I'm not just a big man's coach. I'm a coach."
Checketts served as president and general manager with the Utah Jazz before his time with the Knicks, during which he ultimately rose to president and chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden.
Laimbeer, who battled Ewing for years as the Pistons' fixture in the middle in their "Bad Boys" era, interviewed for the Detroit job last Wednesday. His chances of landing the position were initially described as remote given that the Pistons, according to NBA coaching sources, were said to be seeking a replacement for Kuester with head coaching experience.
It remains to be seen if those aims have been revised after the addition of Ewing to the list of contenders. Heading into Thursday night's draft, Woodson was regarded as the closest thing to a favorite for the job in league coaching circles, given that he has already worked for the Pistons as an assistant under Larry Brown and would have been strongly considered by Detroit as a successor to Brown in the summer of 2005 had Woodson not decided to jump at the opportunity to coach the Atlanta Hawks in the summer of 2004.
Detroit's search began June 5 when Kuester's long-anticipated dismissal, after a 57-107 record in two turmoil-filled seasons, was finally announced once the Pistons' long-anticipated sale to California billionaire Gores was completed.
Woodson, Frank and Sampson interviewed for the vacancy before Laimbeer, who worked as an assistant coach in Minnesota last season and served as a head coach in the WNBA for seven seasons with the Detroit Shock, winning three championships.
The Pistons also had sought to interview Dwane Casey, but the Toronto Raptors' new coach turned down the opportunity to meet with Detroit as he closed in on the Toronto job.
Kuester and Woodson were assistants under Brown on the Pistons' championship team in 2004, but Woodson elected to take the Hawks' job before Brown's final season in Detroit and posted a record of 206-286 in six seasons in Atlanta, advancing to the second round of the playoffs twice.
Frank was 225-241 in parts of seven seasons coaching the Nets before joining Doc Rivers' staff in Boston this past season, replacing Tom Thibodeau, who was hired to coach the Chicago Bulls.
Sampson has never been a coach at the NBA level, but stints as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee have pushed him into contention after coaching college basketball at Indiana and Oklahoma.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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