Thursday, June 23, 2011
Sources: Pistons, Bill Laimbeer talk
By Marc Stein
Former Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer interviewed for the Pistons' coaching vacancy Wednesday, according to NBA coaching sources.
Laimbeer is the fourth known candidate to be interviewed, but his chances of landing the job appear to be remote given that the Pistons, according to sources, are determined to hire a former NBA head coach to replace the fired John Kuester.
If that holds, former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson and ex-New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank are ahead of Laimbeer in Detroit's pecking order, with sources maintaining that Woodson -- who was an assistant under Larry Brown in Detroit -- began the search process as the favorite.
The Pistons, though, also like Milwaukee Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, despite Sampson's head coaching experience is restricted to the college ranks.
A decision on Kuester's replacement is expected soon after Thursday's NBA draft. Detroit's search began June 5, when Kuester, with a 57-107 record in two turmoil-filled seasons, was finally dismissed once the Pistons' long-anticipated sale to California billionaire Tom Gores was completed.
Woodson, Frank and Sampson all interviewed for the vacancy before Laimbeer, who worked as an assistant coach in Minnesota last season under Kurt Rambis, who reportedly will be dismissed after the draft is held. Laimbeer 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 in summer 2004 instead of waiting for the opportunity to potentially succeed Brown in Detroit.
Woodson was 206-286 in six seasons in Atlanta, advancing to 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.