Sources: Assistants in the hunt for Pistons job

The Vertical
Yahoo! Sports

With Avery Johnson no longer considered the inevitable choice, the candidacy of Cleveland Cavaliers assistant John Kuester has gained momentum in the Detroit Pistons coaching search, league sources said Friday.

Johnson, the ex-Dallas Mavericks coach, is still in consideration, but Kuester and Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau have graded out favorably in GM Joe Dumars' research, sources say.

Kuester has a history with the organization as a Larry Brown assistant. Dumars will meet with Johnson this weekend. Sources say that Dumars had a lengthy telephone conversation with Thibodeau on Friday and is expected to speak with him again.

Kuester has been on several NBA coaching staffs, including Cleveland, Detroit, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Thibodeau is considered one of the best tactical assistants in the NBA, especially on the defensive end. The Celtics are believed to pay him more than $1 million a season, high-end among NBA assistant coaches.

Once Doug Collins dropped out of consideration this week, Johnson was presumed to be the front-runner. Nevertheless, it is clear that Detroit is in no hurry to hammer through a deal with Johnson. There's no indication why his candidacy hasn't sped through in Detroit, although past employers and teammates haven't always spoken glowingly of him.

The Pistons are searching for a coach after firing Michael Curry on Monday. Dumars has remade the roster with the free-agent signings of Ben Gordon(notes) and Charlie Villanueva(notes). Detroit is still trying to retain its own free agent, Antonio McDyess(notes).

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