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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pistons give Kuester shot

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) 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.

News photo
Challenging task: John Kuester speaks to the media at a news conference on Thursday where he was introduced as the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons. AP PHOTO

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," said Kuester with a laugh.

Kuester replaces Michael Curry, who was fired on June 30 after going 39-43 in his first season and being 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. They added Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in the first hours of free agency.

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.

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.

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."

Turkoglu signs

TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Raptors got their top offseason target — thanks to some help from Chris Bosh — finalizing the acquisition of Hedo Turkoglu on Thursday.

The 208-cm forward with a great shooting touch hit the market when the Orlando Magic acquired Vince Carter from New Jersey.

Turkoglu opted out of his contract and was close to a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers last Friday before Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo swooped in.

Turkoglu will get a five-year deal reportedly worth about $53 million.

Suns add Kawamura

PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns added guard Takuya Kawamura to their roster on Thursday for the Las Vegas summer league.

The 1.93-cm Kawamura averaged 20.4 points for Link Tochigi Brex in the JBL last season. In April, he decided not to play for Japan and instead pursued a spot in the NBA.

The Suns entry, coached by Phoenix assistant Dan Majerle, opens its six-game schedule on Monday against Dallas.

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