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Kuester to be Pistons' new coach

THE Detroit Pistons are close to appointing John Kuester as their new coach, a person familiar with the negotiations said on Tuesday.

Kuester spent the past two seasons as a Cleveland Cavaliers assistant and was on Larry Brown's championship-winning staff in 2004 with the Pistons.

He was also a National Basketball Association assistant in Orlando, Philadelphia - under Brown - New Jersey and Boston. He was a head coach at George Washington University from 1985-90.

The Pistons spoke with Avery Johnson about replacing Michael Curry, but talks with the former Dallas Mavericks coach ended on Tuesday.

Detroit also was considering bringing back Doug Collins, a former Pistons coach, but he withdrew his name from consideration last week shortly after Curry was fired.

The Pistons are revamping their team from a veteran-laden one to a franchise counting on players in their mid-20s.

Detroit is expected to sign free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to five-year contracts today, replacing Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace.

Gordon is 26 and Villanueva turns 25 next month, potentially entering the prime of their careers, after Billups and Wallace were at their best when Detroit won the NBA title five years ago.

Kuester is Detroit's fifth coach in nine seasons - following Curry, Flip Saunders, Brown and Rick Carlisle.

The 54-year-old played for the Kansas City Kings, Denver and Indiana during his three-season NBA career.


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