Avery Johnson favored but not a shoe-in

From Chris McCosky:

Joe Dumars very pointedly told me Friday morning that it was not a given that Johnson was going to be the next coach here, and that he was expanding the search. Apparently the search was expanded to include Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau.

Now, that never meant that Johnson was off the list. But if Johnson was under the impression he was the only candidate for the job, he would have all the leverage when it came to negotiating a contract. Given this tough economic environment -- and given that the Pistons paid two head coaches last season (Flip Saunders and Michael Curry) and owe Curry $5 million over the next two years -- they have to be a little cost-conscious here.

A. Sherrod Blakely suggests one stumbling block is the length of the contract, and why not? Detroit's next head coach will be the sixth in nine years. Blakely suggests Johnson will hold out for something similar to the four-year, $18 million contract the Wizards gave Flip Saunders.

Cleveland assistant John Kuester is reportedly being considered, as well, but if the Pistons really do hire a guy with zero NBA head coaching experience, I'd imagine Thibodeau, a guy credited as being the architect of Boston's phenomenal defense, deserves the edge. But that's just my gut (it's easier to re-build with a defensive foundation, no?); I have no sources on this.

In any case, all of this may be moot within a matter of days -- Dumars, who previously indicated he hopes to have a coach in place by this coming Tuesday, was expected to travel to Houston today to interview Johnson.

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