Is there any coach in the NBA with less job security than John Kuester? His two seasons in Detroit have been wildly disappointing, and while he can rightfully point to have inherited a flawed roster anchored by petulant veterans, he's the easiest to replace and thus the most likely to be scapegoated by a new owner looking to make a fresh start.
If Kuester is fired, who should replace him? Perhaps former Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who served with Kuester as an assistant under Larry Brown in 2003-04. Perry Farrell of the Detroit Free Press recently spoke with Woodson about his lone season in Detroit during the Pistons' title run:
"Before I came to Detroit, I worked for various coaches," Woodson said. "All of them were good for me, dating back to Chris Ford, who gave me my first opportunity to coach. Then George Karl and Randy Wittman, and all those guys were wonderful coaches. But when I got with Larry Brown it just ... My attitude really changed about my approach to coaching because he was so organized, not that the other coaches weren't. Larry was just a little different. He delegated and gave us responsibilities. He treated you like you were a head coach.
"You normally have some type of conflict down the road. We had nothing. That team was so close-knit. It was meant to be."
This isn't the first time Woodson has been mentioned, and I suspect it won't be the last. He was canned in Atlanta following a series of playoff disappointments, but before that he was lauded for his slow-but-steady success in turning the Hawks into a contender. After winning just 13 games in 2004-05, the Hawks proceeded to win 26, 30, 37, 47 and 53 games over the next five seasons. (Incidentally, the Hawks slipped to 44 wins in their first season under Larry Drew.)
If nothing else, Woodson comes with a track record of taking a team from the lottery to the playoffs. (Granted, signing Joe Johnson in 2005 kickstarted the development, but the Hawks didn't do Woodson any favors by taking Marvin Williams second overall over Deron Williams and Chris Paul that same year.) As for developing young players, Josh Smith, Josh Childress and Al Horford came into their own under Woodson's watch. And at least from afar, he seemed to do a decent job handling his veterans, especially transforming Jamal Crawford from a gunner without a conscience to an efficient sixth-man.
If Kuester is canned, I'm not quite ready to give a full-fledged endorsement for Woodson, but of the candidates Detroit would likely be looking at, you could certainly do a lot worse. Woodson said he's already interviewed for the vacant Rockets' job, so here's to hoping Tom Gores/Joe Dumars make a final decision on Kuester's fate soon.
What say you? Who do you want to coach the Pistons next year?