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Pistons contact Woodson, cleared to speak with Sampson, Frank and Laimbeer

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It begins. From Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski:

Detroit Pistons president Joe Dumars has received permission to interview Milwaukee Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, one of the top targets for the Pistons’ head coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Dumars called Milwaukee general manager John Hammond on Thursday for the chance to speak with Sampson, and a meeting is expected to be set up shortly, sources said.

Dumars also received permission to speak with Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank and Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Bill Laimbeer on Thursday. Also, Detroit made contact with former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson.

Sampson, Woodson and Frank are the early frontrunners for the job, sources said.

Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News is reporting the same thing. Not surprisingly, Isiah Thomas is nowhere on either reporter's list -- looks like all that Zeke talk might have been a "professional courtesy" after all.

I'm curious just how many candidates Dumars will interview before making a decision -- and more specifically, if this group of names are the only candidates being seriously considered. As much as I'd like to see Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer develop into Gregg Popovich 2.0 for the Pistons, I'm surprised someone like Mavs assistant Dwane Casey hasn't been mentioned more prominently.

Of course, the Toronto Raptors have reportedly narrowed their coaching search to Frank and Casey, so if Dumars likes either of those two, he'll probably need to act fast.