Pistons tab Flip Saunders head coach
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Flip Saunders was named the new head
coach of the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.
Terms of the deal were not released during the team’s news conference on
Thursday afternoon, but the Detroit News reports the two sides agreed to a
four-year contract worth between $4 million and $5 million per season.
Saunders replaces Larry Brown, who was relieved of his duties by the club on
“If I look rested it’s because I got some sleep last night,” said Pistons
general manager Joe Dumars, who reportedly worked long hours the last week
finalizing the departure of Brown and signing Saunders.
“(Saunders) is one of the better coaches in this league,” added Dumars. “That
is what we were looking for, an excellent coach. From the day he walks in (the
players) are going to respect him. We are very comfortable handing the keys of
this team over to him.”
Saunders, who for some time was considered the top choice to replace Brown,
was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves in February after 9 1/2 years of
service. Saunders went 411-326 with the T-Wolves, but besides his club’s
success during the regular season, his teams got past the first round of the
playoffs only once.
“I look at this as a great opportunity and a great challenge,” said Saunders,
who interviewed with a number of organizations this off-season for vacant head
coaching positions. “I look at the Pistons as one of the premier teams in the
“I had the opportunity the last couple of months to wait and evaluate
situations,” he added. “I had the chance to wait for the position that was
right for me. I was prepared for not coaching this year. When the position
became available here, my agent got on the horn and was trying to work out a
deal for the last 24 to 36 hours.”
Known as a players’ coach and one that stresses defense, Saunders helped guide
the Timberwolves to a franchise-best and league-best 58-24 mark in 2003-04.
Minnesota advanced all the way to the Conference Finals before losing to the
Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
However, last year was a different story for a club with high expectations
coming into the season. The Timberwolves got off to a disappointing 25-26
start to the campaign, prompting the firing of Saunders.
The T-Wolves finished the season with a 44-38 mark and missed the playoffs.
In two seasons with the Pistons, Brown guided Detroit to the NBA Championship
in 2004 and lost the Finals in seven games to San Antonio this past season.
The 64-year-old Brown signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the
Pistons two seasons ago. However, Brown was left free to coach another team in
the NBA after the Pistons reached a settlement on the last three years of
his contract on Tuesday.