Among Mike Brown’s first tasks as new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers is to assemble his assistant-coaching staff, and reports say he could find an ally in Detroit Pistons head coach John Kuester. Broderick Turner began the speculation Friday, when he reported Brown “is interested in” hiring Kuester, who served under him for two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Days later, ESPN.com reporter Ric Bucher filed a story saying the Pistons will fire Kuester, though word Monday, via the Detroit Free Press, is that Kuester is still the Pistons’ coach. SB Nation Detroit has more on that angle in this Kuester-centric StoryStream.
Under Brown, Kuester served as an “offensive coordinator” of sorts, handling some aspects of offensive preparation while Brown focused on the defense. In his second and final season with Kuester in this capacity, the Cavaliers boasted the league’s fourth-best offense, averaging 112.4 points per 100 possessions. The Pistons hired him away that summer, and he’s yet to duplicate those results as a head coach without a player nearly of LeBron James’ caliber leading the way on the court. His coaching record stands at 57-107 (.348) and his teams have never finished better than fourth in the Central Division. Worse, he has clashed openly and repeatedly with his players. Based on the overwhelming evidence, Sean Yuille says it’s “likely” the Pistons will fire Kuester upon the completion of their sale to Tom Gores.
Prior to joining Brown in Cleveland, Kuester served as an assistant under Larry Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers and later with the Pistons. Upon leaving Detroit as an assistant after the 2003/04 season, Kuester led a nomadic assitant-coaching life, moving from the New Jersey Nets to the Sixers again to the Orlando Magic.
With all that said, Silver Screen and Roll is optimistic Kuester can still succeed as an assistant coach: “Kuester might be one of those guys who doesn’t have the chops for a head job but can still work magic as a coordinator,” writes Dexter Fishmore, who helpfully points us in the direction of this NBA Playbook post about how Brown—and Kuester, should he join him in L.A.—might use Kobe Bryant, based on how he/they deployed LeBron in Cleveland.