Former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson and successful college coach Kelvin Sampson are the early top contenders for the newly open Detroit Pistons head coach position, vacant after the team fired John Kuester on Sunday, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Woodson has previously worked with Joe Dumars in Detroit, as a longtime assistant coach under Larry Brown; Woodson was on the staff that claimed the 2004 NBA Championship. He coached the Hawks for six seasons, taking the team from the high lottery to, eventually, a No. 3 seed in playoffs in 2010. But Atlanta was smoked by the Orlando Magic in four inglorious games in the second round in '10, and Atlanta elected to replace Woodson with his top assistant Larry Drew. In 2011, the Hawks had a less successful regular season, but beat the Magic in the playoffs and challenged the Chicago Bulls in the second round.
Sampson has served as an assistant under Scott Skiles with the Milwaukee Bucks for two seasons. Previous to that, he excelled as a college coach at Oklahoma and Indiana. His NCAA career disappeared under serious allegations of recruiting violations at Indiana in 2008; he was handed a five-year show cause order that prevents any NCAA team from hiring him until 2013. The Hoosiers were placed on three years of probation, and Sampson was jettisonned mid-season. He almost immediately moved to the NBA, where he became a consultant for the Spurs before being hired by Skiles.