- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From combined dispatches

The Detroit Pistons fired coach Michael Curry on Tuesday as the team started rebuilding from an unpopular trade, a sub-.500 record and an embarrassing first-round exit from the playoffs that ended its six-year streak of making the conference finals.

The Pistons went 39-43 and were swept in the postseason in four lopsided losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Joe Dumars, the team’s president for basketball operations, said after that series Curry would return but changed his mind about the fate of his former Pistons teammate.

“This was a difficult decision to make,” Dumars said. “I want to thank Michael for his hard work and dedication to the organization. However, at this time, I have decided to make a change.”

Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg said the timetable for naming a new coach was up in the air.

“Obviously with the free agency period starting [Wednesday], we don’t know quite the speed of it,” Grigg said.

Another ex-Pistons player and former Dumars teammate, Bill Laimbeer, stepped down in June as coach of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, saying he wanted a shot at coaching in the NBA. Laimbeer did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

JAZZ: Carlos Boozer has reconsidered free agency - or at least put it off a year.

Boozer let Utah know he will stay with the team for the final year of his contract rather than opting out and becoming a free agent - which he once said he intended to do.

He chose not to chance an iffy free agent market for more money and possibly a long-term deal, taking the $12.7 million he’s guaranteed next season from the Jazz.

ROCKETS: On the eve of the NBA Draft, general manager Daryl Morey said Houston was still determined to build around All-Star center Yao Ming.

“He’s the cornerstone of the team,” Morey said.

A few days later, the future of the team and the All-Star center from China have suddenly been thrown into question amid ominous reports from the team doctor that the hairline fracture in Yao’s left foot not only could keep him out all of next season but potentially end his career.

That would not only be devastating news for the Rockets but a crippling blow to the NBA, which would lose one of its most influential international ambassadors.

On Tuesday, the league was still holding out hope that Yao would play again.

SPURS: Veteran guard Michael Finley told San Antonio he plans to return for another season.

The 36-year-old Finley held the option on his contract for the 2009-10 season, which will be his fifth with the Spurs.

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