AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Patience paid off for Flip Saunders.

After being fired in February by Minnesota, Saunders took some time to assess different job possibilities. When the Detroit Pistons finalized a $7 million severance package with Larry Brown earlier this week, Saunders knew he’d found the opportunity he’d been waiting for.

“I was really fortunate in the past five months to wait and evaluate situations,” Saunders said being introduced as Detroit’s new coach Thursday. “I was going to wait and get into the right situation to walk into and have an opportunity to win and to win big, and that’s what we have here.”

Less than 24 hours after Brown’s departure, Saunders and the Pistons agreed to a four-year, $20 million contract with incentives that could add more than $6 million. But with his new opportunity comes high expectations. Saunders is replacing a Hall of Famer and taking over a team that has made two straight appearances in the NBA Finals.

“I’ve been in situations where I’ve taken bad teams and moved them in the right direction. In those situations, there is no pressure,” Saunders said.

“Would it have been easy for me to take another job and not have as much (pressure)? Pressure is what you put on yourself. I don’t really feel any pressure walking into a situation.”

Saunders compiled a record of 411-326 in 91/2 seasons with Minnesota and helped turn one of the NBA’s most lackluster franchises into a contender.

He led the Timberwolves to eight straight postseason appearances – and seven first-round exits before a breakthrough to the Western Conference finals two years ago.

Last season, the Timberwolves struggled over the first three months of the season under Saunders and ended up missing the playoffs under interim coach Kevin McHale.

Knicks and Brown on fast track

NEW YORK – Speeding up his courtship of Larry Brown, New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas met Thursday night with the 64-year-old unemployed coach.

The meeting began in the evening near Brown’s summer home in East Hampton, N.Y., and a Knicks spokesman said the only two participants were Thomas and Brown.

It was unclear whether the Knicks already were prepared to offer a contract to Brown, who reached a severance agreement with the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.

Thomas has made no secret of his desire to hire Brown, who would be coaching his eighth different NBA team if he accepts the job.

Brown has expressed reservations in recent days about possibly nudging New York interim coach Herb Williams out of a job.

, and one of the challenges for Thomas will be to address Brown’s concerns on that matter.

A message seeking comment was left Thursday for Brown. The Knicks said they would make no further public statements until Friday.


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