BOSTON (AP) -The Milwaukee Bucks have hired Detroit Pistons vice president John Hammond as their new general manager.
``He is a proven NBA talent who has played an essential role in a winning NBA organization,'' Bucks owner Herb Kohl said in a release distributed during the third quarter of Friday night's game in Boston. ``We look forward to John's contributions to our franchise.''
The move had been expected, with opposing coach Doc Rivers of the Celtics letting it slip before the game. Told that the Bucks hadn't even made it official yet, Rivers said, ``It's official. So, let's make it official.''
Detroit won at least 50 games in all seven seasons Hammond was by the side of GM Joe Dumars, with six division titles, five straight appearances in the Eastern Conference finals and an NBA title in 2004.
``I had the pleasure of working under one of the best executives in the game today in Joe Dumars, and I thank him for the opportunity he gave me to be a part of Detroit's winning tradition,'' Hammond said. ``The Bucks are a history-rich franchise with amazing fans and I look forward to the challenge of bringing a championship back to Milwaukee.''
Hammond had turned down similar opportunities in Toronto and Portland.
``The time is just right now and maybe it wasn't earlier,'' Hammond told The Associated Press shortly after the team made its announcement. ``There are particular things about the job in Milwaukee that are very appealing to me. The potential is there to win. I feel a little bit more comfortable after seven years here in Detroit.''
After working together, Dumars and Hammond will be competing against each other in the Central Division.
``John will do a great job for the Milwaukee Bucks,'' Dumars told the AP. ``Milwaukee is getting a great basketball man and a great person as well.''
Hammond is the second key member of Dumars' staff in 10 months to get lured away by another team. The Seattle SuperSonics hired Scott Perry to be their assistant general manager after he worked in Detroit as the team's director of player personnel.
Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said before Friday night's game that he hadn't heard the news, but that it wouldn't be a surprise to him.
``I was anticipating that something was going to happen pretty soon, but I hadn't heard any news at this point,'' he said. ``Just trying to get a win.''
Asked about reports that Hammond would be looking to bring in a veteran coach, Krystkowiak said, ``Until I hear those words from his mouth ... at that point, if that were true, I'd be disappointed.''
The 53-year-old Hammond spent 10 years as a college coach and worked as an assistant in the NBA with the Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and Pistons.
``He's a great guy, he really knows the game,'' Rivers said. ``He coached the game and been upstairs - that's a great combination because he'll have feelings for coaches.''
The Bucks were 26-52 heading into Friday night's game in Boston, clinching the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. They let Larry Harris leave after he asked if his contract would be renewed at the end of the season.
Player personnel director Dave Babcock had been handling the day-to-day operations and draft preparation during the search for a replacement. The team's owner, Sen. Herb Kohl, said Babcock was not a candidate for the permanent job because he wanted someone who would take a fresh look.
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AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.

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