AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons chose not to look far for their next leader.

Former Pistons role player and assistant Michael Curry was introduced Tuesday as the team's new coach. The 39-year-old first-time head coach takes over for Flip Saunders, who was fired last week after leading Detroit to losses in the Eastern Conference finals the past three seasons.

Joe Dumars, a former Pistons star and the team's president of basketball operations, said he feels good about Curry's hiring in part because of their relationship. The two played together in the 1990s.

"Michael has been a proven leader throughout his NBA career as a player, administrator and assistant coach," Dumars said. "Given his strong knowledge of the game and tireless work ethic, we feel he is the right person to lead our team. Michael understands the culture of our franchise and its expectations."

The Pistons and Curry agreed on a three-year deal worth $2.5 million a season. The team holds an option for a fourth season.

Curry said Dave Cowens, who was a fellow assistant under Saunders, will be back next season. But with Curry being promoted and Terry Porter leaving to coach the Phoenix Suns, the new Pistons coach will be looking to fill some holes on his staff.

"We're going to be a staff that is going to be here from the summer until the end of the season and will be here for players to continue to develop and breaking down other teams in the league," Curry said. "We're going to be a hardworking staff from top to bottom."

Curry's playing career started as an undrafted free agent during the 1993-94 season in Philadelphia and ended during the 2004-05 season with the Indiana Pacers.

Near the end of his playing career, Curry headed up the NBA players' association, leading it from 2001-2003. He later served as the NBDL's vice president of player development and the NBA's vice president of basketball operations before spending last season as an assistant under Saunders.

Curry averaged 4 1/2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 20 minutes a game over his career, which included two stops in Detroit along with stints in Milwaukee, Toronto and Washington. His defense and leadership kept him in the league.

In addition to having played alongside Dumars, Curry shared the court with current Pistons Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince during the 2002-03 season, when the franchise started its streak of six consecutive appearances in the conference finals. He also played with Detroit center Rasheed Wallace in Washington.

Despite having close relationships with many of the current Pistons, Curry insisted being in charge of them will not be a problem.

"I've been in a position of leadership among all of them," he said. "Sometimes you have to tell guys things they don't want to hear."

Curry also played professionally in Germany, Belgium and France as well as the CBA and USBL after he was a standout at Georgia Southern.

Curry earned a masters degree from Virginia Commonwealth University while playing for the Pistons during the 2000-01 season.