By LARRY LAGE/AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) – The Pistons have hired former 76ers and Trail Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks to take over in Detroit, The Associated Press has learned.
The move was made Monday, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the hired had not yet been announced by the team.
The Pistons fired Lawrence Frank in April, a day after they finished 29-53. Frank was 54-94 in two seasons with the Pistons.
Cheeks was 284-286 in the regular season and 5-11 in the playoffs as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers.
He was fired by Philadelphia during the 2008-09 season with a 9-14 record. Cheeks spent the past four seasons as an Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach. The Chicago native played 15 seasons in the NBA, helping the Sixers win a championship in 1983.
This is Detroit’s ninth coach since 1999 and fourth in the past six seasons. Although the Pistons won a championship in 2004, their decline has been sharp in recent years. Attendance has been poor, and the drawn-out process of identifying the new coach drew little buzz around the city.
Detroit remained in title contention in the years immediately following its 2004 championship, but the Pistons haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. After Flip Saunders was fired in 2008, Michael Curry lasted only one season as coach and John Kuester made it through two, as did Frank.
Owner Tom Gores has stressed the importance of this offseason. The Pistons finally have some roster flexibility, and they have some young talent in Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, but they can’t afford to waste another opportunity to improve.
Detroit has the eighth pick in the upcoming draft, and the Pistons have a decent amount of space under the salary cap after trading Ben Gordon last offseason and Tayshaun Prince during the season.
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