DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The Detroit Pistons have confirmed the firing of coach Maurice Cheeks.
The Pistons are 21-29 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, during Cheeks’ first 50 games.
“This was a difficult decision for the organization to make but we needed to make a change,” said President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars. “We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work.”
“Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress. The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around. I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach,” notes the Pistons website.
WWJ spoke with 97.1 The Ticket’s Terry Foster about the firing, which Foster said, while the move may have been premature, it was a good move by the Pistons because Cheeks did not click with the players.
“Despite a two-game winning streak, when I talked to players last night
asking if they thought things had turned around, they kind of said, ‘No, this a small sample … which tells me they don’t think things have turned around and I think some of the problems we saw him bickering with players, in-decisions, lack of identity for a team would have remained with the Pistons,” said Foster.
“Just because you win games doesn’t mean the problems go away,” said 97.1 The Ticket’s Terry Foster. “They were masked a little bit but they were going to creep up anyway. So I just think that Tom Gores, who it is my understanding made this decision, was just fed up with this and just wanted to go in another direction.”
“Fans seem to want Rasheed Wallace right now, who played for the Pistons, and they may go that route. But the one name I’d be interested in going after is Bill Laimbeer, maybe not this season, but eventually hiring him.”
Cheeks previously led Portland and Philadelphia, a team he helped win an NBA title with as a point guard.
The Pistons gave him his third shot to be an NBA head coach in June, but didn’t let him finish one season with the disappointing team that made moves to make a push to earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 – which was Michael Curry’s only season as their coach.
Since then, Detroit has gone through two seasons under John Kuester and two under Lawrence Frank. After neither of those coaches could make any real progress, Cheeks was brought in and the Pistons acted boldly last offseason.
Detroit signed forward Josh Smith and traded for point guard Brandon Jennings, trying to bolster a roster that already included young big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
But the mix has been uninspiring for the most part. The Pistons have had problems defensively and have struggled to close out games in the fourth quarter.
The poor attendance that’s become commonplace at The Palace hasn’t changed – and Detroit’s 11-15 home record hasn’t helped.
Cheeks was Detroit’s ninth coach since the 1999-2000 season.
The Pistons have won four of six, including back-to-back blowouts at home against Brooklyn and Denver on Friday and Saturday. They host San Antonio on Monday night.
Owner Tom Gores was in attendance at a recent game and said he thought the team was better than its record.
“I’m not satisfied. Our job is to make sure that our players are at their maximum,” Gores said after that Feb. 1 game against Philadelphia. “I’m not satisfied with the job I’m doing. I’m not satisfied with the job anyone is doing.”
WWJ has been told that there is nothing official on the search for the next head coach. Stay tuned!
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