OFFICIAL: The #Pistons have named Maurice Cheeks as head coach— Detroit Pistons (@detroitpistons) June 10, 2013
Pistons owner Tom Gores commented on the hire of the man who will replace Lawrence Frank, who held the position for two seasons.
“We are very excited to have someone of his experience and talent help take this franchise into the future.” - #Pistons owner Tom Gores— Detroit Pistons (@detroitpistons) June 10, 2013
Former Bad Boy Pistons member Isiah Thomas also took to Twitter to congratulate Cheeks.
Congratulations Maurice Cheeks @detroitpistons always good to see a fellow Chicagoan do well.— Isiah Thomas (@iamisiahthomas) June 10, 2013
Marc Stein of ESPN was the first to report the news of Detroit's new hire:
ESPN sources: Mo Cheeks has today agreed to take Detroit Pistons' job. Story posting online at ESPN as we speak— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 10, 2013
Cheeks was previously the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers (2001-05) and the Philadelphia 76ers (2005-08). He went 284-286 (.498) during those two stints, reaching the playoffs three times but never advancing beyond the first round.
What's your opinion of the hire?
The longtime NBA point guard has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Over that time, Russell Westbrook developed into one of the league's most dangerous guards, and the Pistons hope Cheeks can provide a similar boost to their backcourt.
Cheeks' task in Detroit is simple: End the team's playoff drought, which has now reached four seasons. Before that recent cold spell, the Pistons had qualified for the postseason eight straight times and won a championship in 2004.
It's easier said than done, of course. The 56-year-old coach inherits a roster that missed the playoffs by nine games in the weaker conference this season.
The biggest problem for the Pistons is the lack of star power. Greg Monroe continues to make progress in the post and Brandon Knight, who should benefit from Cheeks' guidance, has demonstrated some potential as well.
Detroit doesn't have a go-to player, however. The Pistons lack somebody that can be counted on to put up around 20 points a night and come up big in the clutch.
The Pistons don't have one. Perhaps Monroe or Knight can grow into that role with a couple more seasons of experience. More likely, however, they will need to acquire a big name in free agency or find a talented prospect in the draft.
They hold the eighth overall pick this offseason. It's not the deepest of classes, but one of Cheeks' first major projects with the team is working with the front office to find a player who can become that top-tier contributor moving forward.
All told, Cheeks—and his lackluster coaching record—isn't the type of hire that's likely to reignite the Detroit fanbase. But he did have some early success in Portland and, as a four-time All-Star, he knows what it takes to succeed in the NBA.
The Pistons hope that translates to success and that Cheeks can get the franchise back on track.