Maurice Cheeks Accepts Head-Coaching Position with Detroit Pistons

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2013

Maurice Cheeks has agreed to become the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Pistons owner Tom Gores commented on the hire of the man who will replace Lawrence Frank, who held the position for two seasons.

Former Bad Boy Pistons member Isiah Thomas also took to Twitter to congratulate Cheeks.

Marc Stein of ESPN was the first to report the news of Detroit's new hire:

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.

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.

In the NBA, it's tough to win without that type of player. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs made the Finals because they have multiple stars capable of carrying the team through rough stretches.

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.