NBA: More Coaching Pressure on Mo Cheeks or Jason Kidd?
For the last few months, the NBA has been a circus for head coaches around the league. Coach of the Year George Karl parted ways with the Denver Nuggets despite the honors. Former Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is searching for employment even after leading his team to a franchise best 56-26 record and it's first division title. Lionel Hollins has faced the same fate despite coaching the Memphis Grizzlies to a franchise record of 56-26 and a deep postseason run.
There are some new beginnings ready to take shape in the league as well.
With that said, the Detroit Pistons hope to usher in a new era with the announcement of their new head coach.
As of this past Monday, the front office finally made a decision on the 29th coach in team history.
Say hello to Maurice Cheeks.
Detroit has been on the hunt for a new coach since firing Lawrence Frank in April. General manager Joe Dumars sounds excited about his new hire, and has high hopes in terms of developing their young talent and building team chemistry.
However, the most notable NBA coaching hire thus far came has come from the Brooklyn Nets.
After choosing not to retain former coach P.J. Carlesimo, the Nets showed interest in Karl, Hollins and Jeff Van Gundy. Another popular target was former point guard Jason Kidd.
Instead of playing it safe with experience and a coaching background, the Nets threw a major curve ball and took a gamble on Kidd, reaching a three year deal with the rookie coach.
Brooklyn has stunned many in deciding against the decorated options available. Meanwhile, the Pistons' hopes of landing a top-tier coach was highly unlikely, as Karl and Hollins were unlikely to show interest.
They didn't fail in signing Cheeks, but his track record doesn't scream instant success. With a young, unproven roster that has struggled through recent seasons, the Pistons were forced to gamble with a veteran coach with a less than average track record.
On the other hand, Kidd enjoyed a decorated career in the NBA as a player, but has no coaching experience. He's now acquiring a roster of highly-paid veterans recently bounced from the playoffs.
With their debuts around the corner, is the pressure of success heavier for Mo Cheeks or Jason Kidd?
Team owner Tom Gores expressed his disappointment in last season's struggles after the Pistons finished the 2012-13 season 29-53 with no postseason appearance and a blunder of a roster. The budding duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are promising building blocks, but players like Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler need more development with their game.
After firing Lawrence Frank and Joe Dumars on a burning hot seat, the Pistons need to show some signs of progress. Detroit's window could close in the next couple of years if they strike out with Knight as a draft pick and Cheeks as a head coach.
What some fail to realize is that Detroit's problems stem from a weak roster, not a weak coaching staff. Frank wasn't the worst coach, but he couldn't work magic with the bottom shelf talent assembled by Dumars. Detroit will be in the hunt for some key free agents this offseason and could benefit from picking up a game-changer in the draft.
With this turnaround however, the Pistons are sitting with a No. 8 lottery pick this summer and about $30 million to spend. More so than marketability and a coach, the team needs depth and players. If the front office can assemble a quality lineup for Mo Cheeks, the transition to success should move smoothly.
Unfortunately, the pressure is mounting on Detroit to perform. The Pistons can't afford many more mistakes and need their draft picks and acquisitions to start paying off soon. If the young talent is ever going to be properly developed and begin to take shape, now is the time.
Dumars credited Cheeks on his ability to develop young talent, and the new Pistons' coach has already made an impression on some of those players. Given his championship pedigree and experience, Cheeks has plenty to offer. After 15 years as a point guard, which saw him make four All-Star teams and win the 1983 NBA Championship as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Cheeks has plenty of credibility as a player.
Unfortunately, his lustrous playing career hasn't translated into success as a coach, as Cheeks has a record of 284-286. He lead the Philadelphia 76ers to two playoff berths during his tenure, and will be under pressure to revive the Pistons' postseason success.
On the other side, Jason Kidd is working with a boat load of experienced talent. The biggest issue for the Brookyn Nets is depth and their ability to play together. There isn't much rebuilding or restructuring that will be necessary for the Nets, but can this player-turned-coach keep the egos of Brooklyn in tact?.
The Nets are coming off of a classic seven-game series against the Chicago Bulls.The back and forth matchup resulted in the defeat of Brooklyn, but they're still not far from their championship goal. In a weak Eastern Conference, the Nets should maintain their recent success under Kidd.
It will be interesting to see how Kidd meshes with his franchise point guard Deron Williams. Williams clashed often with former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, and the resignation of Sloan resulted after a major clash with his point guard. Will a mutual respect and relationship form between Kidd and Williams?
The honeymoon is off to a good start after Williams co-signed his new coach calling him a "risk we can grow with." Kidd being the Hall of Fame-worthy guard he was, should have plenty of influence on the game of Brooklyn's floor general.
This being Kidd's first year as a coach, the Nets' can afford to give their gamble some time to pay off, as long as next year's campaign doesn't result in a step back from last season. This relatively new franchise's progression will come at a different rate than Detroit's.
Meanwhile, the Pistons need immediate results from Mo Cheeks. Both coaches have plenty to prove, but Cheeks is on his third run as an NBA head coach. Now is the time to establish himself as a credible coach. If not, the Pistons will be hitting the reset button yet again.
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