At 21-29 and going through the motions of another mediocre NBA season, it's clear the Detroit Pistons needed to make a change.
That change comes in the form of first-year head coach Maurice Cheeks getting the axe on Sunday afternoon.
The Pistons confirmed the move in a statement on the team website:
“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.”
David Aldridge of NBA.com reports who will coach the Pistons for the foreseeable future:
Pistons' assistant coach John Loyer will take over as head coach for now, per league source. Loyer was Cheeks' assistant in PHI, POR.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 9, 2014
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports had more on Loyer:
Detroit plans to let John Loyer coach the rest of season, league sources tells Yahoo Sports. Pistons won't be conducting a search now.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 9, 2014
Wojnarowski first reported the news of Cheeks' firing on Twitter:
The Detroit Pistons have fired coach Mo Cheeks, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 9, 2014
The firing was surprising because Cheeks has coached in just 50 games for the Pistons and didn't make it to the All-Star break of his only season with the team. The team is just a half game out of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
But this isn't the first time owner Tom Gores has fired a coach, as he's quickly becoming known for having a quick trigger with his staff:
Since becoming GM of the @DetroitPistons in 2000 Joe Dumars has now fired 8 different coaches.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 9, 2014
The Pistons were winners of their last two games and are 3-2 in the month of February, but the decision wasn't just due to recent results.
Despite Gores' attempts to change the team, Cheeks was unable to get the results he wanted, according to Wojnarowski:
Owner Tom Gores had become increasingly impatient with Cheeks and young Pistons team, league sources told Yahoo. He had pushed for change.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 9, 2014
Brandon Jennings, who left the Milwaukee Bucks to sign with Detroit in the offseason, was left somewhat speechless on Twitter before later expressing his gratitude for what Cheeks taught him:
Wait what— BRANDON JENNINGS (@BrandonJennings) February 9, 2014
I will like to thank Mo Cheeks for everything, thank you for helping me become a better person & player. I'm still learning— BRANDON JENNINGS (@BrandonJennings) February 9, 2014
Should Cheeks have been fired?
The Pistons have a young core with Jennings and Andre Drummond along with veteran players like Josh Smith, which will make for an enticing job for any head coach interested in the position.
The only issue now for Gores will be trying to convince a coach that he has job stability with the organization. It'll be tough to give a coach assurance that uprooting his family for the position will pay off.
It will be interesting to see where the Pistons go from here as they begin their search for a new head coach. Any further updates on Cheeks' status will be added to this story.
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