Brandon Jennings Blasts Pistons for Firing Maurice Cheeks, Says Team Is Slipping

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIMarch 3, 2014

Nov 15, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Detroit Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks and point guard Brandon Jennings (7) chat during a free throw in the fourth quarter of the game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. The Detroit Pistons defeated the Sacramento Kings 97-90 Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

With a loss against the Houston Rockets on March 1, the Detroit Pistons have fallen to 2-7 since head coach Maurice Cheeks was fired on Feb. 9, which has prompted point guard Brandon Jennings to speak out against the decision by management.

“You give a coach a half a season with new faces and new chemistry — that’s not enough time, I don’t think,” Jennings said after a Thursday practice, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. “I felt like he was placed in a losing situation."

The Pistons experienced a variety of changes during the 2013 offseason, the biggest of which were the acquisitions of Jennings, forward Josh Smith and Cheeks. The new head coach lasted just 50 games on the sidelines before getting fired, and Jennings found out about his firing via Twitter:

Leading up to Cheeks' firing, Detroit notched a 4-2 record after a four-game losing streak. Per Ellis, Jennings noted the team's brief turnaround in the days leading up to the coaching casualty.

"We were winning, and now we're playing like the old Pistons in the beginning," the 24-year-old floor general said. He added that he has no issues with interim coach John Loyer but said, "It's more of a personal problem for me with Mo leaving."

Bleacher Report's Ethan Norof mocked the Pistons' decision to fire Cheeks so soon after hiring him:

Ellis, however, played devil's advocate for the front office, writing, "In fairness to the decision, team effort appeared to be a frequent problem under Cheeks. And the talented roster has underachieved all season."

Jennings is averaging a career-high 7.9 assists per game, but he's shooting just 37.4 percent from the field—the lowest mark since his rookie year. The Pistons have struggled to develop any sense of team chemistry throughout the season, which has them sitting 3.5 games back of the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference standings.

“We keep slipping out of the playoff race,” Jennings said, per Ellis. “You get a little worried. We only got 20-something games left. Time is ticking, man."

With 23 games remaining, Detroit will play 12 teams that are currently in the playoff picture, including the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers (twice).

There's certainly an opening, though, as the Hawks have lost three straight and are 1-9 in their past 10 contests.

The Pistons have the talent necessary to win games, but the decision to fire Cheeks isn't sitting right with Jennings. That may ultimately hinder team chemistry to the point of no return.