Posted February 09, 2014

Pistons fire head coach Maurice Cheeks, appoint John Loyer as interim

Detroit Pistons, Maurice Cheeks
Maurice Cheeks

The Pistons have fired Maurice Cheeks just 50 games into his tenure. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Detroit Pistons have fired head coach Maurice Cheeks just 50 games into his first season as the team’s head coach. The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Cheeks was hired by Detroit just this past offseason, but was shown the door after a disappointing 21-29. The Pistons currently sit a half-game out of the playoffs and have struggled this season despite the offseason acquisitions of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.

“This was a difficult decision for the organization to make but we needed to make a change,” said President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars in a statement. “We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work.”

Detroit assistant John Loyer will step in as interim coach, MLive.com reports. Loyer has not previously held a head coaching position, but has served as an assistant coach for the Blazers, Sixers, and Nets since 2000. He joined the Pistons in 2011.

According to SI.com’s Chris Mannix, the decision to fire Cheeks wasn’t Dumars’ decision.

Strangely, Cheeks’ dismissal comes after the Pistons notched back-to-back wins over the weekend against the Nets and Nuggets, yet the recent turn  for the better wasn’t enough to convince the Pistons to keep Cheeks aboard.

“Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores in the team’s release. “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.”

Detroit’s most glaring issue this season has been its defense, which ranks No. 19 in defensive efficiency, according to nba.com/stats, despite the mammoth frontcourt of Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. The team’s offense also ranks below league average and features a starting backcourt of guards shooting below 40 percent.

But to Cheeks’ credit, the Pistons had been playing better of late, winning four of their last six and posting the fourth-best net rating in the league (7.5) since Jan. 28. Detroit also boasts the youngest starting lineup in the league and has a better record than the Pistons did at this time last season (18-32).

Detroit’s firing of Cheeks appeared to surprise several Pistons players, who voiced their shock on Twitter:

Cheeks was the eighth head coach to serve under Joe Dumars during his tenure as Pistons GM and fifth since 2008. The ninth reportedly could be former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who Sam Amick of USA Today reports has interest in the job.

The Pistons were Cheeks’ third crack at an NBA head coach position, but it ended the same way his first two did: a midseason dismissal. Cheeks spent three-plus years with the Blazers from 2001 to 2005 and three-plus with the Sixers from 2005 to 2009. Cheeks now owns a career coaching record of 305-315 (.491).

Cheeks, 57, was a four-time All-Star as a player and a member of the title-winning 1983 Sixers. A four-time All-Defensive First Team selection, Cheeks retired after 15 seasons with the Sixers, Spurs, Knicks, Hawks and Nets with career averages of 11.1 points, 6.7 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.

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16 comments
BrandenChilds
BrandenChilds

Smh jenning averaging top 5 n assist you guys need to relax both are top ten in there position..im going to be a true fan and watch my team prove the haters wrong shoutouts to smith n jennings keep putn in the work yal doing great n Dre Drummond keep ballin we at home watchn bro STM bros 4life..yal worrying about shooting averages wennour whole five cannscore the ball no team has that we really have 4 players out of 5 who can score 30 thats why we are shooting bad but after this offseason we will be a diff team...wining comes with time and patience bot everyone is LEebron James

cpdk
cpdk

They would be lucky to get Lionel Hollins and if he is available and interested, sign him up!  Hollins will look at team first, make it competitive but on same page for players to be happy, from day one.  His techniques would be a lot like Doc Rivers.  He knows how to get young talent experienced to fit in with team, or cut them loose.  Detroit big three should play together like no other in NBA.  Jennings needs a back up and Bynum doesn't seem to fit.  Stuckey (not Singler) should start.  Pope and Singler can rotate in for Stuckey, and time to get Siva in for Jennings, or, if you really want to try something, put Siva in with Jennings to give Jennings a two guard rest bringing the ball up.   Why isn't Siva getting playing time when rookies like Burke at Utah, MCW at 76ers, Hardaway, Olidipo, all getting good minutes?  Do you remember what Siva did in National Championship against Burke?  Do you know what he can do with minutes to make the big 3 and Jennings better?  Without trying these things on a young team, you will never know the potential.  Forget about players contracts and who should play for the money....like your players for who they are off the court, but from practice one, no one's job is safe regardless of their past or contract...they all compete for jobs...and the cream will rise.   

BKIsles
BKIsles

The Joe Dumars era in Detroit is slowly descending into a repeat of the Isiah Thomas era in New York.

AmySkene
AmySkene

Cheeks, by all accounts, is a good person but not a great head coach.  I definitely don't see him as the coach a team like these Pistons need.  Lionel Hollins would turn this into one of the top 3 teams in the East - a team no one will want to face come playoff time.  

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are very overrated pro ball players.  Yes, they have some talent but they are nowhere as good as each of them thinks they are and they aren't as good as Dumars thought they were either.


Jennings is shooting under 40%.  Is that a surprise?  Let's check.


Hell is career FG% right now is .392% so I guess it's no surprise he's shooting under 40%.  It was to be expected.  In 3 of his 4 full seasons before this one, he shot less than 40%.


Brandon Jennings is NOT a point guard and he'll never be one.  That isn't Cheeks fault.


Now for Mr. Smith.  Good old Josh.  He can't shoot.  He's shooting .230% from 3 pt range and he keeps shooting.  He was asked in an interview about this and he said he doesn't care, he's gonna keep playing his game.


Is he trying to win?  Teams only get so many shots a game and yet he jacks up 3 pointers with very little chance of them going in and he's defiant and says he'll keep doing it.


His career 3 pt percentage is .275%


His career true shooting percentage is a very lowly .512%  He is inefficient when it comes to putting the ball through the hoop.



RaidYoFridge
RaidYoFridge

Mo needed to go, but Joe needs to go too. ESPECIALLY before the draft (if we even get a pick; we can get a top8 draft pick or else it's Charlotte's pick [Ben Gordon trade]). Pistons MUST keep losing. Like I said, Top8 pick or no pick. And this draft class is realllyyyy good. If the Pistons don't get their hands on either Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, or Marcus Smart, then we'll likely remain in the dumps for years to come. Because in order for this team to be competitive, we [1] need that top8 pick, I can't stress it enough, [2] THEN (after the draft) trade Greg Monroe for a starting G/SF, [3] use the new cap space acquired (from Stuckey and Villanuevea's departure; $17M) to sign another starting G/SF and backup C, and then we can be competitive. The perfect trade would be to acquire Kawhi Leonard & Danny Green in exchange for Greg Monroe + future pick(s), plus sign someone like Luol Deng and Tyler Hansbrough. Then our team could look something like this --> {PG} Jennings {SG} Wiggins {SF} Kawhi Leonard {PF} Josh Smith {C} Drummond <--, with our top benchers being Luol Deng, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, and KCP. I wouldn't mind resigning Stuckey for fair $. Seriously, that Pistons lineup would be sick; we'd compete for titles, no doubt.

David102
David102

What will be interesting is who replaces him. Some close to the situation think Dumars might "get McHaled" and told by the owner to clean up his own mess by coaching the team himself.


Joe needs to go. Cheeks had player mutinies in his previous stop and this was obviously not going to work. I'd love to see Laimbeer get the job after the All Star break.



JohnStevens1
JohnStevens1

How can Cheeks be fired, and Dumars keep his job?  For the last several years, he has been pitiful.


burt.doug
burt.doug

how does Joe Dumars manage to keep his job?...too many coaches get fired, when it should be the gm's....they've won 4-6 this is ridiculous...

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

Does Joe Dumars have pictures of the Pistons owners with animals?

AmySkene
AmySkene

@Sportsfan18  This team is a collection of talented boneheads.  Much like the Blazer teams Cheeks coached.  The Pistons need an iron-first type - that's the opposite of Cheeks who would thrive with a team of professional vets.

burt.doug
burt.doug

@AmySkene @Sportsfan18 why do you think Cheeks was canned? he tried to coach and players like Josh Smith rebelled....Josh Smith was a disaster of a signing, so was Gordon, so was Charlie V...they've had 8 coaches in Dumars rein ....that team is a complete mess and Hollins or Phil Jackson wouldn't want to coach that mess...