The Detroit Pistons have fired head coach Maurice Cheeks just 50 games into his first season as the team’s head coach, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
The timing is a bit curious, considering the Pistons had just won two straight in blowout fashion over the Nets and the Nuggets. But there have been problems brewing for some time.
Despite back-to-back victories on the weekend, general manager Joe Dumars informed Cheeks of his dismissal on Sunday morning, sources said. …
In a season that has fallen short of playoff expectations, Detroit owner Tom Gores has been pushing for changes, league sources said.
Cheeks has struggled to manage a flawed roster in terms of its basic construction, which includes Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith playing alongside two more traditional bigs in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
The bench depth is virtually nonexistent, yet ownership mandated playoffs with the money spent in free agency and in the East it’s still very possible for the Pistons, so maybe this gives them a little bit of a bump.
Drummond was benched twice in a recent loss, and his teammates were visibly upset by the maneuver when it happened. Cheeks also benched Smith back in December, so it perhaps became clear to ownership that he would not be able to guide this team to the playoffs, despite currently sitting just a half-game back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
An interim coach has yet to be named, and no, it won’t be Rasheed Wallace. Wojnarowski reports that assistant John Loyer is expected to be the front-runner for the job.
“Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores, via official 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.”
Jennings reacted publicly to the news as soon as it broke, and seemed as surprised as the rest of us.