Maurice Cheeks is no longer the Detroit Pistons head coach.
The Pistons parted ways with Cheeks today after 50 games into the 2013-2014 NBA season in which the team compiled a 21-29 win-loss record so far and is a half game out of the playoff hunt. The team also ranks 19th in the league in defensive efficiency.
Of the Maurice Cheeks firing, Pistons president Joe Dumars said “This was a difficult decision for the organization to make but we needed to make a change. We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work.”
Reportedly, the Pistons are interested in former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins as Cheeks’ replacement.
Pistons owner Tom Gores chimed in to say that he respected Cheeks but that the team needed a different approach, given that the Pistons have underperformed despite the additions of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith.
Sports Illustrated questioned the timing of the Cheeks firing: “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… 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).”
Some of the Pistons’ players took to Twitter first to express surprise at the Cheeks firing and to thank him for his efforts.
Maurice Cheeks, 57, was previously the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers. As a point guard, he played 15 years in the NBA (11 as a member of the 76ers), including the 1983 championship team. He was a four-time NBA All Star.
Back in 2006, “Mo” Cheeks famously and kindly jumped in to help a young girl who forgot the words to the Star Spangled Banner in the pre-game ceremony: