Feb 3, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Detroit Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks reacts during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Detroit Pistons have fired first year head-coach Maurice “Mo” Cheeks, putting an early end to a disappointing season in which the Pistons were expected to compete for a playoff spot in the turgid Eastern Conference.
According to Yahoo Sports, new owner Tom Gores was the driving force behind the firing, though the writing has been on the proverbial wall since nearly opening night. Although I argued Cheeks would be an excellent mentor to a young and improving team, the Pistons lacked an identity from the get-go, and many of their off-season moves were lateral at best, and a few absolutely detrimental.
Brandon Jennings is an improvement over Brandon Knight, but he’ll never be a top tier point guard in this league, and one wonders why the Pistons gave up on Jose Calderon so willingly this past summer. Italian import Luigi Datome was billed as one of the best shooters in the world and thus far he’s been abysmal from behind the arc. Straight up abysmal.
Perhaps his undoing was his relationship with the “de facto” new star of Detroit’s new-look team. Cheeks appeared to clash with Josh Smith, the big Free Agent acquisition, benching him for long critical stretches of several games. Cheeks never seemed to find an answer with his talented front-court rotation that was nearly bereft of outside shooting. Greg Monroe has seen his name dragged through many a trade rumor. Andre Drummond’s dunks have once again been the highlight of the season, a season that very few expected to be so utterly depressing.
Despite this however and owing largely to the seemingly unprecedented torpid state of the Eastern Conference, the Pistons are only half a game out of the playoff picture. Whether Detroit will opt to blow it up, stand pat, or make a few strategic trades remains to be seen, but this move is a message from up on high: cruise control will no longer be tolerated.