Despite starting the weekend with impressive back-to-back victories, the Detroit Pistons announced Sunday that Maurice Cheeks has been fired after serving just 50 games as the Pistons head coach. Current Pistons assistant John Loyer will take over as the interim head coach on Monday, as the Pistons take on the San Antonio Spurs at home.
Sunday’s firing first appeared to be a desperation move from Pistons general manager Joe Dumars, who is on the hot seat in the final year of his contract, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports later reported that owner Tom Gores had pushed for the final decision.
So, what’s next for the Pistons? With just two games remaining before the all-star break (Monday vs. Spurs and Wednesday vs. Cleveland Cavaliers) the Pistons’ 21-29 record places them ninth in the Eastern Conference.
Does Gores let Dumars finish out the season with Loyer at the helm? Or is it just a matter of time before Dumars is relieved of his duties? And, most importantly, what direction is the team headed in for the remainder of this season?
Naming Loyer as the interim head coach solves the immediate coaching vacancy, but there are reports that the Pistons might be looking for a long-term solution. Former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, who declined to become a member of Cheeks’ staff with the Pistons, is reportedly interested in the job.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that Hollins has emerged as one of the primary contenders for the position even though Detroit has said they will not be conducting a search at this time. Hollins, who took the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals last season, was not re-signed by Memphis despite three-consecutive playoff appearances.
Regardless of who becomes the next head coach or when that move will occur, at what point will it be clear for the Pistons to realize the root of the problem? At what point will the blame finally be placed on Dumars shoulders? From questionable draft picks, to the overpaying of every free-agent that has brought their overrated-talents to Detroit, and all the head coaches fired in-between (Cheeks marks the eighth in Dumars’ 14-year tenure), when will Dumars be held accountable for the current mess he has created?
Since the Pistons’ last playoff appearance in 2009, there have been three head coaches in Detroit; John Kuester (2009-11), Lawrence Frank (2011-13), and the recently fired Mo Cheeks (2013-14). Although the Pistons have a great possibility of ending their postseason drought this year, in no way should that accomplishment constitute enough of a reason to keep Dumars at the front-office controls moving forward.
Dumars’ future may be decided following the NBA’s trade deadline (Feb. 20). If the deadline comes and goes without the Pistons making some type of move regarding Josh Smith (who has a contract that no team is willing to take on) or Greg Monroe (who is in the final year of his deal), Detroit could enter the offseason without a head coach or general manager, along with a roster full of question marks.
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