SH Blog: Pistons fire Cheeks; Stotts hasn’t talked extension yet

Jennings CheeksHave you ever read something so intensely negative about someone that, regardless of how credible it is, you have a hard time dissociating it from your perception of that person?

I’m not talking George Zimmerman or Woody Allen here, of course. More of a rumor, possibly not even based in fact, that just sticks around in the back of your mind forever.

Like maybe there’s an NBA coach, and he seems fairly nondescript, a decent but unspectacular record, a guy who mostly suffered from not having much talent to work with. And then one day you read an article that absolutely does not hold back in its criticism of the coach, a piece you’d consider calling a hatchet job if it wasn’t so specific and scathing, and avoiding journalism slang like “there is a feeling,” “the general sense is,” and “some believe,” which can all just be sneaky ways of saying “I think.” And that piece never leaves your mind, and your immediate association with that coach is “he’s irredeemably awful,” and then you have to remind yourself that you’re not an expert, you just read one article on the internet.

That was Dwight Jaynes’ piece on Detroit’s hire of Maurice Cheeks back in July. Here’s what he had to say about Cheeks then:

This time it was the Detroit Pistons who were casual or naive enough in their job search to hire the man whom I consider, hands down, to be the worst coach in Trail Blazer history and probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen in the NBA. And while it’s possible that no quality coach would accept that Detroit job, the Pistons could have done so much better. What’s wrong with Cheeks, you say? Well, I’ve covered the NBA since the days when Jack Ramsay was roaming the Blazer sidelines in paisley pants. And I don’t think since that time I’ve seen a coach as poorly informed, as casual about his duties and as lazy as Cheeks. NBA head coach? He should have been charged with identity theft.

There’s more, of course. Jaynes was far from shy in his disdain for Cheeks’ ability as a coach. And now Cheeks has been fired, not even getting the courtesy of finishing out the season that Mike Dunlap, one of the worst hires in recent memory, got.

Maybe Jaynes was right all along. This is from Matt Dery of 105.1 FM in Detroit:


Cheeks’ firing is the big news today, but there’s plenty more. Let’s get to the latest from the NBA:

  • Here’s the story on Cheeks’ firing as Pistons coach, from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski: “Despite back-to-back victories over the weekend, general manager Joe Dumars informed Cheeks of his dismissal on Sunday morning, sources said. Cheeks didn’t make it to the All-Star break of his first season as Detroit’s coach. He was in the first year of a two-year contract with the Pistons. Owner Tom Gores had become increasingly impatient with Cheeks, and sources with knowledge of his plans say that he had been pushing for a change in the coaching staff. Eight different coaches have been replaced under Dumars’ run as GM, but league sources told Yahoo Sports he had been an advocate of giving Cheeks more time as coach – especially in light of back-to-back victories over the weekend. Pistons assistant John Loyer will be appointed the interim head coach for the rest of the season, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Detroit has no plans to conduct a search for a longer-term replacement until the spring.”

  • WoodsonWith Cheeks now gone, the coaching hot seat turns back to Mike Woodson, whose seat has never really cooled off since about mid-November. Here’s Frank Isola of the New York Daily News with the latest on Woodson: “Mike Woodson believes he will still be coaching the Knicks after the All-Star break but also seems resigned to the fact that he won’t coach the team beyond this season. Woodson revealed that his theme recently to the players is that he’s a “big boy” and can deal with the consequences of a season that has fallen far short of James Dolan’s expectations of championship or bust. “They know it’s dangling,” Woodson told reporters early Sunday. “My theme to our players is that ‘Woodson’s a big boy. He’s been around the block a few times.’ It’s a part of the business if it happens. It’s never been about me. You got to worry about the makeup of your team and how you’re competing on the practice floor and when you take it to the court. That’s what counts. The coach plays a major role but at the end of the day the players have to be the guys that play at a high level.””
  • Mitch Lawrence’s latest column for the New York Daily News has this somewhat strange news about the Blazers: “No one with the Blazers is complaining about the job Terry Stotts is doing, but team sources say his standing in the locker room would be helped if he made more of a concerted effort to strengthen his relationship with LeMarcus Aldridge, his All-Star forward. Stotts is working on the final season of his contract and there has been no talk of an extension.”
  • Flip SaundersAndy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press talked to Flip Saunders, who isn’t likely to do much at the trade deadline: “Saunders said the Wolves have done research on 189 trades over the last 10 years. The results have been mixed – at best. Saunders said there have been two trades that have had an impact on “real success in the league.” Saunders cited Rasheed Wallace from the Atlanta Hawks to the Detroit Pistons in February 2004 and Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2008. Both Wallace and Gasol went on to win NBA titles with their new teams. Of the 189 trades, teams that were at or below .500, only 14 percent made the playoffs, Saunders said of the research. With teams above .500 making a trade, only 55 percent stayed at the same position or improved. “That means 45 percent were worse,” Saunders said. “When you look, I think a lot of time teams make trades to satisfy fans, to make them look like they are really trying to do something to make their team better. And I think sometimes teams make trades to make it look to their owners like they are working. “If you want to make a trade to make yourself significantly better right now, then those have to be blockbuster-type trades,” Saunders continued, “and I don’t think there are a lot of teams that are leaning toward doing something like that.””

  • KGandPierceWhat’s behind the Nets’ turnaround? Sean Highkin of USA Today goes inside the numbers to find out: “The biggest component to the Nets’ recent resurgence has been the improved play of Garnett, who looked like a shell of the future Hall of Famer he is during the first two months of the season. In 2013, his True Shooting Percentage (a metric that counts free throws towards a player’s total shooting efficiency) was an abysmal 42.2%, but since the start of January, the number has improved to 60.4%. In 121 minutes this season, the Livingston-Johnson-Pierce-Anderson-Garnett lineup has scored 98.4 points per 100 possessions and allowed 91.5 from opponents, giving them a net efficiency of 6.9. The team’s early-season starting lineup, which featured Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Lopez, had a net efficiency of -4.9, scoring 96.5 points and giving up 101.4 points per 100 possessions. The Nets have also found success in limited minutes playing Williams and Livingston together in the backcourt, with Johnson, Pierce and Garnett up front. In 59 minutes, this lineup is outscoring opponents by a whopping 30.1 points per 100 possessions. Injuries to key players have robbed first-year head coach Jason Kidd of any kind of rotational stability, but as the season has progressed, he’s become more adept at using his personnel effectively.”


  • The Cavs aren’t giving up, despite axing Chris Grant, writes Bob Finnan of the News-Herald: “When asked if the Cavs were going to be buyers or sellers, it was clear cut. “I don’t see how you get better and win more games selling,” Griffin said. “We’re going to buy to the extent that it makes us better for the long haul. I don’t think we’re going to do anything that’s an act of desperation. I think we’re going to be willing to buy the right asset at the right price. We are dedicated 100 percent from top to bottom to getting better and that’s what we’re going to do.” The Cavs have fallen off the pace of being in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Like Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert, Griffin believes in the talent on the team. “We lost our mojo somewhere,” Griffin said. “We lost our way somehow. We have compelling talent.””


Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.


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