The Detroit Pistons came into this season with a lot of potential, and fans had reason to be excited. After all, the Pistons had made it clear they were in a “win-now” situation with the acquisitions of Brandon Jennings,Josh Smith and the return of Chauncey Billups. Detroit was seen as a definite playoff team, and everyone was believing it.
The preseason predictions and expectations have not come to fruition, however, as the Pistons find themselves at a disappointing 21-29, a half-game out of 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Because of this, Detroit dropped the hammer today and fired Maurice Cheeks. Cheeks’s firing came just 50 games into his tenure in Detroit.
The Pistons made a desperate move firing Cheeks. They saw themselves behind the pack and felt it was time to make some moves before it was too late. Cheeks is an unfortunate scapegoat and his firing wasn’t necessarily the right move to make.
Let’s not get things confused here: Maurice Cheeks was not the main problem in Detroit. The Pistons are last in the NBA in three-point percentage with a 31% clip from long range. Despite being fourth in the league in rebounding, they’re 29th in opponent shooting percentage, with teams shooting 46.6% against their defense. They’re turning the ball over 15 times a game and they have not been efficient on offense. If you’re putting up stats like those every night, even Phil Jackson would have a rough time coaching them.
Who should be the next Pistons coach? Lionel Hollins makes a lot of sense. After being wrongfully let go in Memphis, not given the contract he deserved, a situation like Detroit seems to be a good fit. A team that desperately needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball needs a defense-first coach like Hollins to turn the ship around. If he could take a team two years removed from being 24-58 to the conference semifinals in 2011 with the Grizzlies, he can at least institute the right principals and philosophies to start the turnaround in Detroit. While they won’t have an incredible march to the conference finals, Hollins is the right man to start a run to a playoff berth.
In conclusion, Maurice Cheeks’s firing was a desperate move by the Pistons. It was rash, but they felt they had to do it if they were going to start living up to their potential in the East. The only move that would make sense now is to hire former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. Either way, it’s going to be a long climb back to .500 if Detroit keeps playing like they have on defense.