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Detroit Pistons hire Maurice Cheeks as new coach
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DETROIT (AP) - Maurice Cheeks is getting a third shot to be an NBA head coach.
The Detroit Pistons are desperately hoping he makes the most of the opportunity he was given Monday, when they announced the hiring and did not disclose the length of his deal.
Cheeks was 284-286 in the regular season and 5-11 during three postseasons while leading the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers, a team he helped win an NBA title as a point guard.
“After spending some time with Maurice, I was very impressed not only with his basketball knowledge but his communication and leadership skills,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. “We are very excited to have someone of his experience and talent help take this franchise into the future.”
Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson helped his friend, Gores, during the search as a consultant.
“The leadership and player development qualities he brings as a former player and coach blends nicely with the roster we are building for the future,” Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said in a statement. “He’s won an NBA championship, coached in two NBA Finals as an assistant coach and mentored some of the top young players in the NBA.”
Cheeks becomes the franchise’s fourth coach in six seasons _ following Frank, John Kuester and Michael Curry _ and ninth since the 1999-2000 season.
Since Detroit won an NBA title in 2004, it has slipped in the standings and with bodies in seats.
The Pistons made their sixth straight Eastern Conference finals appearance in 2008, had a first-round exit the following year against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers and have lost an average of 50-plus games the last four years.
After Flip Saunders was fired in 2008, Michael Curry lasted only one season as coach and John Kuester made it through two years, as did Frank.
Detroit is building around Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. It plans to build around that nucleus of young talent with the No. 8 pick overall in the NBA draft this month and space under the salary cap that was created by trading away Ben Gordon last offseason and Tayshaun Prince during the regular season.
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