“We’re pleased to welcome Maurice Cheeks to the Pistons organization,” Pistons president Joe Dumars said in a statement. “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. 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.”
ESPN.com first reported that Cheeks agreed to coach the team after a lengthy coaching search that involved multiple interviews.
The Pistons will be Cheeks' third crack at a head coaching position. He spent three-plus years with the Blazers from 2001 to 2005 and three-plus years with the Sixers from 2005 to 2009. He was fired in the middle of the season at both stops and holds a career coaching record of 284-286 (.498). Cheeks' teams have made the postseason a total of three times but never advanced out of the first round. He was hired by the Thunder as an assistant in 2009 and served through the 2012-13 season.
Cheeks, 56, was a four-time All-Star as a player and a member of the title-winning 1983 Sixers. A four-time All-Defensive First Team selection, Cheeks retired after 15 seasons with the Sixers, Spurs, Knicks, Hawks and Nets with career averages of 11.1 points, 6.7 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.
The hiring of Cheeks marks five coaches since 2008 for the Pistons, who parted ways with Lawrence Frank back in April following a 29-53 season and the organization's fourth straight trip to the draft lottery. The Point Forward recently labeled the Pistons job once of the least desirable open positions this summer, citing the high coaching turnover rate, the lack of top-end talent on hand and president Joe Dumars' recent track record of questionable decisions in free agency.
Former Blazers coach Nate McMillan, Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter, Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw and former Hawks coach Larry Drew (since hired by the Bucks) were all linked in rumors to the Pistons job since Frank departed. New Pistons owner Tom Gores sought the counsel of Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson during the hiring process. Cheeks joins a long list of assistant coaches that have bumped up to head jobs this summer: Lakers assistant Steve Clifford is now coaching the Bobcats, Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek is now coaching the Suns, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer is now coaching the Hawks and Warriors assistant Michael Malone is now coaching the Kings.