Cheeks is Pistons' new coach, with work to do

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm •  Published: June 13, 2013
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Maurice Cheeks is ready for a new challenge, undaunted by the fact that the Detroit Pistons have been a revolving door for coaches lately.

Cheeks is the franchise's fourth coach in six seasons, so is he concerned about a job where so many others have failed?

"If we thought like that, nobody would be coaching," Cheeks said.

Cheeks was introduced Thursday, nearly two months after Lawrence Frank was fired. The coaching search took a while because the Pistons need this decision to work out. Detroit went 54-94 in two seasons under Frank amid sagging attendance. The previous two seasons under John Kuester weren't any better.

The Pistons haven't made the playoffs since being swept in the first round in 2009 — in Michael Curry's only season at the helm. Cheeks is Detroit's ninth coach since the 1999-2000 season.

"We wanted to make sure we took our time and went through as many possible scenarios as we've come across," team president Joe Dumars said. "We feel like we got the right guy for what we're trying to do."

This is the third head coaching stop for Cheeks. He went 284-286 with the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers. Cheeks' coaching tenure in Portland is perhaps best remembered for a heartwarming moment when he rushed to the rescue of a 13-year-old girl who forgot the words to the national anthem before a game. But he's never been past the first round of the playoffs.

"Everything you go through is a learning experience," Cheeks said. "I'm here to make my own way, put my own stamp on this team. It has nothing to do with Philadelphia or Portland."

Detroit drafted Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond in the lottery the last three years, and the Pistons have the No. 8 pick this year. They've been able to build a nucleus of young players with potential, but Detroit has lacked a legitimate star who could lift the team into the postseason and help draw fans.

This offseason is an important one for Dumars after the team cleared salary cap space by trading veterans Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince in the last year.

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