The Pistons are 2-7 since firing coach Maurice Cheeks and replaced him with interim coach John Loyer. While acknowledging that Loyer is fine, Detroit’s point guard Brandon Jennings isn’t happy how fast Cheeks saw the axe. With multiple new players in a Pistons uniform this season, Jennings felt Cheeks deserved more time to create a cohesive unit.
Jennings tells the Detroit Free Press‘ Vince Ellis:
“You give a coach a half a season with new faces and new chemistry â€” that’s not enough time, I don’t think,” Jennings said Thursday after a long practice at the Toyota Center. “I felt like he was placed in a losing situation.
“We were winning, and now we’re playing like the old Pistons in the beginning.”
But Jennings was quick to add he doesn’t have a problem with Cheeks’ replacement, Loyer, just that Cheeks wasn’t given a fair shake:
[Jennings] was quick to say: “I don’t have a problem with John. It’s just with the whole thing of changing coaches was probably one of the more difficult things for me. John was our assistant, so I know a lot about John, but it’s more as a personal problem for me with Mo leaving.”
Brandon was brought to Detroit this season in a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee over the summer. As Detroit’s point guard, he obviously grew close with Cheeks, who was a four-time All-Star point guard with the Philadelphia 76ers’ Moses Malone and Dr. J during their run in the 1980s, which included a title in 1983.
With Detroit’s acquisition of Josh Smith in free agency this summer and the continued maturation of second-year center Andre Drummond and fourth-year forward Greg Monroe, there were going to be some growing pains for this Pistons squad, but many felt they could compete for home-court advantage in April.
The Pistons currently sit at the No. 10 spot in the Eastern conference playoff ladder, 3.5 games behind No. 8 seed Atlanta.
“We keep slipping out of the playoff race,” Jennings said. “You get a little worried. We only got 20-something games left. Time is ticking, man.
“We keep talking about we want to take the next step and turn the corner, but we keep giving up games and losing games. It’s going to get real tough.”
It’s unclear whether Cheeks would have figured it out, but if this current Pistons team fails to make the playoffs in a top-heavy Eastern Conference, you can be sure more moves will follow, and GM Joe Dumars will have a lot of explaining to do after failing in yet another rebuild attempt.
Should the Pistons have given more time to Cheeks?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.