New Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks and team president Joe Dumars, right, chat after the press conference earlie this month. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News/Detroit News)
New Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks will have the benefit of introducing someone to the confines of the new team environment after next week’s NBA draft.
“Another press conference,” remarked Pistons president Joe Dumars on the possibility of more additions —and by proxy, more subtractions to the roster, which should have a fair share of turnover this offseason.
Cheeks’ presence alone should aid in the Pistons’ quest back to NBA relevancy, but it isn’t expected to be singular.
The hire has been deemed as uninspiring and not sexy by some of the local scribes and voices in the area.
In fact, more questions were lobbed Dumars’ way during his initial news conference, further illustrating what some believe is a lack of interest in yet another coach on the sidelines in Auburn Hills.
But who remembers who wins the news conference? Who cares?
All that matters is how he’ll produce, if he can inspire a group of 12 to 15 men on a daily basis, which is tough to do considering how much massaging is necessary when you factor in the outside voices that infiltrate an individual player’s brain.
Chatter is misplaced
The hire, along with watching which coaches haven’t yet picked up jobs this offseason or were fired after successful years, shows the burden of expectations is more than just about wins or losses in today’s NBA.
We don’t know how many wins Cheeks will be worth in a given season, but we should expect his connection — his credibility within an NBA locker room — should prevent such precipitous slides such as the Pistons’ embarrassing 1-13 March, in which their only win came against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Streaks and stretches of bad losses are what doomed former coach Lawrence Frank, as his words didn’t match up to his lack of credibility because he didn’t have the playing experience most players would trust.
Granted, he didn’t have a ready-made roster, either, and neither will Cheeks, as this team is a work-in-progress. One mid-level free-agent signing and at least one trade should affect the rotation, so Cheeks should have more flexibility with playing styles.
We should be more interested in how he plans to use Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in tandem as opposed to pointing to perceived shortcomings at his stops in Philly and Portland. How he’ll handle Brandon Knight will be determined by if they bring in another point guard in the draft, because it’ll say more about what the organization thinks about Knight than anything else.
What about the game?
The point is, of all the conversations that have been had about Cheeks’ hiring, his actual coaching ability hasn’t been broached. It’s been more noise about who has job security for the future or where owner Tom Gores was during the presser since he wasn’t present.
When there’s multiple losing seasons and multiple coaching changes, the narrative will shift to places other than the game itself — which is understandable.
But at some point, the news conferences, Dumars and Gores won’t matter as much.
If Cheeks does what the organization expects from him, he’ll be front and center — for basketball reasons.