Trouble was brewing before Pistons fired Maurice Cheeks

The Pistons fired coach Maurice Cheeks on Sunday, cutting short his first year as the team's head coach.

Detroit has gotten off to a disappointing 21-29 record after going on a bit of a spending binge in acquiring Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Along with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, this would be enough to get the Pistons back to the Playoffs.

No dice there. The team has been a disaster.

Detroit is 20th in the league in offensive rating and 19th in the league in defensive rating. They are as likely to have a strong effort like 16-point win over the Nets and the 15-point win over the Nuggets this past week that immediately preceded the firing as they were to get blown out by 14 points in a lifeless effort in Orlando to the Magic.

Things were not going well for the Pistons and there were clear clues to that.

"We've played long enough with each other where we should be able to understand where guys are and play well as a team," Pistons guard Kyle Singler said after that loss in Orlando.

Singler was moved to the starting lineup for that game to match up better with the Magic's Arron Afflalo. That left the second unit extremely depleted and it showed as the Magic built up a lead in the second quarter and never trailed by fewer than 10 points after that point.

In the heat of that moment, Maurice Cheeks was seen getting into a verbal tussle with Pistons guard Will Bynum. He played in the first half, but did not leave the bench in the second half. He only left Amway Center telling reporters he had nothing to say. Cheeks only acknowledged that something happened between the two and that it was only a heat of the moment type thing.


But maybe it foreshadowed much more. Cheeks said he did not talk to Bynum at halftime, focusing instead on getting his team to play better. Pistons players seemed all too happy to leave the Amway Center locker room quickly.

"It's part of the game, we had a few words and we moved on," Cheeks said. "That's it. There is nothing to elaborate on. It is not the first time I have had some words with a player and it's probably not going to be the last."

It was not the last, but he only got two more games — both wins — to say what he needed to say. Bynum, to his credit, brushed the incident aside when the team returned to Detroit after their two-game Florida jaunt. What was clear though was that frustration was growing with the team falling short of expectations.

Assistant coach John Loyer was named the interim head coach and will take charge of the team for the rest of the year.

Considering the Pistons recently went through major roster overhaul and Joe Dumars had his second run with cap space following the breakup of the championship Pistons core. He spent that cap room on Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. That appears to be a mismatch with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe already on the roster. Things have not meshed and so that might be another change coming down the line for Detroit.

One thing is for sure, it is the losing that weighs on the Pistons right now.

"It is tough," Andre Drummond said. "I can't stand losing. I hate it with a pasion. But you have to stay positive and can't let it get to us and try and get better each and every day."

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily